Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Questions

So I’ve been thinking lately a lot about a particular topic. Well, two topics actually that are a little bit related. I’ve been trying to work them into poems, but nothing’s happening. Some may say I should make it happen, which is another topic entirely, but as everyone knows, a poem chooses you. Since this was the case, I thought I’d used the ideas and come up with a Mamablogue.

First, I think I may be ruining my children, and I think I may be unable to stop it. I am doing this with my behavior and it’s as simple as this: when the kids ask me for something, anything, like procuring food or drink, to load up pbskids on the internet for them, or Kammy’s favorite, to sit and watch a movie with her, I usually do it begrudgingly. How can a loving mother begrudge her kids these things?

Well, timing is a big part of it. I think they actually wait for me to have just sat down for a break before they ask me for help. They wait until after I have fed them lunch on a silver platter and with a flourish, and then they wait a little bit longer until I have scraped their plates into the garbage because they didn’t eat a bite of it, and then they ask me for food. And I have no idea why Kammy waits until I am in the middle of housework, when I’m so not busy with housework so much of the time, to ask me to watch a movie with her. And it’s not like she just asks, either; she completely lays a guilt trip on me, like I’ve been ignoring her for days.

Which might be more true than I actually realize. I spend a lot of time trying to tune my kids out. Well, let me be precise, since I am baring a grave fault. I spend a lot of time trying to tune my kids and their many friends out. I realize kids are just kids and that they come naturally with noise. When there are friends over, I try to let them work out their own arguments as much as possible and only intervene when necessary. So, sure, maybe she feels ignored.

Heaven knows I was completely lost in the shuffle and felt ignored when I was small. Maybe I feel like I am initiating my kids to Pi Delta Life’s Krappola or something.

This isn’t to say I actually was ignored. Well, yes it is, but it’s not to say I had a worse childhood than anyone else on earth. Even spoiled kids have a constant barrage of crap coming their way.

And that’s the thing. My kids are spoiled. The only way for me to naturally unspoil them is to have 4-6 more kids. And let’s face that; it’s not going to happen. I am unfit in every relevant way: emotionally, temporally, physically, and spiritually. I can’t provide them with siblings, but I can provide them with a circle of friends wherein they can learn to function in an environment that does not revolve solely around themselves. And I can ignore them and begrudge their requests.

Necessary? I think so. Cruel? I don’t know. Kidding myself? Most likely. So having dealt with that and effectively talked myself into the hero of for-their-own-good, I come down to the thing for which I cannot talk myself into forgiveness because I think it is unforgivable.

By begrudgingly meeting my children’s requests, by giving them dirty looks when they ask me questions, I fear I am teaching them to refrain from asking questions when they need answers, to refrain from asking for help when they require it. This is probably my own biggest hang up, asking for help when needed (actually it’s admitting I’m less than perfect, though I as well as everyone else can see I’m not. That’s why it’s a hang up). So not only am I projecting this crazy fear on them, I’m ingraining it into them. I’m telling them over and over and over that their questions don’t matter and that they aren’t good enough and that helping them is not worth my time.

And I think in this same way, I am teaching them not to dream because why ask for something if not only won’t they get it, but they’ll feel mocked and belittled for wanting it in the first place? I can already see in Zach a reluctance to ask me for help and a reluctance to ask me for the things he really, really wants.

But there’s good news, if you choose to see it that way. Yesterday I caught the two of them cracking up because Kammy was impersonating “the mom look.” This is a quelling look of supreme annoyance, anger, disgust and disbelief that the recipient could be so stupid that I think I inherited from my dad, though he doesn’t use it very often. Zach would say, “Do the mom look,” and Kammy would twist up her lips and glare at him and they would burst into giggles at my expense. So, maybe we’re even.

14 comments:

Dan said...

I know I'm not yet a parent (but I play one on TV) and so I don't have a lot of room to talk, but I have had the opportunity of watching brothers/sisters/brothers-in-law/sisters-in-law and others raise their kids, and I've seen what works and what doesn't.

Which is not to say that every kid needs to be raised the same as every other kid. They're all different and have different needs and personalities.

That being said, I think that sometimes you have to show a little "tough love" (I really hate that term, but there's not a generally-accepted better term).

I think kids have to learn early on, and consistently, that they're not going to get everything they want in life; that mom and dad aren't genies, existing solely to grant their wishes; that just because they want something doesn't mean they're going to get it.

I imagine that the one of the hardest parts about being a parent is knowing where to draw the line between giving your kids what they want and preparing them to grow up into responsible adults.

For each kid it's going to be a bit different, and I know I don't have too many years of parenting under my belt. But, I can say this from experience: the most successful adults I know are the ones who didn't get spoiled; the ones who learned early on that they had to make it through life on their own work and skill and not on what was handed to them.

Not that that makes anything any easier.

Kristin and Steve said...

Again...I think you are over thinking this. I mean...they are just kids right?

Teach them to eat when you put food in front of thier faces. Not just after you scape it into the trash. Let'm be hungry, it won't kill'm.

Teach them WHEN the best time is to make requests of mom. That will not only make you feel less guilty, but also to think ahead, plan ahead. No one taught me how to do that and I paid a big price thoughout life.

Just tell them, "This is not a good time to ask for ______. Try asking when I am__________.

Or in Colleen's (group home) words....just say..."Stop pestering me!" And let them figure life out on their own. That's what I did.

Russ said...

