Did I ever tell you about the time that I was standing in line at the grocery store and my daughter, who was around 5 years old at the time, broke into song, belting out Tracy Bonham's 'Mother Mother'? The lyrical bit she chose for her performance was the part where Tracy starts screaming, "I'm hungry, I'm dirty, I'm losing my mind, everything's fine!"
Yeah, that's one of those stories that is funny later...
How about the time that my daughters were in the front of my house building a snow fort, and I told them to "stay where I can see you" (cuz that is what mothers do), and five minutes later, when I went to check on them, I couldn't see Punky anywhere? I asked the Diva where her sister was, and she announced, "Oh, some guy came by in a car and asked if she wanted a ride, so she left..."
And then I heard the giggling from inside the snow fort.
Or how about the time I was sitting around with The Diva, and that commercial came on the teevee, with the impossibly young-looking children urging parents to talk to their kids about sex? Knowing full well what was coming, I played the straight man anyway, and said, "So....do you want to talk about sex?" to which my daughter, aged 13, replied, "Oh, Gawd, mother, we don't need to discuss this--I've been selling it on the streets for years..."
Funny, funny children.
In the last 15 and a half years, I've heard that word "Mom" uttered at least a billion times. "Mom, come look at this picture I painted", "Mom, come hear this song I've been working on", "Mom, look at the cat! Isn't he cute?", or "Oops, Mom, the cat threw up", "Mom, I don't have any clean jeans to wear to school", "Mom, what are you doing on my Facebook/Myspace page?", "Mom, come in my room", "Mom, get out of my room!", "Mom, when are we going shopping?", "Mom, why do you have to torture me by making me get up at 6AM?", "Mom, I forgot my _______", "Mom, can I have money?"
A lot of little girls grow up thinking about the day that they will be married and have children. Some start planning their weddings starting in junior high, and start picking out names for their future children at about the same time. I was never one of those girls. Getting married, and having children, never really occurred to me until it was actually happening. This failure to plan on my part has made for some very interesting moments, but has also allowed for a complete lack of frustration where these matters are concerned. I had no pre-set notion of what a wedding was "supposed" to be, and therefore got married on a beach at sunrise, because beaches at sunrise are cool. I never once concerned myself with who would show up, where they would be seated, which members of the family get along and which ones would have to be seated on opposite sides of the room from each other at the reception. Come along for the party or don't--it's all the same to me.
With children, it has been much the same--winging it, every day, based on simple criteria: Are they healthy? Are they happy? and Are they good people? And if the answer to any of those is "no", then who's ass do I need to kick (theirs and mine included) in order to turn that into a "yes"?
I have read all of the "supposed to's" regarding children, and I've met children who's parents have done everything "right". What incredibly boring children they are (those that didn't "act out", I mean...). Little robots. Well, I suppose the world needs people with no imagination, too...though, for the life of me, I can't figure out why.
In my opinion, we need more people bursting into song in random places. We need more people reminding us not to take ourselves so seriously. Life is short, after all. I, for example, am 42 years old--around half-done, if things work out the way I hope. When you look at it that way, think to yourself, "Do I want to spend the next 40 years worrying that things aren't going to go the way they are 'supposed' to?" Or even the next 40 minutes? What if 40 minutes is all I have? What a waste that would be, to have spent them frustrated and worried about things that don't matter, or that haven't even happened. This is where children come in quite handy--humbled, as you are, from the moment they are born, you immediately realize that everything you thought was a big deal before, isn't. How cool is that? Way better than breakfast in bed, or flowers, or chocolates...