Monday, November 3, 2008

six straight hours (less time outside her room) with mom

no, she hasn't settled down yet. today my mom had surgery (bladder repair, if you must know). she asked me to wait with my dad and then stick around with her in case she needed anything. by now, you are probably asking yourself, 'what were you thinking?' or 'jeez you are crazy'. and i have to admit that it was hard, painful even--seriously bad headache that eased when i went to the cafeteria, took some advil, and ranted to jack. mom didn't stop talking from the time she spied me from the hallway outside of her room until i left, and even then, she was still talking as i left her room to take dinner to dad. (what are you having for dinner? what will you fix for dad for dinner? there's a hungry man dinner in the freezer in the garage, oh, you have some leftover chicken parm? he'd like that. but no rice. oh, no rice? no pasta? well, there's a baked potato on the 2nd shelf down in the fridge that you could peel, cube into 1" cubes and fry in some margarine in the small frying pan that is hanging in the utility room. and then go into the storage room and get one of the small cans of creamed corn in the cupboard on the west side and open it and put half of it into the tupperware bowl under the toaster counter, and the lid's in the bottom drawer, and my, that tupperware's expensive, don't you think, and what? you're going to take vegetables with the chicken? what vegetables? fresh vegetables? what vegetables? i know what he likes...) and that's when i said, 'bye, mom, talk to you later.' and walked to the elevators.

and then jack and i went to the therapist and that's when the really amazing thing happened today. i said something about thinking that jack probably thought my idea of how our kids should raise their kids is just like the way i raised our kids and he said he thought that pretty much whatever you do or don't do that kids usually turn out okay, whereas i get physically shaken whenever i see any kid who seems distressed--not just our grandbabies, whose whimpers, yelps, and screams call out to me to come love them, save them, give them whatever they want, but also strangers' kids at wendy's and kids who aren't totally jolly in the car next to us, and on and on--so the therapist pointed out that while each of us experience childrens' distress in different, but very real ways, that perhaps my apparent overreaction was not so outlandish when considered in the context of my childhood. and i thought, 'omgosh, why didn't i think of that?'


Jessie said...

First of all, I'm proud of you.

Second, I think everyone needs a chance to have a few yelps, cries, needs... whatever you want to call them. While we all want to help our kids with everything, without any opposition, they would never learn to figure things out for themselves. Not that we shouldn't help guide them along, but they need the chance to figure out how to help themselves, too. They need to learn to be their own person.

At least that's what I think.

Joey said...

Okay, I was exhausted reading this! I don't know how you live it. I'll bet it's hard for your mom to be her.

The child thing...I can see you wanting to spare your kids what you went through. I think I wanted to do that, too; especially divorced parents. And then I didn't spare them. It's really tough.

But I totally disagree with Jack. My sister said once, "What's the deal with raising kids? It's not that hard. You just see that they are fed and then make sure they get good grades."

Well, it's a little more than that. I think good parenting takes hard work. And then some of the hardest working parents I know have had heart breaking kids. There is not justice in this life.

In my work with youth, I see many who are neglected and lonely and so hungry for approval that it makes you hurt inside. Our generation and the one following are turning out to be most selfish parents.

I watched you, my dear Gilian, and you were never a selfish parent.

I asked a friend who was old enough to be my father once, how he had been such a good parent to his daughters. He said that he asked them that question once himself. They told him they couldn't remember specifically things he'd done; but that they had always felt loved. I would add approval to that. I think that children need love and approval. I think they are famished for it.

Jack is terribly, terribly wrong on this one. Kids are not magic beans.