Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Would'a, could'a, should'a

One interesting side effect of getting a "do over"; say, having a baby shortly after your only child turns 16, is that you get a chance to review your Parental Would'a-Could'a-Should'a List: those things you always told yourself you'd do differently if you had a chance to Do it All Over Again.

I'm eight years into my "do over" and it's been an... illuminating exercise. For example, I learned that 16 years did not alter my lack of enthusiasm for playing board games. Or playing blocks/dolls on the floor. Also, those extra years did not turn me into a morning person; surprisingly, almost two decades later I found that I still lacked the ability to leap cheerfully out of bed when the toddler wandered into the bedroom room chortling "Done seeeepin', Mama!" at 5:00 am. That's Five O'Clock in the Morning, folks. Ugh.

I still fail miserably at making kids pick up their stuff with any sort of consistency. Young Son, like his big sister, is simply not learning the value of a tidy bedroom from me. I do not enjoy housework [severe understatement alert] and nagging someone else to do it is even worse*! You have to spend energy remembering to nag, and then on the nagging proper, repeatedly, and the shit is still on the floor. Where's the value in that?

And there's school. I'll say it: I hate homework. I hated homework 40 years ago and I hate it now. I go limp with despair every time the large white fundraiser-of-the month envelope, complete with catalog of useless yet expensive crap and comically long order form, shows up in the backpack**. I still haven't joined the PTA and I don't volunteer in the classroom***. And I freakin' loathe packing lunches. I pay $40/month for Young Son's hot lunch just so I don't have to slap two pieces of bread together with mayo and sliced cheese.

Sad, but true. Then, as now, I am not an Über-Mom so much as a Good Enough to Keep the Authorities Away Mom.

However... there is a silver lining of sorts, or maybe that's just the shiny side of the aluminum foil. I pinned a lot of my (perceived) failings in my parenting of Lovely Daughter on the fact that I was young. Now I have incontrovertible proof that most of those shortcomings are still present well into (read: on my way out of) my forties. Kinda depressing, yeah, but at least now I can stop flagellating myself. For good or ill, it's the same as it ever was around here.

What a relief, huh? Something to be said for consistency, I guess.

* ...until I step on a Lego so hard that it leaves an imprint on the sole of my foot, as happened just the other day. BTW, dark oriental-print rugs are not conducive to defensive Lego-spotting.

** Small improvement here as they no longer expect the kids to go door to door.

*** I did recently chaperone a class field trip. I believe it was the first time ever.

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