Thursday, January 28, 2010

School is in session. Always.

Today I feel moody and irritable. And by "today," I mean "often." And by "often," I mean "pretty much all winter."

Before I had kids, I coped with this seasonal moodiness by taking to my bed when it hit the hardest. I would get up and go to work, but otherwise I'd curl up with a pint of Ben & Jerry's, avoid any unnecessary social interaction, and wait for it to pass.

Now that I have kids, I don't have that luxury (such as it was). So instead I ... take natural supplements. Take not-so-natural supplements. Exercise. Rest. Eat well. Eat chocolate. Cancel social engagements. Get up and go to social engagements I'd rather cancel. Etc. That sounds random, perhaps, but it's actually a fairly scientific system derived from years of personal trial-and-error, not to mention the input of more than a few professionals of various disciplines. Often, it works.

But not always. And while you are most likely reading this from a safe distance, my family gets the privilege of experiencing my ups and downs first-hand.

My daughter is getting old enough to understand that it's not always her. Sometimes it's me. She will, on occasion, suggest that I go put on my Disney Grumpy sweatshirt. (Or, as we in this house call it, "fair warning.") On a particularly rough morning last week, she actually said: "It probably would have been a good idea to count to five before that last sentence came out of your mouth." And she was right.

Which made me think, again, wouldn't it be great if my kids learned only from what I say, and not what I do? Because it turns out they are always watching and listening, even when I think they're not. And especially when I wish they weren't.

Here are some of the lessons I fear my kids are learning from me:

  • Sometimes, it only takes a little nudge to push someone over the edge. (Wheeeeeeeee!)

  • You don't have to listen the first time, because the other person will say it again. And if it's important, she'll say it louder.

  • Some of the words mommy says at home do not go over well at school.

  • Coffee is magic.

  • Just because someone exercises and eats well while you're watching, doesn't mean there will be any pie left when you wake up in the morning.

  • Sometimes the person who loves you most lets you down, then puts herself in a time-out, and you are the only one around who can pick you back up.

  • On the other hand, if I were the perfect mother I sometimes wish I could be, my kids would miss out on some other important lessons. Things that I have probably said a million times, but that are so much more powerful when they are modeled. Things like:

  • Crying is OK.

  • Time-outs aren't just for kids.

  • When you screw up, you say you're sorry (but don't expect it to fix everything).

  • You get out of bed and do your best every day, no matter what.

  • My kids and I have a little running joke. When one of them is recounting a mistake they made, or worrying about their performance in some activity or other, I ask: "Do you have to be perfect?"

    "No!" they say.

    "Is anybody perfect?"

    "No! Nobody's perfect," my angels respond.

    "But wait! Mommy's perfect, right?"

    At this, they dissolve into giggles. Oh, the hilarity that ensues!

    Maybe that's the best lesson of all.


    1. Love this, Jill. Your sense of humor even in the midst of grumpiness is great!

    2. Awesome! I do wish they would only take what I say and not be watching what I do every... single... minute. But there are good lessons in 'those' moments, too. Thanks for the reminder!

    3. Mommy may not be perfect, but she does sound pretty awesome.

    4. Loved this too. Laughed out loud at the pie part. We almost never eat dessert with the kids, but I noticed G noticing the B&J in the freezer the other day and furrowing his brow...

    5. I "guffawed" at "fair warning"...and about 5 other things. And not necessarily at the humorous parts too. There are always the many, many parts I can relate to in one way or another. I am so excited to read your blog every day (yes, I read every day...even if there is nothing new) and you always have a good lesson or a funny anecdote (often both) to share with the world in your very special way. You have a gift. Well, several actually...but then I think (hope?) you know that. :)


    6. No one told me that parenting could be fun, crazy, sad, exasperating, and beautiful all at the same time. Sometimes I wonder why I did 4 years of IVF treatments for the "joy" of parenting?! But now I know. And now I know that I'm not alone. And I love MOST minutes of it. THANK YOU JILL!!

    7. You are soooo smart to understand these dynamics. And right on the money about limiting interaction until it passes. Keep that sense of humor going - there's a lot to laugh about from the darker side of our nature.

      I enjoyed the 'nudge over the edge' part. Priceless.

      Uncle Doug