By Susan Howard
I am a grumpy parent.
At times I am overtired and annoyed at the drudge–organize the snack, start dinner and make sure the little ones don’t throw rocks at each other’s heads (Or if they do throw a rock, they at least act sorry for it.) It’s an underwhelming task, that I am over/under qualified for that leaves me to the point of annoyance, irritation or at minimum cool nonchalance.
I have little compassion, and even less patience. I lack feelings altogether if I am being totally honest. I guess that’s how I was raised. I think my own mother figured she would make us strong by letting us figure most things out for ourselves. There was love yes, but it was hidden in stringent behavioral barks. My mother, god bless her, was overwhelmed with three kids by the time she was 27 years old and with my dad in graduate school, she had no real daily support. So she ordered us around, her minions. My brother mowed the lawn, I went grocery shopping and my sister and I helped with laundry. She gave up on cooking almost altogether by the time I was 10 claiming that everyone wanted different things anyways and we could all just eat cereal, which we did by the bucket load. She probably got tired of throwing away untouched plates of what she had worked so hard to cook. To be truthful, my mother is not a good cook. To date she likes to eat out.
Quietly, I wish my family would just eat cereal in some ways. Screw dinner. A lot of people are super protective of their kids. “What do you want? What do you need? I want to give you everything.” I don’t feel that way, as I am mean mom and a personal trainer ta boot. I find myself barking orders. “You’re not listening. Push your sister again and you owe me 25 jumping jacks.” “Turn off the TV right now or you got 10 push ups.” This is me with my six year old. I haven’t given military routines to the 2 year olds, but they are next.
One time my daughter made the mistake of saying she didn’t want to stop off at the store on the way home from school she wanted to go straight home. You know what I don’t want to do? I ask. And the list began: pick you up from school, make your lunch, take you to art class, drive you to birthday parties, take you to soccer, and on and on. What do those things have to do with me? Nothing. Nothing is the answer, I just do them for you, and that’s all. We are a family and that’s what you do. You, my dear, are going to the store for me, because I need to go.
Maybe if their childhood is bad enough they have nowhere to go but up. Something to look forward to. This girl I grew up with got a white convertible with a car phone (a big deal at the time) for her sweet 16. What will she work towards my friends and I wondered. (She didn’t seem to wonder at all, she just cruised around in her awesome car.) Likely I have scarred all three for life by now. I don’t really worry about the therapy sessions I am undoubtedly driving them towards, and all the unsightly things they may say. Let ‘em, they are right, I am mean, and I am proud.