Have you ever been driving down the road and a song came on the radio that you just needed to hear, and your kids decided to freak the fuck out?
This happened the other day with my three tweens. We were headed home from Target where I had just bought them lavish gifts — and by that I mean I stood with them in the Dollar Spot and toy section long enough that I had to leave them twice to pee as they decided how they were going to spend all their Christmas gift cards.
Parents do things like this because
we can look at our phones without interruption are patient and kind, and we want our kids to enjoy certain experiences. I also topped it off with Icees and soft pretzels because I am super fun. So on the drive home, when Phil Collins’s “Against All Odds” came on and his voice made me tingle like a school girl, I really wanted to listen. And when my “Please be quiet, I want to hear this song” was met with spewing nonsense about it being “so old-fashioned,” and ” How is this not hurting your ears?” and “Seriously, Mom this is so horrible I am suffering,” I lost it. I just suffered through the toy section for half the damn day, so they can let me have this moment, and they did.
When they were younger and they would talk, sing, or want me to tell them a story during a song that took me to majestic nights of yesteryear when I had big hair and wore fucking huge ruffles, I wouldn’t have argued. It was easier for me to tell the story and just let them listen to what they wanted to hear. All the while I was thinking, I can go back in time later. I don’t have it in me to disturb the peace that is happening right now. But I have done my time, those days are over, and my kids are old enough to shut up for three minutes so I can feel the music.
My kids don’t need to take things away from me (including Phil), and they are also old enough to know I expect them to keep nice things nice, and not everything is theirs for them to trademark, and let me tell you, the nice things are coming back into my life, and my grip is tight.
You can have nice food.
When I buy myself special food, some chocolate for instance, I don’t put it in my best hiding place, because my mom brain has taken over and I am sure to forget about it. Because my kids can read, a nice threatening note does the trick. Gone are the days of “What’s mine is yours, and I will give you some to keep you quiet so I can make a phone call.” They are old enough to know to keep their filthy hands out of Mom’s chocolate, and I am not going to hide in the closet or choke down my candy in the pantry in hopes they don’t hear the wrapper. I simply don’t share everything with them. I can be a dick like that.
You can have nice clothes.
I don’t buy disposable clothing anymore. I have retired from being a human Kleenex. And you bet your ass I dress up a little more now that I am not chasing after toddlers all the time. It is glorious. And my daughter does borrow my clothes, and her friends do come over and play dress up, but they ask, and there are certain things that are off-limits. Mama has nice things, and they are going to stay nice because I am not going to let you touch them. Yes, it is just a thing, but there is nothing wrong with kids learning to respect and value things, especially things that are not theirs.
You can have your nice phone back.
Of course, I used to bust out the phone and hand it over to avoid a meltdown or occupy them when I was craving some quiet or wanted to get something done, but these days, it is not their toy. It is a very expensive device that I use for work and sometimes lengthy conversations that are laced with profanity. Besides, they have their own devices now, no need to touch mine.
You can have a nice shower.
I certainly do take a shower, sometimes a very long, hot one, and they know to leave me alone. My kids know I’m going to shower, shave, and put on makeup, and they are aware I only respond to emergencies while I am behind closed doors. We spend years trying to entertain them so we can just slip in and out of the shower and, with dripping locks, run to their rescue to make sure that they aren’t into anything or killing each other. When your kids are older, this is your time; this is your turn to take the fucking shower.
You can have a nice, clean house.
If they make a mess, they clean it up. The responsibility is not all on you. They can wash their own clothes, wipe their own piss off the floor (sadly, this still happens), and clean up their own dishes. They don’t wipe their hands and faces on the sofa anymore because they know if they do, they are the ones that scrub it out. Sweeping and vacuuming happens on the regular, and their laundry is theirs. They take care of it.
So right now, you may be at “we literally cannot have nice things,” but believe you me, soon you will go back to being able to have nice things. You deserve it. We go through years and years of them destroying things like furniture, our favorite books, and giving them our chocolate just so we can have a moment of silence. This is what we sign up for. We adore the younger years, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get frustrating to walk in on your toddler who has broken your new sunglasses and smeared lipstick all over the cabinets. It’s not complaining — it’s called looking forward to some nice things in life because our kids are going to grow up and that will be hard in an entirely different way.
But with that new stage comes more able, knowledgeable kids who are capable of letting you have nice things again and learning to respect other people’s things as well as their own. It is an important life skill, and it is really exciting when a damn song comes on the radio that makes you feel like you are 14 again and you get to listen to it.