One of three things happened in my childhood.
Either (A) it was pretty idyllic,
(B) all that Sun-In I put in my hair turned my brain cells to mush
or, more likely, (C) my parents handled parenting with a lot more grace than I.
I started thinking about this during one of my mommy meltdowns. The ones that are preceded by something like:
Step 1: I walk into house.
Step 2: My 6 year old asks me: “WhatsForDinnerCanWeHaveMacAndCheeseByTheWayYouForgotTo
Step 3: My 10 year old says: “IhateMacAndCheeseCanWeHaveChickenThatsMyRainbowLoom
Step 4: My husband tells me he has a last minute work meeting and has to leave in 15 minutes.
Within moments, the kids are yelling at each other, I am yelling at the kids, and my husband is yelling at me for yelling at the kids.
When I think back to my own childhood, I don’t recall my parents struggling with this chaos. Both of my parents worked full time, and yet they managed to successfully raise children without the internet and iPhones. I didn’t text them to come pick me up when I was ready to come home, they trusted that when they told me they’d pick me up at Roller Palace at 9, I’d be outside waiting. We sat down to eat every night without the assistance of a microwave. Clothes shopping consisted of physically taking us to a store once a season and making us try on clothes. It was tortuous and boring, but no one sat us down with a phone to entertain us while our sister tried on yet another pair of acid washed jeans.
Despite the lack of the conveniences I have at my disposal, I never saw them overwhelmed or beleaguered.
So why am I such a basket case? If I have the benefits of all these modern amenities, why am I so stressed?
And what about my children? What will my kids remember about their childhood? Will they remember the days that I cried because I was overwhelmed? That I yelled at them in frustration? That I showed my emotions, and when they asked why I was angry, or sad, or just in a bad mood, that I was honest and told them that sometimes being a mom isn’t so easy?
Or will they remember that I’m a really amazing cuddler? That I love them fiercely? That I try to make them laugh at least once a day?
Will my daughter remember that I set my alarm to wake up at the crack of dawn and watch all four hours of the royal wedding with her? Will she remember that I officiated at her Barbies’ wedding, and threw them a hell of a bridal shower? Will she remember my April Fool’s Day pranks?
Will my son remember how excited he got the first time I played Nirvana for him? How I loudly I cheered at every baseball game, even those brutally hot July playoffs? That when he wanted to try snorkeling this year, I held his hand as we jumped into the ocean together, and then towed him back to the boat an hour later when he was too tired to swim any more?
I don’t know that I will ever be a graceful, calm parent. I don’t know that I will ever be able to shield my children from seeing me struggle. But I’m committed to making sure that their childhoods have plenty of joyful memories, and hope those are the ones that define me best as their mom.
But just in case, I’ve got a stash of Sun-In I’ve been saving for their teenage years.