You have taught me how to roll with the punches. How to accept broken things offered up with tears, and turn them into discussions that somehow make you at ease with their broken-ness, or even delighted with the things that we can learn from something that otherwise hid its secrets. You have taught me to look outside of what I know and the words that I have for describing things. Both to you and to myself. You have taught me that the most perfect things in life are are complicated things.
Sometimes I am that mother caught in the middle of three very different children who need three very different things, and I’m forced to go through triage in the middle of a very public situation as I have no quick and easy escape since I’m a taker-of-public-transportation and have no car that I can flee to. But those moments teach me how to read each of you better, how to anticipate your needs better, how to cajole you, how to engage you in missions of distraction.
Sometimes I am that mother turning seventeen different shades of bright red when the waiter brings our food and you loudly declare “FART TREES! MY FARTS WILL BE SO STINKY” when you see the broccoli that came with your dinner. But I am also that mother whose kids are eating broccoli. (And the mother who will make a point of serving “fart trees” that precious first time that your first girlfriend comes to dinner. I promise she’ll find the stories cute. Plus I’m curious if your faces can turn as bright red as mine has.)
You have taught me a different sort of diplomacy that I might never have otherwise learned. You have taught me to listen to the words of someone whose goals are very different from mine, to try and understand the root of their desire to do something that I would never want to do, and to negotiate with someone so completely and totally illogical that it is very tempting to just pick them up and carry them somewhere else or to resort to the simple “DO WHAT I SAID”. (Which never works long-term.)
You have taught me how to go with the flow of things while laying building blocks for the things that I want you to someday understand. How to demonstrate the behavior that even I as an adult find difficult sometimes.
This week you both made me ridiculously proud.
I., at five and a half years old you listened to me calmly explain that Gramma had made you something new because she was excited to share a new food with you, and that when you yelled at her that you didn’t want it, you might have hurt her feelings.
You turned to her unprompted and said “I’m very sorry, Gramma. Thank you for making that for me, but I really don’t want it right now.”
A., at two years old you listened to me explain that your brother was upset because you turned off the TV show that he was watching. And you marched back into the room and said “I’m sorry, I.”
At five and two, you guys are learning how to do the things that adults have a hard time doing. Not by force, not by requirement, but by example that I confess I sometimes find difficult to provide. And at thirty-two I’m so very grateful for the example that you set for me in turn. I’m so very grateful how you teach me to let go of things that I’ve struggled to hold onto in the past.
Together we’re learning to roll with the punches.