Yesterday was a bit of a doozy for me, seemingly less so for her. In all it was a very good day, but as a newbie parent of an older child, I struggled. Here’s what I learned on Day 4.
5. If you are a drinker, you will finish the bottle of wine after the kid goes to bed.
Yeah, you will. Don’t even think you won’t, no sense in lying to yourself. We went to the museum of natural history today; Hope is very tactile and very curious. I realized that she’s also fairly well read today as well. I get overstimulated at museums, but taking your kid to a museum seems to be a good, worthwhile endeavor, right? We spent 4.5 blasted hours in the museum. 4.5!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m telling you if they sold booze, I would’ve bellied up to the bar and ordered a $30 rail drink. I was so desperate for an adult beverage; that it could’ve been a no shelf kinda drink.
When I got home, I killed the last 3rd of that bottle of $2 buck Chuck Beaujolais while she did homework in her room. Yeah, I did.
4. Your game face must be strong because the lying is persistent.
Seriously, there are little lies like, “I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to eat all of the gummy multivitamins you bought me two days ago.” There are whopper lies like, “I rode an elephant bear back one time.” As long as the lies aren’t pointing to a safety issue, you just can’t even bother with a strong reaction. At least I try not to bother. I just click my head to the side and with a bit of sarcasm in the voice go, “Really? Oh, ok.”
Sometimes you really just can’t tell whether the kiddo is lying or not. For instance, yesterday Hope told me that several friends (aged 12-13) smoke pot on a regular basis and come to school high. I pray this is a lie, but honestly I have no way of knowing. I remember in back in the day (also 7th grade) I bought a peach Jolly Rancher stick, and Chris Tucker, a boy I liked at the time said my breath smelled like weed after I smoked it. I’d never knowingly smelled weed, so I took his word for it and started buying a different flavor. After I was good and grown I smoked a bit of pot in my day. Yeah, peach Jolly Ranchers don’t smell at all like weed. Of course kids today get exposed to so much more than I ever was in my time.
Of course there is a cumulative effect of all this lying and other accompanying behaviors takes their toll, which leads me to #3.
3. Some meltdowns are completely unpredictable, and it could be the kid melting or it could be you melting.
I will cop to having two moments where I barely held onto my sanity and had mini-breaks yesterday. Patience is one of the virtues I’ve been working on for more than a decade. Hope brings new sets of triggers that I didn’t know existed. Most of them I can handle, but cumulatively…oy vey. There is a word that I have decided that we will not use in our home; we’ve been working on not using this word since I was in Seattle. Her new tactic for using the word is to add the word, “LIKE” in front of it. She repeatedly used it during a conversation as we were driving to the metro station yesterday. When I initially corrected her, she said, “Well I didn’t actually say that such and such was stupid (<<<<the word I have banned because of excessive and mean usage), I said such and such was LIKE stupid.” She then grinned at her cleverness.
We went back and forth on this for about 90 seconds while in the parking garage, until I hit the brakes, put the car in neutral, pulled the hand-break, and spoke my peace and ended the discussion. I immediately regretted having a “Don’t make me stop this car” moment without warning. It startled her and scared her a bit and she went into sad/mad/quiet mode. The good news is that our sad/mad/quiet modes (both of ours) are shortening. We recover, we talk about and we move on.
2. Do something to take care of yourself
Self-care is essential and I’m not just talking about the booze. I’m letting her sleep an extra hour this morning so that I can have a little extra me time. I drug myself out of bed and exercised. After the first 10 minutes I could tell my mood was lifted and my tank was getting filled. Today I’ll focus on getting and staying hydrated.
I really need to prep a speech I have to make next week and I really need to work on my dissertation. I’ll set 20 minute goals for those tasks today. Twenty minutes is better than no minutes. The point is, that although life is changing so dramatically, there are still things I need to do for myself. They make me feel good; they help me maintain a separate identity from “Mom;” they keep me sane.
1. Enjoy the random.
In the midst of my museum induced misery, Hope just came over and hugged me. She didn’t verbally say anything; she just hugged me. That hug said everything. It is why I was able to endure the museum. It was amazing and loving and sweet and just a little Hope Diamond of perfection. I know she is sad about leaving her friends and everything she’s ever known on the other side of the country, but she’s ok here. She cares about me. She’s growing to trust me. She’s digging it.
Things aren’t bad at all. There is a time when they may get bad for us, but she does care and she knows I care. The random hug is better than words. There’s something about touch that is more meaningful, more intimate.
Life is good as long as there’s wine. 🙂