Monday, December 12, 2011

The Beauty a Moment Can Bring

Fuzz and Roo in the Dog House

My husband has been watching me struggling with parenting over the last couple of weeks.  His children are now in their 20s--grown and off on their own.  While he's dealt with his fair share of issues over the years, I appreciate the way he's there to support me versus lecture me--or even worse step in and override my parenting decisions.  He's seen me frustrated, angry, in a state of utter confusion, and also on the brink of insanity.  I've heard the definition of insanity leave his lips on more than one occasion--doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

After spending the week at their dad's, my daughter would be coming home at 5 pm and I'd be picking my son up at work at 9 pm.  There was still a bit of looming drama in the air, as all of the past week's antics were handled via mobile phone.  Upon her arrival, with the one month's grounding in place, she immediately tailed it up into her room.  The welcoming was brief--not the usual.

It was in this moment that I had a choice to make.  And those of you that have children and are divorce understand the guilt that coincides with it.  Sometimes out of guilt I find myself pacifying my children rather than parenting them.  I'm not proud of this, it's simply the truth.  The quick to forgiveness--before the punishment has been fully delivered--or the ending the grounding early--because they'd been good for an entire 24 hours.  Growing up in a home where the iron rod was ruler, I remember being alone in my room.  I remember the horrible thoughts that would go through my mind.  I remember being angry and wishing for a bit of comfort.  And there are parts of me that don't want to inflict that pain onto my children.  Moments where I forgot how tough parenting also allowed me, as the child, to learn there were consequences for my actions.  Why in the world would anyone change their behavior if not tied to a consequence?  A real consequence that would be seen through until the end.  

A great day at Sea World in San Diego

And with these thoughts in the forefront of my mind, I changed my behavior.  I walked into my daughter's room, where she was still sulking.  She was expecting a battle, and believe me her armor was prepared.  But there'd be no battle today.  Instead, I sat next to her and told her of my concerns and of my love for her.  I didn't hound her or even stay.  I let her know I'd be there to talk whenever she was ready--be it tonight, tomorrow or next week.  And then I left her alone.

Now for those of you that don't know me, leaving her alone in her room is like putting candy in front of a baby and saying "Don't touch it!"  My husband could sense the anxiousness and would periodically take my hand or give me words of encouragement.  I couldn't expect different results if I didn't make some changes.  An hour later I could hear my name being called--with an invitation to talk.  And we did, calmly.  She was able to truly understand her punishment and, because I showed her dignity and grace with the delivery, I feel she has a better idea of what I meant when I told her to accept her grounding with dignity and grace.  

Being silly on the beach--I love their sense of humor!

We spent the next hour sitting at the kitchen table--with her doing her French homework and teaching me how to speak.  I was horrid at speaking French!  We laughed at my mispronunciations and had fun--doing homework.  She decided to come with me to pick up her brother.  The moments spent driving to the store reminded me of how incredibly lovely my daughter can be.  Her excitement when talking of the things that bring her joy or the seriousness when asking me questions about a boy she loves bring about a sense of pride inside of me.  I think of my mom's quote from a week ago--and I cherish every moment of this car ride.   

When I see my son, he's his goofy self--sneaking to the parked car, tapping on my window, and scaring the bejesus out of me.  They chat the entire way home, without fighting, without arguing, without making me want to jump out of the car.  It's a beautiful moment.  A beautiful car ride.  A beautiful reminder of the wonders of my children.  This is going to be a beautiful week!

My beautiful children--all dressed up for Homecoming 2011

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