You know though, I've been watching from the sidelines for several years now and I've got to say you have some excellent children. I haven't heard Zach say "but I neeeed it" for ever. They generally do what you tell them to do, at least at moms and dads, they clean up toys they get in the car when it's time. I think you've done an amazing job with the both of them. It may seem at times that things aren't going well, but on the whole.... who knows?

Chiizukeki said...

I agree with Russ on that one. Kammy and Zach amaze me at least once every time I see them, and you have amazed me as a mother many times. YOU have amazed me. YOU consistantly get down eye to eye with Zach or Kammy and talk to them like an adult and explain things to them. I've seen it. You don't require perfection of them, and they certainly don't require perfection from you. The guy on the radio says it best when he says that kids haven't learned what you have learned, that's why they forgive so readily. So, give yourself some credit :)

MamaB said...

Wow! Amazing insight from all three of my brothers. Way to go, guys!

And I think for the most part they are right. I also know, though, that children are only little for such a short, short time. (I know it doesn't feel like that very often, especially when they are so little!) But they do grow up SO fast.

Elder Eyring said this about teaching little children: "The question must be, “With so little time and so few opportunities, what words of doctrine from me will fortify them against the attacks on their faith which are sure to come?” The words you speak today may be the ones they remember. And today will soon be gone."

I love that quote. I've been struggling lately with the same things you mentioned in your post. I haven't been spending time with my children. They will ask for something and I will tell them to wait a minute or that I'm busy. It's easy to want to push them away when it seems like they are always demanding so much of us and we have so many other things that we need to do (or want to do).

But I think when we push them away or leave them to play with friends for hours on end (as positive as that is for them and their social development) they lose out on the time we could be spending with them, building them up and forging a relationship of trust and respect.

As Elder Eyring said, we only have a finite amount of time to be with them and the time goes so fast.

Robert is right...you are a fantastic Mom. I look at the way you deal with your kids at Mom's (and granted, I'm nicer to my girls when I'm around other people too!) but you are just amazing! I should come and take lessons, because some of the things you do with them are fantastic.

Wow! Long post! But this is something that I have been struggling with for a long time now, too. Thanks for bringing it up!

Poohbear said...

I agree with Russ...Kam and Zach R really great kids....

Lisa said...

Wow! I know EXACTLY how you feel! In fact, as I was reading this I almost started to cry, because I feel the same way. I even try sometimes to explain my feelings of inadequacy to my husband, but he usually brushes it off and tells me I'm great.(As he should, right?)

But I can't escape the fact that sometimes I am increadibly overwhelmed by the responsibilities that lay on my shoulders as a mother. How many times a day do I do things that inhibit their growth and spiritual development? I too find myself giving the glares at the mere mention of the word "Mom?" sometimes. I feel so guilty about it.

And my biggest worry is not that I spoil my kids, but that I don't give them what they want often enough. Because sometimes you need to give them what they want, right? It's all very confusing and hard to deal with at times. I really admire that you are willing to write about it in your post.

You are so wonderfully human, Misty!(I hope that sounds right). And you're doing just as good as the rest of us. Wether that's good or not could be debatable, but I guess time will tell.

(By the way, thanks for your concern about me being sick. I've got a stomach bug that will hopefully go away soon.)

Keep your head up! I know your kids think you're great!

dave said...

Misty,

So we walk through some fire raising kids, isn't that what life is about? Going threw the trial and becoming something better? Is it about how beautiful our babies are? We'll maybe we break our hearts when we expect the unexpected and demand the maxium amount of happiness imanginable. As long as we don't fall off the log (Green Wilma). You can debate how people raise their kids, I would argue that the best thing for them isn't just words. You don't tune them out, because in the back of your mind you are thinking "is something bad about to happen?" and you stand at the ready. I wouldn't want to put the job of parenting in anyone's hands that isn't up for a challange. Now that is said and done, babe, get in the kitchen and bake me a pie!

annie said...

i love that you are honest about being a mom! you don't ever sugar coat it. it is hard...granted i am not a mom, but i see lots of moms around me. and i think you do an excellent job. you still have to try and remain sane! give yourself some credit...its well deserved!

Dave said...

Maybe I took your post a little serious. Dan started it. Just remeber at some point in our lives our kids will be picking out which old folks home we will live in, and as far as that goes I want a place that will wipe my 90 year old crack and turn me when I need turned! Our kids seem okay, not stuck on being spoiled, because there is only two, and they are each a diffrent gender so naturally they are the first without any hand me downs. The next and final kid we share together will have all the used car's underware from Zach (if a boy) or all the used princess panties from Kam, so in a sence, spoiled,hmm... no, just first in line. Also, I do like pie, sometimes. Not that I would ask you to bake one, but maybe this instead, Woman, get me a chef salad with crutons and ranch!

Kristin and Steve said...

I love that you married Dave. He is the perfect man for you. Also I love how odd it is that he love Chef Salad so much.

Gary said...

I would like to make a comment. You and David have done and still do a wonderfull job with those kids. I was going through all my files and pictures and video I have taken over the last few years and when I see the ones of the kids they are still the same. what I mean is, Zach and Kam have gotten a little older but they still know and love mommy and daddy and are still wonderful to each other. I know I dont have childeren. I know that I don't have much room to talk either but you guys again have done awesome with them.

Dave said...

I bring a lot of awesomeness to this realationship. Lara if your reading Misty's blog your kid wrote on my wall. It looks good, but he could use some hand to eye work.

Tuleps said...

Sorry Dave .. he really is not very good with writing utensils, but he also doesn't (usually) color on the walls. He doesn't even like to color most of the time. A little surprising, but we'll clean it up tomorrow if it's still there.