Nineteen Through Twenty-One, With a Cheat

August 21, 2010

Still following along with the Better Parent Challenge over on Motherhood Uncensored.  Not doing the day-by-day, really, just more of a meandering of my thoughts about how parenting changes as kids get older.

Challenge No. 19 Let the Other Parent Parent

In my opinion, this is different for me less because my kids are older, and more because of our family structure.  Which other parent should I allow to parent?  The Ex?  Writer Dude?  Both?  Neither?

The Ex is a selfish ass.  I’m sorry to be so blunt, but it’s the truth.  This summer, when the girls went to The Middle of the Country, they were in the throes of text message explosion and the summer phenom of late-night awakeness.  We had set a “technology curfew” in our house — phones and computers OFF and out of their rooms by [11 p.m. –  don’t judge.  I know it is a late time.  But it was more for Lemon than Mouse, and after surveying parents, I found that we were either an hour earlier or an hour later than most people].

The first two days that they were in The Middle of the Country, I checked my records with AT&T and saw texts and phone calls flying until 2 a.m. (eastern time, which is 1 a.m. in the MOTC – but most of their friends are here).

I wrote the Ex, despite many misgivings, and told him about the technology curfew, and the reason.  I was bracing myself for his response.  I expected:  “I do not need YOU to tell ME how to parent MY daughters!” As he has said to me many times in the past when I tried to share insights.  Because, well, he sees them 3 times a year, for very limited periods of time.

I was pleasantly surprised that instead, it seems like growth has taken place – perhaps because when they got off the plane and were suddenly towering over his new wife, he was petrified about how to handle them – and he took my advice.

This is progress.

But when they’re there – I’m still the parent.  We are the one they call with a problem.  I’m the one they call with requests. “Mom, I need a razor and shaving cream.”  “[Writer Dude] can you send me ___ a book?”  “We don’t have any games to play, can you guys send us some?”  “My flip-flops broke, can you get me more?”  If we tell them in response to ANY of the above “ask your father” they refuse.  Razor?  No – that’s embarrassing.  i can’t talk to him about that.  Books? No, he won’t do it.  (But the library!  I looked at a map, and I saw how close it is — we’re talking mere BLOCKS!  And free-ness!) Games?  Nope.  SHOES?  I mean, come on – SHOES?  Nope.

So excuse me for not seeing him as a partner, or a parent, or someone I should defer to.

Writer Dude is an excellent parent.  He loves the girls completely, and he is so thoughtful and engaged.  Yet, it’s hard for me to allow him a firm grip on the parenting reigns.  Especially with Lemon, because she has been more resistant to him as a father-figure.  And I don’t do well at backing off.  At all.

It’s a struggle.  And a point of contention between WD and me.  He often wants a chance to just have a conversation with the girls (i.e., Lemon) without me stepping in to explain one or the other perspective.

This challenge – I’d like to make my week’s focus.

Challenge No. 20 Keep a Journal.

Just.  No.  I would have done this when my kids were little and I was an at-home mom.  But now?  Nope.

[This is my cheat.  Just not doing it.]

Challenge No. 21Fake It

I do this all the time.  My girls can piss me off with their eye rolls.  With their change-of-attitude-on-a-dime.  Am I really going to pick that battle?  No.  I am not.  I let it roll off me, and move forward.

I remember being their ages, and having my mother YELL at me to fix my “attitude.”  And I remember how bloody unlikely it was that being YELLED at was going to IMPROVE my attitude.  I hate that word.  “Attitude.”  I’ve gone with “you are being rude,” instead, because of those horrible memories (the benefit of being a young-ish mom – I have excellent memories of what I hated with a passion.)


Now I’m off to deal with Argument No. 2 of this day:

  • No. 1:  “I hate flour tortillas, and you know it!  Why couldn’t you make mine with CORN tortillas!  It’s NOT FAIR!  You make HER vegetarian options all the time, but you won’t accommodate ME!  It’s so UNFAIR!”
  • No. 2:  “Wow, that camp sounds great.  I kind of want to go.  Can I go?”  “NO!  She can’t go to my camp!  It’s MY camp!  No No no no no!”  “But, Mouse, I can go a different session, I don’t have to be there when you’re there?”  “NO!  NO NO NO!  I’m exhausted and I can’t even breathe because of the tiredness and I WILL NOT have my sister at my camp!  Waaaaahhhh!

I think I need to go to bed.


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