Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Will I be a better parent than my own mom and dad?

Today I’ve been thinking a lot about my mother. It’s so funny that I came across an article with this title on msn.com tonight, before writing this blog entry. I think this is a question that many parents ask themselves.

I also read this quote by Isabel Allende again today.

“My mother is the longest love affair of my life.We have never cut the umbilical cord.” – Isabel Allende

I’ve been thinking about my mom and her qualities as well as her shortcomings. She was human so I shouldn’t have expected perfection. Now that I’m older, married, and I have children of my own I think I understand her a little better. I’ve learned more about her from my father. It’s as if he finally feels free to speak about her, now five years after she’s been gone. He’s told me stories I didn’t know. Stories that I’d rather not know and of course sometimes stories I feel are one-sided. But those are stories for another day.

I know she went through a period when she didn’t love my father any more. I try to imagine what that must have been like for her. I feel sad for her as if it’s happening now or as if I could have done something about it.

I think of my own daughter and how I’m trying so hard to be a different mother but then inevitably I slip back to something my mother would have said or done. Then it’s also so hard to separate what my mother did that was good discipline and what was just plain bad parenting.

One thing I have no memories of is playing with my mother. Maybe it was because I’m the youngest child and I had older sisters to do that with me. But something tells me that she still wouldn’t have even if I was one of her older children, born when she was young and full of more energy. I know she didn’t play with my sisters and they would probably laugh at the very idea. I think the most fun they had with her as children was an occasional visit to a theme park. Then there was her pregnancy with me that made her bedridden. They played board games with her then until they were sick of Monopoly.

I don’t want that for my children. I didn’t play as much with my daughter when she was a baby. First I was writing my thesis when she was very small and somehow my husband became the one who played with her. Now that I have two children I have started to play and I love it.

Almost every night we tumble on the bed and play “cave adventure,” a game my husband started with my daughter. We get under the blankets and I hold them high with my leg and arm and we have our own little cave. Miranda cracks up and even the baby gets all excited and jumps up and down. Sometimes Miranda pretends to be a visitor and knocks on my door and I invite them in. Sometimes Rey is the monster that comes to scare us. To see the look of excited terror and laughter on their faces is priceless.

When I’m really tired I just lie on the bed and doze while Miranda and Seth play, Miranda jumping and the baby crawling to the headboard, pulling himself up, and bouncing up and down on his chubby legs. I open one eye to make sure they’re playing safe and they are just happy that I’m there with them.

So when I think of traveling away from my kids I think of nights like this that I’ll miss. My babies will never be 4 and 1 again.

I think of women that want “me time” and don’t get me wrong, I also have those moments when I want to scream, “Calgon! Take me away!” but I already had thirty years of “me time.” I did the parties, the football games, and the dances growing up. Then the dance clubs, the bars, trips overseas riding a train across Europe and dancing til 7 a.m.

I love the laughter of my daughter and her hilarious comments. When asked why she said a certain not-so-nice thing she replied, “I don’t know. Sometimes I get so confused in my head.” I crack up!

My son Seth and the sight of him learning to take his first steps and pushing himself around in a Tiny Tikes car, when he can’t even walk yet. I can’t miss that. I can’t miss this precious time.

So thank you Mama, for teaching me what kind of mother I want to be. A mother that laughs and plays with her kids, as well as disciplines. A mother that’s there for her children.

I hope my children quote Isabel Allende when I’m old. I hope they remember “cave adventures.”

1 comment:

mary said...

I love your Isabel Allende quote about her mother being her longest love affair, never cutting the umbilical cord. Do you, by chance, remember where you read this?