Well, hello there, Awkward Mom. It appears that you finished your book club books early. Or you are battling your arch-villain, Procrastination. I don't think I would lay odds on the former here....
I am sitting at a red light, looking into the rear view mirror, admiring my brood. They are sitting there, all in a row. OK, well, not quite in a row. My deep-seated paranoia that Baby Center is somehow monitoring my activity compels me to reassure you that Super Baby is still in a backwards-facing car seat and not rolling around loose next to her brothers. She is still visible though, thanks to a mirror attached to her headrest, and thus appears to be right there on the end, next to them. My point is that I can see them all together (a rare feat); so I sigh with contentment at the beauteous sight of all three of them lined up together, like angels perched on a cloud of cotton-candy and sugar-plum dreams, and I do what every other mother in creation does; I start to compare them.
Now, judge away, Readers. It is okay. I know that you are worried about Baby Center's spies too. But, I'll be brave and say it, "I compare my children to each other." And I know that you do the same thing. Maybe not out loud. Maybe not even on purpose. And certainly not all the time. But it happens; it is a dirty little lie of parenting, this "we never compare our children". Much like the "we always take a shower before we enter the pool" or "we never prefer one child over the other." (Holy ghost of Dr. Spock! Did she really say that?!) Yes, Readers, I said it; calm down already. You know that I don't mean the Joan-Crawford-kind of deranged preference, I am talking about kinda-sorta-maybe liking the one who isn't screaming at you, just slightly-sorta-a-little-bit better, for the moment in which the screaming takes place. Or maybe for the rest of that day. Or until the screaming one is asleep and being all angel-like again. Don't be afraid for the Supers, Readers. They will be fine. Or they will be rich (having written successful tell-alls). Either way, don't worry; I am totally cool with wire hangers.
But, preference doesn't really come into comparison right now. I am not actually preferring one of them over the other. They are all sleeping, all their little heads cocked to the left, identical blond hair waving in the wind. That is where the similarities end. Super Preschooler cuddles into a ball and furrows his brow at some dream. Super Toddler sprawls and moves every 2 seconds, not even still in sleep. And Super Baby snores and drools like the little lady that she is. They are totally unique and so beautiful, but instead of appreciating this, like every grandmother I run into at the grocery store and every Hallmark Mother's Day card in creation tells me to do, all I am doing is wondering how each one managed to get a completely complete, yet utterly different, set of my flaws.
Because that is the other dirty little lie about parenting, isn't it? Everyone goes on and on about how little Super inherited your eyes or hair or sense of humor, but no one thinks to wonder where the short temper, pear-shape, or worry-worting went. Now, let's not concern ourselves with the physical right now because there will be plenty of time for that in adolescence. I am talking about personality stuff. You know, important stuff. Friend-making stuff. Getting ahead in life stuff. Being a fully functioning and well-balanced member of society stuff. How are my children going to do that stuff when I am stuffing them full of awkward?
I'll be specific. Super Preschooler got my tendency toward worry, my sensitivity, and my perfectionism. Super Toddler has my quick temper and complete late of rationality when angry. And Super Baby might have my tendency to be an overly enthusiastic people-pleaser, but it is a little early to tell. Maybe she dodged the bullet and will only get my wide hips and freckles.
Now, before the pity starts to flow, they got a lot of good stuff too. That most of it came from Awkward Dad is something that we can just gloss right on over. I am in no way saying that my children are all bad or messed-up or causing me to lose sleep at night. OK, strike that last one. I am just concerned about these tendencies that I see in them. Tendencies that I have seen in myself for the last 34 years. And full disclosure here, we have encountered situations this week where these tendencies were on full display, so it feels timely.
Maybe you are a Prefect Mom. Not sure why are you reading this and not making a cake from scratch then, but you might be slumming. Then, of course, you wouldn't know what I am talking about, so I shall explain. When one is awkward, one tends to make mistakes. Mistakes that have a lovely tendency of showing up in one's children; more specifically, their behavior. Like that time the pitcher of orange juice fell off the counter, and Super Preschooler dropped the F-bomb, right before I did. Or that time that Super Toddler did a fine imitation of what Mommy sounds like when everyone is late for church, complete with foot stomping. Or when I hear my words coming out of their mouths; words that were rattled off in a moment of panic or stress or exhaustion. Words that, when applied in the cold light of day, glare with all the damage of a Joan Crawford upbringing.
Thank goodness that they got all those good qualities from Awkward Dad to counteract the lessons they are learning from me. Wow, Battle Royale going on with Self-Pity today! Oh Readers, don't you worry. (Unless, of course, your worry takes the form of chocolate bars; then, feel free to worry.) It has been a rough week and it is only Tuesday and I am sure that is where a lot of this self-pity is coming from.
But the thing is, I don't know how to stop making mistakes, Readers. How do you do it? How do you raise these little people so that they are smart without being arrogant. Kind without being doormats. Beautiful without being vain. Strong without being cruel. Organized without being inflexible. Thoughtful without being neurotic. Open without being spineless. Steady without being dull. Awkward without being awful. This all seems daunting enough, and then we add into the mix that I daily gift them with such clear examples of how not to do things.
By the way, I was in no way being rhetorical. How do you do it? You can send your advice, and your chocolate, to Awkward Manor, Ann Arbor, Michigan. I imagine that it will get here safely, don't you think?
We are gonna sit Awkward Mom down and make her read this. Interestingly, that post also took place the week that she had a book club meeting she was ill-prepared for. After she reads a little of her book, we are gonna make her look at this:
And then this: