Month: June 2017
OK, so there’s a chance I overestimated my need to “be a single mom” while Bill was recovering from surgery.
In fact, quite the opposite has happened! I have spent nearly every waking moment in the hospital with my husband, making sure he can get up and around. It has been more like being retired than single motherhood.
Meanwhile, my children have been cared for in the best of ways – by grandparents. This means that they’ve gone off to school in the morning, come home and played video games and watched YouTube until dinnertime, then had people who love them like crazy take them out to dinner! It’s been more like a vacation than anything else.
So when I came home every night, the kids weren’t pleased to see me. They didn’t bother to look up from their computers or their TV screens to say hello. Two days in a row, I’ve been ignored. And even though I’ve pointed out that they’re ignoring me, the kids don’t seem to care.
Of course, I punctuate each evening with a lecture that sends Dylan storming upstairs to do whatever work his teachers have told me he hasn’t completed – as he screams that he DID THAT ALREADY! and that it’s ALREADY DONE! But his teachers send these emails while I’m at the hospital, and they say that Dylan has not completed his work, so… who am I to believe?
Shane barely even says goodnight, but I am here to make sure I can hear him if he wants to say it.
Interestingly, I am exhausted like I’ve been running a marathon, when all I’ve done, really, is sit in a hospital room and read a book.
Thank you, God, for grandparents.
This week, I am pretending to be a single mom. Well, except that I will also be caring for my husband at our house.
Bill is having an elective surgery, which will effectively put him out of commission for important things like mowing the lawn, cooking dinner and fixing the toilet. He will be rendered utterly helpless.
For a guy like Bill, this is a terrifying prospect. He lives to do things and help people. (I prefer to do nothing.)
When I was younger, I volunteered for the Red Cross. My job was to take a nearly blind woman to the grocery store, and help her put away the groceries when we got back to her apartment. I learned a lot during that very short volunteer job, but one thing stands out in my memory above all else:
She was always alone.
I asked her once about her husband, a man she’d lived with for several decades. “Do you miss him?” I asked. “I bet you think about him all the time.”
“Oh, I suppose,” she said. “He just did so much around here!”
This seemed like a sad response to me. Didn’t she like her husband? Didn’t she miss his laugh and all the stupid stuff he said?
Like my husband, hers was always on the move. He fixed things – small things, big things, all things. He cleaned things, shopped, made meals for the two of them. He just “did so much!”
But honestly, if my husband were actually gone – not just having surgery – I would miss his silly grin more than anything. I would miss the way he gets on my nerves, even though he really gets on my nerves. I would miss hearing his voice and having him sitting next to me in the evenings. He’s a good husband, and he does a lot. But he’s also my friend.
I know some single moms, and it is an incredibly difficult thing. Doing things alone is very hard. But I think what would be most difficult is not having someone to talk to, when you just want to talk.
Bill is a good man, a good provider, and a good role model for his kids. And it is going to be difficult to watch him rendered helpless – because I love him, and I don’t want him to feel helpless. I want him to feel strong and capable and able.
But for now, we have no choice. And living with that is even harder than having so much to do around here.
After posting my last blog entry, I realized that I may have titled it incorrectly, or maybe just put too much emphasis on the word, “proud.”
Even though my kids are the absolute light of my life – and I wouldn’t change one single, thing about them – it isn’t often that they hear me say the words, “I’m proud of you, Son.”
Am I proud? Yes! I am so proud, I could scream it from the rooftops! My kids are brilliant, beautiful, kind-hearted and funny. They are deep-down really, really decent human beings. I am incredibly proud of them, every single day of my life!
I AM PROUD OF MY BOYS!
But I don’t say that – and I am now going to address it with them (thanks to my previous blog post) – and also address it here.
When Dylan was two, and I was a fledgling parent, I read every book on parenting that I could read. I took parenting classes, mommy and me classes, and went to PEP seminars.
At some point during Dylan’s first year of preschool, a speaker came in and talked to us about increasing our child’s self-esteem. Included in this class were tips like, “Always point out specific things that you like about their work. Don’t just say, ‘That’s good.'” These were good tips.
Another thing the speaker said was, “Never tell your child that you’re proud of them. Point out, instead, that they should be proud of themselves. This will reinforce that feeling of pride in their accomplishments, and not make them dependent on you for reassurance.”
Dylan was two.
So I did these things, to the best of my ability. And I’ve done them to the best of my ability for 14 years now. Sometimes I stumbled and said, “I’m so proud of you!” And then followed it up quickly with, “You should be proud of yourself, too!” And I worried about that.
But after my previous blog post titled, “I’m Proud of You, Son,” I have had to rethink the past 14 years. I wonder, truly, if my children know that I am proud of them. I think I overlooked that part of the equation.
Instead of reinforcing how proud they should be of themselves, I may have eliminated a crucial part of successful parenting: letting my children know that I am proud of them.
So starting today, I am going to talk to them about what I learned – and what I apparently didn’t learn – and I’m going to make a concerted effort not to edit my words for the sake of their self-esteem.
When I’m proud, doggone it, I’m just going to be proud.