The Little Things Really Do Matter The Most
As a parent, we all have those moments where we wonder if we are doing things the right way or if we are royally messing up the minds of an innocent life-form. There is no parent out there who has never thought to themselves, “I should have done that differently.” There are also those moments, regardless of how large or small they may be, that seem to scream, “Hey you! You may actually be doing this whole parenting thing right after all.” Last night, I had one of those moments that defined my parenting skills for me and showed me both sides of doing it all wrong, and doing it right at the same time. We’ll get to that moment shortly, first, I’m going to ramble about senseless things for a while.
I was sitting at my desk working as I had been for several hours and as I do every single day of the week just so I can make sure I can pay the bills, take the kids places they want to go and afford to buy them the things they want. These things include Christmas gifts every year, and the kids always make me a Christmas Wish List of things they want. Always. The list is always filled with major electronics, super expensive things that they don’t usually ask for, trivial things that I have never even heard of and then, the normal things that I expect including toys they ask for every year and then forget them, break them or give them away. They even ask for clothing, which shocks me at times.
My nine-year old has already emailed her first of probably five or more short notes to Santa this year and asked for a motorcycle (a kid sized one), more American Girl doll clothes and a ton (yes, she wrote ton!) of a certain stores clothing (The store name starts with a J!) that is geared towards young girls. All my parent friends know the store I’m talking about and if you don’t, then you either have girls that are too young to yet demand where to shop for their clothing, your girl is not into fashion or she luckily does not care where her clothes are from, you have boys or your kids are so old that you luckily escaped this store altogether. I am jealous of all of you by the way!
My poor child will be sadly disappointed this year because I am boycotting this store after the last time I mistakenly walked in that store with the nine-year old fashionista in tow and walked out with tears forming in my very soul at the sound of the cashier telling me how much everything was. When you spend several hundred dollars on a nine-year old’s clothing and you realize that she walked out with one pair of ugly sparkly black ankle boots, enough clothing to wear for only a couple of days and a small notebook with her initial on it, you decide to boycott the store in hopes that she will enjoy clothing from another store at the mall instead. With what I spent that last shopping trip with the 9-year old, I could have clothed and fed an entire village for a week and possibly clothed them all as well.
My teen son on the other hand, cannot stand shopping for clothes and running into American Eagle, Aeropostale and JC Penney’s with him is usually a pretty painless thing to do. He does enjoy going to Hot Topix and having me buy him t-shirts with his favorite musicians on them, and that is just fine with me. After all, the last time we went shopping I grabbed a couple t-shirts for myself including a Guns N Roses shirt and a Led Zeppelin shirt that reminded me of what I wore when I was 16. My 16-year-old self that is now deeply buried inside of my 45-year-old self will of course never wear these shirts unless I’m out on a hike in the woods or I’m sleeping, but hey, I bought them for me and they made me feel young again for a brief thirty seconds. The young again feeling ended when I reached the counter to pay for the load of shirts we had between the two of us that day. It’s incredible how expensive cheap t-shirts cost now! Not cheap at all and I do not consider two t-shirts for thirty bucks a good deal at all. It isn’t that I’m cheap, but I know the value of a product and those glam t’s are not worth the price tag when they fade fast and shrink heavily.
The only thing my teen son has asked for that I genuinely laughed about was the time he asked me if I could buy him a pair of Yeezy shoes that had a price tag of a little over $3,000. I’m sure he was kidding, but I still had to explain that with the way he ran through shoes, paying the prices that I already pay for his size 14 shoes was far more than enough. It is, by the way, not easy to find a size 14 that he will wear in any shoe brand at all.
