Monday, January 9, 2012

Actual Joys of Parenting

Most of my public comments about my children are bitter and sarcastic.  You'd probably think that I didn't really care for the whole motherhood thing if you knew me only by my Facebook posts.  To be honest, a lot of it really isn't a thrill--the laundry that's never done, the picking up that never lasts, the special hell of shopping with my kids.  And don't even get me started on the fighting.

For some reason, it's more fun to share the pain of motherhood rather than the joy.  For one, the negative moments are the ones that create my need to vent to friends.  When I'm really at the end of my rope and close to selling the kids to any passing gypsies, it's nice to hear from other parents that I am not alone in these thoughts.  Somehow, it makes me feel less evil.  Of course, if properly delivered, the negative moments also are a lot funnier than the positive ones.  How will I get a chuckle out of my friends by telling them how sweet and wonderful my kids are?  But that poem my son wrote about the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad lunch I packed a few weeks ago?  Now that's funny (and didn't require a bit of creativity on my part).

Of course, there are golden moments in parenthood, and I don't just mean the long-haul view that I'm trying to make successful humans who not only won't pee on the floor but will be respectful of others, financially support themselves, and find happy relationships that fulfill them.  No, there are those little nuggets that make me stop and revel in the joy of parenting.  Lately, I've noticed that the best of them fall into two categories.

Category one are those rare times when the kids are getting along, playing nicely, and acting like the idealized siblings this only child conjured in her mind when she decided to try for a second child.  Older brother patiently teaching younger sister to build Lego Bionicles, encouraging her and applauding her success.  Or telling her how to spell a word.  Making up a game only they understand.   Giggling.  Mostly it's the giggling that gets me.  In those moments, I envy them their sibling-hood and desperately hope that those are the moments that will prevail into adulthood, when they can text each other about their crazy mother and share a collective eye roll.

Category one I expected.  Category two has been the most pleasant surprise.  It is the special joy I get from my kids' loving the things I love.  Sometimes my son, who greatly favors his dad in looks and temperament, is a bit of a mystery to me.  But he loves books and libraries like I do, and we are both happy as can be to eat lunch together without talking, each reading our books.  I could spend all day talking to him about Harry Potter books, loved when he recommended Percy Jackson to me, and cannot wait for him to read A Wrinkle in Time.

With my daughter, our shared love is music.  I've aged out of being the only person dancing in a crowd, but I love she has not and remember when I used to be that little girl.  I get a special little thrill out of the backseat iPod dictator demanding that I play Johnny Cash or her singing every word to The Sound of Music. Like her mother, significant parts of her clever little brain are already wasted on a vast array of song lyrics.

Maybe I'm constantly seeking my own characteristics in my children, and that's why I love these particular moments.  I cannot relate to the creative side of my son, who works out his problems by drawing pictures and writing poems.  I'm even farther afield from my little princess, who always has a matching headband for every outfit (including pajamas) and loves nothing more than "being fancy."  Maybe it's just that, like with a good friend, it is fun to have shared meaningful interests to discuss, raising our conversation above my nagging them to get dressed, clean up, sit still, and try new foods.  My kids and I are constantly developing our relationships with each other, and these are the moments that make me slow down and take notice.

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