Friday, September 10, 2010

Lessons Learned, Forgotten and Relearned.

I find the great thing about life is that it keeps teaching me things until I learn them.

I find the annoying thing about life is that it keeps teaching me things until I learn them.

Before the summer began, my expectations rose, grand and proud imagining the bevvy of symbiotic togetherness with my kids. I was almost sanctimonious in my aspirations and hopes for the always-enjoyable time we'd spend. Apparently I was delusional. Because this summer, we've been trudging through the mud. After all the tantrums, mediations, huffy exchanges, screaming, emotional outbursts and punishments, I'm exhausted. And deflated. (And, for the record, I feel self-indulgent even thinking this, never mind writing this and publishing it here. I feel like a whiny, selfish snot. My life shines like a bright light--so full of warmth, grace, love and good fortune.)

Of course,
our summer presented many fabulous moments. Dear friends and family visits, vacations, multiple beach trips. Our week-long family beach vacation presented tiny gifts in the form of undivided attention, which I drizzled and poured on my children. They rose, stretched and thrived.


The rest of the summer...well, the rest of the summer, I've frankly felt flat. I've now realized, I really haven't been with my kids, despite the fact that we've been together day after day after day. I've been....elsewhere. Submerged in my thoughts.

My children felt this, because they house fabulous intuitions. They inherently know. They know that they've haven't really had my attention, save those rare moments during vacation. They see me nod, clap, hug, kiss and cook but they know that I'm going through the motions, even though they don't own the words to articulate it.

Their behavior reflects the knowledge of their mommy-deficit. As my mother-in-law wisely noted during her week visit: when children can't get their parents' attention by behaving well, they resort to getting any, even negative, attention. Even if it's the form of firm words, time-outs and lengthy lessons about "the right choice". I left my children starving for me.

So, when Abby or Henry throw a rock of yucky behavior into our mud, it splatters. Their negative behavior brings me down, and I then bring them down, and then they bring me down. Splat, splat, splat. We all spiraled down together and I, as the adult, did not remain calm, nonplussed. I tantrummed along with them.

I've suffered my guilty thoughts, my nagging doubts and self-disappointment somewhat silently, save for the rare explosion to Hubby, or the text to dear friends, which could usually be summarized in four letter words.

We're all worn from the summer months of continual togetherness.

And, in a not unusual, ironic turn, we're all richer for the continual us-ness.

As I shake the metaphorical mud from our boots and wipe my brow, I look up from our trench of learning. I see the sun, brightly illuminating my lesson, once again: ups and downs, Denise. Ups and downs.

I don’t quite know why I force myself to reconcile these two realities because that’s what they both are: realities. Clean boots and muddy boots. Some moments blissful and others reproachable. The other day, after a long string of yuck, I sat in the driveway watching Hubby teach Abby how to play Lacrosse. The shade danced around me as the wind lyrically rustled the leaves. Henry played quietly. Abby’s and Hubby’s full laughter punctuated my thoughts. The sunlight illuminated Abby’s golden curls. I admired her long, lean muscles and quest to learn something new. My mind quieted and suddenly, I was exactly where I was. Thankfully, aware and still enough to realize this was an Up. And I'd better pay attention. I did.