Saturday, January 30, 2016

Snowzilla & the Self-Righteous Mom

We had a little weather event here in Virginia this past week.  It snowed.  A lot. 

I dutifully made three trips to Target last week and stocked up on bread and milk.  I considered buying new $50 Lego sets for each of my boys, but then I realized that that would only buy me a few hours of quiet time and then I’d have even MORE Legos in my house.

Lots of people are posting their cute sledding photos on Facebook.  It’s fun to see all the kids who look like Ralphie's little brother Randy from A Christmas Story . . . “I can’t put my arms down!”  Everyone was so excited last weekend, enjoying each others’ company and tiring themselves out in the snow.  But it’s been 7 days now.  We’re done.

Except for that one mom.  You know the one.  Moms are posting all over Facebook about how ready they are for the kids to go back to school on Monday, but not THAT mom.  That Mom is NOT ready.  She’s enjoying every moment with her precious offspring, and she is treasuring this time with them.  What a blessing to have had these wondrous snow-filled days with them.

Well I call bullsh*t. 

I love my boys, and I have thoroughly enjoyed little snippets of our time together.  The first few days were fun.  We slept late, stayed in our pajamas, played in the snow, watched movies, did a puzzle, drank hot chocolate, made chili, and read books.  And then the next day happened, with the laundry and the neighbor kids and the stepping-on-melted-snow-with-socked-feet and the “wrestling” and staying up way too late. 

We’ve been bowling.  We’ve been to the jumpy place.   We’ve gone to the Rec Center.  We’ve gone out for lunch . . . and dinner . . . and breakfast.  I’ve let them play Nerf guns in the house.  I’ve let them slide down the basement stairs on their sleds, I pretended not to know that they jumped off the neighbor’s deck into the snow, and I guarantee there’s been a lot of unsupervised sugar consumption. 

I’m tired now.  By the time they go back, they will have been home for 10 straight days.  Hubby went back to work on Monday, so I’ve been in the trenches alone.  When they’re home over the summer, they can ride bikes, play ball, and go to the pool – there are lots of ways for them to get their boy energy out.  I’m living in a pressure cooker of dirty hair, sweaty socks, and a marathon of Impractical Jokers. 

So, That Mom . . . please don’t shame the rest of us with your self-righteous snow-posts.  I’m truly glad you enjoy your children.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy mine as well.  They’ll be right over.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Teaching Integrity

The quality I most admire about my father is his integrity.  He’s just a good guy, and he always seems to do the right thing.  I try to live a life of integrity, but sometimes it’s hard.  I lose my patience.  I clench my teeth.  I think hateful thoughts about inadequate drivers.  How do I teach my boys to be young men of integrity when the very definition is doing the right thing even when no one is watching?

Years ago, before the advent of self-checkout lanes—a lane where I don't have to make small talk about why I’m buying Diet Coke and package of 12 Entenmann’s donuts?  Sign me up!—I was in the express lane at Giant.  A few customers in front of me was a woman who had several items to purchase when suddenly she looked at the next customer’s items on the belt and  realized she’d forgotten to pick up bread.  She made a panicked comment under her breath about how she’d need to go back and get bread when the customer behind her said, “here, take mine.  I’m not in a hurry.  I’ll go back and get bread.”  He grabbed his items off the belt, got out of line, and headed toward the bread aisle.  As luck would have it, he got back to the line before she left the store, and in order to repay the kindness, she paid for all of his items. 

            Every once in a while you witness one of those rare moments that restore your faith in humanity in some small way.  It wasn’t a grand gesture.  It was a simple act of kindness that manifested into something else, because not only did the woman not have to get back in line or the gentleman have to pay for his items, but the rest of us in line witnessed something that made me, at least, pause and think about how little effort it takes to be kind.  There’s a difference between being nice and being kind, and I try to teach my children that they should be kind to everyone, even those who don’t seem to deserve it. 

            My father tells a story (and there are a lot of stories.  A lot.) about a man on a train whose children were wreaking havoc.  Trapped in a steel tube with unruly children is unpleasant, no doubt, and other patrons began snickering and whispering about the children’s behavior and apparent lack of discipline.  Finally someone spoke up and asked the man to control his children.  He seemed to be zoning out as he apologized and explained that he had just received some devastating news and he didn’t know what he was going to tell the children. 

            You never know what someone else’s story is, and as we approach the time of year when we get bombarded with the notion of Christmas cheer and the Spirit of the Holidays, perhaps we need to remember that everyone has a story.  I get stressed out over the holidays--the shopping, the baking, the crowds, the wrapping, the parties, the excitement, the travel—it’s so  . . . . much.  I find myself getting snippy and annoyed when I, apparently, should be feeling cheerful and jolly.  This year I’m going to make more of an effort to act with integrity and to be kind even when I’m feeling cranky and overwhelmed.  (Otherwise known as every day in December.)  I want to be able to show my children that I can take a deep breath and act with kindness even when those around me seem undeserving.  I can’t control how others act, but I can set a good example for my own family; because even when I feel like no one is watching, my kids are.