Should a mom teach family members “how to be me”?

Ha. As if…

Sometimes, I fantasize about what I feel life around here should be like. I have this image in my head where everything has a place, everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing, everyone is mutually respectful of one another…

As if…

I am rarely, if ever, absent from home or from the kids. I plan my stuff around when the kids are in school, and I have to admit that my life has become easier with both kids in school full time. I do get a few hours of family-free time and some days I cocoon myself in my four walls and shut off everything so I can hear myself think. In return I am better able to handle their incessant noise when they do come home, and even enjoy it. They are active, healthy and mostly happy kids…and I don’t want to miss out on their quirkiness. It’s been a long road, but  I think we’re there…sort of. Like I said, I have time to hear myself think most days…

What a concept.

This step into the next phase of life, having school-aged kids, has been good for me, mostly. But it has also awakened me to realize that I may be a little too obsessed with everyone else’s methods of doing things. Their ways don’t always mimic my ways, and learning to step back and let them do it their way hasn’t always been easy for me.  For instance, DH has a certain way of folding laundry, Ben has a certain way of stacking dishes, Sonja has a certain way of leaving trails of tiny toys around the house…

Sigh.

It doesn’t help that this house is small and crowded and makes me feel like I’m suffocating in stuff, but with a little bit of foresight and a lot of supervision, it is manageable. I just have to enforce, and re-enforce that certain things have to be put here and not there, kind of thing. If there’s a designate spot to put your stuff away, then do it, preferably without being directed, and we’ll all get along much better. No one wants to trip over wet boots and unpacked lunch bags on their way in the front door.

But not everything needs to be directed to that degree…and letting go hasn’t been as smooth as it should have been. So what if the laundry is folded differently? At least it’s folded. Even if it doesn’t fit properly in that drawer folded that way…

See what I mean? I get very distracted about this stuff.

There is a prevalent theme about ‘how to be me’ that keeps popping into my head. I drive the household around here, and I have certain visions how things should be done so that everyone will get along better and feel comfortable, even though my standards are very different from theirs. But how far do I take this ‘being me’ part? If he can cook amongst clutter, and deals with the clutter himself afterwards, who am I to say that he should clean the clutter up before cooking? Maybe I should just stay away from the kitchen when he cooks and not try to ‘help’…

I was raised to do homework on a clear, clean desk. I had my own desk…now, the kids do homework everywhere. At the kitchen table, on the floor, on the bed…I find it hard to adjust to, but ultimately, if they do it correctly, and, more importantly, legibly, who am I to tell them not to write their notes on the floor? What does it matter, in the grand scheme of things, WHERE they do their homework?

I am way too preoccupied about this stuff, and waste way too much emotional energy trying to micro-manage every little thing.

I came across something while reading blogs the other day where the couple had an outing, a date of sorts. The mom left a note for the teenaged kids to do certain things in her absence and although in some ways it appeared to be kinda funny, especially because the kids took it upon themselves to leave sarcastic remarks on the note, I thought to myself “she is very particular about inconsequential things for the few hours she’s absent from the household”. Interestingly enough, I saw a bit of myself in her…

Ok, granted, I would probably leave a similar note, with things like “do your homework before you start the tv” and “don’t forget to fill up the guinea pig water bottle” or something to that effect. But would I leave an itemized list of every single thing that normally I would supervise the kids doing? Would it really be the end of the world if they didn’t do x and y while I wasn’t around?

This is a rhetorical question since I can’t leave the kids alone yet at their age. I’m just thinking about how I am and how I may be later, when they’re older. Do I HAVE to state they need to empty the dishwasher, or put their dirty dishes in the washer? How long do I have to remind them to do their homework? When will they assume responsibility of these things without me hovering over them? And, if I am away when they get home from school, will I have to leave an itemized note for them?

Again, it’s rhetorical. I’m just thinking out loud here…

This entire parenting journey has been very reflective for me. I wish I did a lot less talking, and a lot more listening. But while I watch the children grow up into these bubbly, interesting personalities, I find myself doing a lot of growing too. Seems I am still not completely grown up.

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