August 22, 2015
The honeymoon is over. We had a week of such fun that I was tempted to think “what’s so hard about this parenting thing anyway?” Except that I knew better than to say such a thing, even if it had been just in my own deluded head :-)
Sure enough, after that first week of ease we entered into the reality of post-pubescent life, and began to have the corresponding battles: morning school-prep delay tactics, for example. Or sneaking 2 extra laps across the pool after the “time’s up” warning, when she thinks I’m not looking.
Used to this sort of routine by now, I was surprised to find her uninterested in swimming after school yesterday. I had anticipated a fun Friday swim and ended up with a child throwing our plan for a loop as she expected to be able to sit at home by herself. We realized that we’ve had such a habit of asking her what she wants in any given scenario that we had no response ready when her idea didn’t mesh with ours. We decided to insist on an outing and set out, the two of us discussing discipline ideas while a sullen preteen shuffled her feet behind us. The remainder of the evening was smooth enough, but I found myself insecure, wishing we were smiling and laughing together, or that she’d show interest in doing yoga with me as she often does.
The truth is that I’m jealous of my husband-jealous of his laid back and patient nature, and jealous of the way he draws people to him and smooths out issues. I, on the other hand, get too easily stressed out and impatient with difficulties. I get frustrated by things out of my control and react by obsessing over minor details that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. In the household this means I’m the one who’s the stickler for rules, and the one always bringing up what needs to be done, and what hasn’t been taken care of. In other words, I’m the strict parent. And I’m realizing that I get very self-centered in my neediness to be “liked” in the home: this need does not mesh very well with a parenting role.
But back to yesterday. I had invited the boys over for a movie night, so all the boarders were together with us last night. A few times during the movie I asked P if she needed help with her hair. I had set up an early morning appointment for her at a nearby shop, after she’d said her weaving was coming out and she needed to get it fixed. I knew she was supposed to take out the old ones before the morning, so thought maybe I could help her do it while we watched the movie. She said no each time, though, saying she didn’t need help. She also said she didn’t need help waking up in time in the morning [which is said each weekday as well, with each weekday needing, in fact, said wake-up call after all :-)]. I said ok, though—no wake up call—and before long headed to bed myself, being rather zonked from the first full week of teaching. The boys and Peace finished the rest of the movie while I read in bed. A bit later, once all were headed to bed, I heard a knock on the door. Peter answered from downstairs, and I heard her respond that she didn’t need him. She asked to come in and, when I said to come on in, she fidgeted for a moment before asking me what she should do about her hair. “Well,” I began, you can either stay up late tonight or wake up early in the morning—you do need to take them out, right?” She nodded, but didn’t respond. “Do you want me to help you?” I asked. She looked up then. “Will you?” I told her I would, and got out of bed. Realizing it was going to be along process, I called for assistance from a neighbor as well, who came over immediately. The two of us made relatively good time with the braids, chatting with P while we did. I told her the story of my hair-buzzing when I was in my twenties.
Frankly, for all my rule-enforcing tendencies, I was relieved that she had asked me to help her. Somehow it eased my insecurity over my role, and it gave a sense of purpose that calmed my nervous spirit. In so many ways, I know I am not suited to the roles placed in my life right now: teacher, parent, wife . . .
Lord help me as I piece them together, best as I can, and somehow, someway, survive the refining process brought about in the process.