Wednesday, March 22, 2006

On being a parent...

All I ever wanted to be was a mom. My mother is the most kind-hearted, level-headed person I've ever known. And she's unflappable. Maybe it was the 10 kids and her bartender husband that did that. She used to say she didn't have any brain cells left after all of us! She just did what she had to do, I guess, on automatic pilot.

I used to think she was unfailingly kind, but as Ben grows up and is threatened with "You behave or you're going to have to walk home...I'm pulling over the car...clean your room if you want to go to the mall..." I mean, that ability to manipulate my child had to come from somewhere. And it's so cool, because if you stick to your guns it works every damn time! I'm not kidding! I actually did have to walk a few times when the desire to fight my brother or sister overcame my ability to self-advocate. Must have been worth it, I don't remember . And I know I missed trips to the mall, but not often. I used to think we were lazy, but I do remember being asked "please" to do things, and the guilt just drove us to do it. Ben is a hard worker, compared to other kids his age. That had to come from somewhere, too.

I mean, my God, my father worked 16 hour days and Mom was left feeding,clothing ,chauferring , and giving maid services to 10 thankless hellians. She had to get the upper hand, somehow. But I seldom remember her even raising her voice, and even less getting angry. The woman was brilliant...a Svengali!! It wan't in an evil or sinister way, but it was hypnosis, none the less. Somehow, you would rather die than break her heart.

Dad was a different story. He rewarded you for putting yourself out there. I think he liked "smart-ass" kids. As long as you knew when to quit. I think he was easily bored and looked to us for entertainment. And we all vied for center stage in our own way...and I think we still do! Making him laugh was the coup de grace! I think he worked so hard and was under so much stress, he needed it.

Dad always gave us Sundays. Rides around the lake, rodeo's, stock-car races, swimming at the lake, fishing , picnic's...Sunday was "Family Day" and other kids were never allowed to go along, because, well, who wants to babysit the neighbors kids for a whole day!? I remember those days as being so free and easy.

I never remember my parent's abusing, or even be-littling me. I'm not saying they never got angry with me, because neither of us were perfect. But I do know, when other kids wanted to run away from the rules and regulations of their homes...we didn't want to miss out on a good time! Except that one time my brother packed up his hobo bag and threatened to live at the river. He was gone and came back before he was missed...made me kind of sad because it was my fault he was running away...but we won't go into that!

You know, initially I tried to use the "Psychological" standards of our day to raise Ben. If I did everything right, he would never need a psychiatrist when he grew up...But it drove me crazy. Our children need, more than our self-righteous platitudes and "non-dysfunctional" family standards...our children need our unconditional love and more than much more than anything at all...they need to know that they bring us joy. Without that, you can kill a child's spirit, no matter what psychological method you use.

Thank you Mom and Dad. This is the letter I should have written years ago...

Love you lots....Rose


Anonymous said...

What a great life you must have had. I envy you

r.b. said...

Yuu know, I am sensing a simpatico with you, almost like we had the same parents...

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