Let’s go back to last night now that I’ve rambled a little about things that have zero relevance to what I’m writing today. Last night, I was working and paying attention to the screen in front of my more than I was to my nine-year-old doing backbends and summersaults through her “gym room” AKA the living room that has been emptied so the floors could be refinished. My teen was hanging out in his room playing video games and annoying me every ten minutes to tell me the Wi-Fi dropped and to insist that I stop working and reset it, over and over. I am fortunate enough to work from my own home office where I can spend time with the kids and be more involved in their lives. No, I’m not a “stay at home mom” although yes, I do stay at home to work. This was a great choice for me as I no longer report to an overbearing boss, punch a time clock or worry about being late to the office. On the other side, I usually stop working every ten minutes once the kids are home from school and on weekends to reset the Wi-Fi, discourage a sibling argument, watch cartwheels and dance moves and cook. The kids know that I work from the home office now yet they never seem to understand that if I am typing, my brain needs peace and quiet so I can think. I always have this fear that I’ll be in the middle of writing something important for a client and buried somewhere in the middle of their requested content will include the words, “Stop fighting! Be quiet! I’m trying to work!”
I told the kids last night that I needed them to make their Christmas Wish List. The “official” list that I would use to know what they wanted this year. This list is almost mandatory for me every year because although they each may mention things they want; I never know the things they want the most without the list. My nine-year-old immediately stopped spinning in circles in the emptied living room and she sat down to make the list of all lists. I knew it would include things that would be immediately eliminated by me within seconds of her writing the list. These things usually, every year, include, animals that are alive, gifts that range in the Kardashians budget but not in my own and gifts that she already has yet never plays with.
She worked on her list for all of five minutes and then handed it to me, in a sealed envelope as if it were the winning lotto numbers and needed secrecy. Starting at the top, she had, of course included the clothing from the store we shall never enter again unless I go completely insane. Fur Real toys, American Girl doll clothes and money! She had money on her list not once, not twice, but three times in a row. Apparently, she is at the age where money matters. She also asked for a trip to Build-A-Bear and thankfully for me, the local Build-A-Bear closed and I can honestly tell her there isn’t one near us anymore. She asked me to not replace the living room furniture and to just buy her gymnastics mats to cover the entire floor, a bar to hang on the wall for dance and other dance and gymnastics stuff. Because I don’t want to ship for new living room furniture anytime soon, she may just be on to something with changing the living room into a gym. Okay, not really, but it would sure beat having her bounce all over the furniture from one room to the next.
At this point, I noticed that it was just a couple minutes away from midnight. I was chatting online with a good friend in Florida and suddenly felt like the world’s worst mom for not noticing how late it was. My house was nearly shaking from the gymnastics performance the nine-year-old was working on in the other end of the house and my teen had the television in his room turned up far louder than I approve of. I was just starting to yell for them both that it was way past bedtime when my son walked into my room and sat down to talk.
He was so busy playing his video game that he never bothered to grab a pen and write anything down on his Christmas list. I told him I needed to know what he wanted for Christmas and he needed to write his list as he always has. Due to the late hour, I told him he could wait until the next day to write it. He told me he couldn’t think of anything that he needed. At this point, I reminded him that it was a Christmas list and he needed to tell me the things he wanted, not what he needed. This is where my teen son shocked me, made me proud and made me feel like I may be doing this whole mom thing the right way after all. He looked at me and said, “Mom, I have everything I need and everything that want and I honestly cannot think of anything that I would want that I don’t already have because you’ve already bought me everything and always make sure we have what we need.”
Instantly, the noisy world went silent. The fact that it was three minutes after midnight and my nine-year-old was still doing flips in the living room no longer mattered quite as much as it had just a mere thirty seconds before. My teen son completely defined my parenting skills with one simple sentence. He and I argue almost daily now that he is a teen, and I often wonder where I went wrong as a parent. All of that worry went out the window last night. He has everything he needs and wants, and this is because I am his mom.
Those moments that define parenthood may be small, or they may be a loud awakening as my son’s words were to me. No matter what form they come as, take the time to enjoy them and more importantly, take the time to walk away from work and the demands of life so you can enjoy the laughter of your children while they are young. Take time to talk to them and even to fuss at them when they are wrong. Admit your mistakes but show your kids that you have strength and determination. Don’t let failure get you down, instead, let it help you rise farther than you may have been before. Nothing in life is promised, but the love you have for your children is something that matters to them, even when you may not realize just how important you truly are in their lives.