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I caught myself today. Well, I"m trying to catch myself. From falling all the way down. I keep tripping myself up all the time in this journey of parenthood and wondering where I"m going wrong. But today, this Easter day, I nearly crashed. Or maybe I did and I just pulled myself up out of it. I still feel like I've failed. I just KNOW it. I'm not in denial. I'm not faking it. I just don't know how exactly I'm going to get out of it.
My kids are old enough now that it's really tough .... to please. To get the wow factor out of them. To impress them and get that wonderful feeling every parent loves...like when they used to see you as the King or Queen who provides for them, protects them, and brings them all their happiness. When a kiss used to fix all their mishaps or imperfections. Those days were the easy days. I wish I had known that then. Maybe I would have relaxed a bit, or enjoyed it even more, if that was even possible. I loved those days. I thought I enjoyed them as they were happening, I really did. I took pictures, I took video, I laughed, cried, walked and talked with them. It was wonderful. But I blinked and they became teenagers. Well, two of them are at least and I'm wondering where time went. Did I form them into the young people I hoped and dreamed they would be. Are they gracious and thankful, polite and courteous, loyal and respectful, helpful of anyone that needed help....Those are the questions I am asking. And though I doubt myself all the time because that is my nature, I am almost always comforted at the end of a challenging time that they are the kids I laid the foundation for. Yet I am beginning to see the paradox in parenthood of our generation clearer every day.
We want the best for our kids and always will, just like our parents did. We want to give them more than our parents gave us or could give us. But it seems somewhere along the way, our striving for perfection became self-fulfilling. I'm constantly trying to do a better job than I did yesterday or last year or last kid or last birthday or last holiday. It's exhausting. Somewhere along the way it became so very physical and materialistic and about things, not feelings.
I did it this Easter. I have been thinking/stewing about it for two weeks and in my denial of how quickly the days were passing, soon it was the weekend and the next day was Easter. My sister had come to visit and it seemed like it would be much easier or more comforting or funner or perhaps enabling (lol) to do the Easter rush with her. It was. All of that. And we even shared a bottle of wine and watched a movie during easter bunny preparations until the wee hours of the morning. But I never stopped wondering if what I had bought for my kids for their baskets was good enough or equal or appropriate or sentimental enough.....or just enough. Given the snow covered ground this weekend, we had no choice but to hide easter eggs inside the house this year. For 9 kids. Four of them 16 or older. Owen is 5 and it's really fun at his age because he's still at the age that anything will make him smile. He is so lucky to not have any expectations. He is just happy to get something. I don't think he cared what it was. But the older kids have expectations because they get stuff every holiday, every year and lots of it. And the older they get it seems the more expensive it gets.
And then I see myself and wonder how did I let this happen. Why do I feel like I need to do this and have to try and do better this time than I did last time. Because the harder it gets, the more I don't feel like I'm try to outdo myself, but rather keep up with myself. I fear more doing less than I did last year....because I'm tired, because it's too expensive or I just don't get it all planned out well enough. And I don't have help. Patric helps by providing the money to let me do their baskets, but the rest of it is on me.....fitting it into the budget (or not and then stressing about that) and then the time to prepare and each year I feel like I fall short. And this year I got to do this and share the stress with my sister ;-) but staying up all night did not do me any favors. I was short on sleep and when the kids woke up to find the eggs, I was about half way into my necessary sleep time. I was exhausted. And when the kids walked around our small house searching for nearly 100 eggs, the comments from the hard-to-please crew started landing on my ears about how easy it was to find their eggs and baskets and the lack of thankfulness or gratefulness just started to get to me. The exhaustion setting in and lack of patience taking over as I worked on our holiday meal continuously all morning. It got to me. It caused me to crash. As I was waiting for rolls to rise, I found myself in bed. trying to hide under covers and fall asleep for some peace and quiet as half of our crowd went to church. My mind racing trying to figure out where I had gone wrong. Why I felt like my kids were so demanding and inconsiderate of the effort and care and love that I put into this holiday for them. I was trying to hide from it. And I realized this....but I also realized I don't know what to do. I feel myself in this rat race and I need to get out of it. I want my kids to appreciate the things we give them. I want them to be respectful and courteous. I know they are all of these things. But I want them to see the difference between needing things and wanting things and whats most important. I want them to be helpful when they are guests and leave things they borrow in better condition than they found them. I want them to be able to cook for themselves the basics and offer to cook for others and clean up after them. I know these are things that my kids are capable of even though they may not do it all the time. I want to have as much faith and confidence in my parenting as I do in them that this is how I have raised them and am raising them and that when not under my watch, they continue to behave this way.
It's a constant work in progress. It's a constant battle and a constant act of living by example which I am not the best at either. I just want to instill in my kids that things have value and that they value them appropriately and intelligently. These are things I'm not perfect at. But I am trying and will not give up. I will continue to tell them the things I want them to know and believe and trust. And how much I, and most importantly God, love and value them. These are the things I can do. And I will try.