Sunday, June 9, 2013

An Open Letter to My Sons' Future Roommates, Significant Others and/or Spouses

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
                                                        ― Benjamin Franklin

Dear Future Loved Ones,

First of all, you HAVE to know that there is only so much a mother can do.  People are just...wired...the way they come.  I've learned that genetics has a huge role to play, so you might want to look at their grandparents.  Or even their great grandparents.  The blame does rest somewhere, but hopefully, it doesn't rest with me.

You may not believe this, but before Thing 1 was born, I was determined to parent intentionally.  I decided that I would read the books and do the research and be fully involved in raising human beings who were nice.  And fairly normal.  And equipped to deal with life's trials.  I wanted them to be people that YOU could live with and maybe even ENJOY living with.  So, I set out to parent them with my own limited skill set and negligible natural nurturing ability.

This weekend, we went over the magical uses of bleach in cleaning.  If they are trying to tell you that they don't know HOW to scrub a toilet, please hand them a clean soft cloth and point them in the direction of the bathroom.  They know how.  They've done a LOT of toilet scrubbing even if they won't admit it.

But there are other things I'm teaching them, too.  And, believe it or not, I do much of this with YOU in mind, Future Loved Ones.  See, I don't want you to hate me.  I really just want you to give me the Gold Star of Parenting.  Can you do that, Future Loved One?  I really just want you to LIKE ME.

So, here are a few of the things I'm doing now with you in mind (you can thank me later or at least ensure that I wind up in a nursing home without the really LARGE cockroaches):

  1. I teach them about conflict.  We discuss that you simply can't have relationships...ANY relationships...without conflict.  AND, conflict is resolved through intentional communication.  We use feeling words in my house.  For example, "I felt annoyed when you sat on my head while I was playing that video game."  We discuss our actions.  "I sat on your head was THERE."  And we discuss the resolution. "I wanted to hit you when you sat on my head, but instead, I discussed my feelings with you.  I'd appreciate it if you never again sit on my head."  Naturally, sometimes I arrive in the middle of a conflict when fists are already flying, but I pull them apart and we go over the communication thing again.  
  2. I teach them about kindness and caring.  We don't kill bugs in my house.  (OK, we DO kill those tiny little microscopic ants that seem to invade the house every spring...but I simply can't count those things as living creatures.)  We trap spiders and take them outdoors.  We try to rescue the animals that our homicidal cat, Charlie, brings in through the cat door.  We respect all creatures, great and small.  If you ask one of my kids to kill a bug, they will get a water glass instead to escort the bug out of doors.  Especially if it's Waterford glass (that's totally an inside joke that I'm not going to explain here...lends an air of mystery, doesn't it?) 
  3. I teach them about relationships.  Everything they learn NOT to do, they learn from me.  Their mother is a complete disaster when it comes to relationships...ALL they've learned what NOT to do from the master.  Besides, we also have episodes of the Gilmore Girls playing continually in the background.  If you can't learn how to treat people from 42 minutes of a television dramedy, then you simply aren't paying attention.
  4. I teach them about life's little frustrations.  You cannot grow up with me as a mother without experiencing a myriad of hiccups and bumps along the way.  I am, to put it mildly, a maddening human being.  They've grown up with me.  They fully expect people to break out into song and/or dance and to call them anything but their own names (e.g., Frito Lay, Thing 1, Thing 2, Dr. Pepper, Tinky-Winkys, Monkeys, Pepsi, Chirruns, etc.).  If they can live with me, they can live with ANYONE. 
  5. I teach them that, above all, coffee is the most important thing in life.  You probably think I'm joking.  I'm not. Thing 1 is going to be a fabulous coffee drinker.  He won't be the "bring you coffee in bed" type because he's in a veritable coma in the morning.  But he will appreciate it when YOU bring HIM coffee in bed.  Thing 2 is going to be the "make you breakfast and bring you coffee in bed" type.  You're welcome.
Future Loved Ones, I know that my kids are easy to love.  They're cute and smart and funny.  They have quirks, yes, but I think they're good human beings.  They've been recycling I don't even know how long.  And deforestation drives them nuts.  They are usually kind but they enjoy America's Funniest Home videos tremendously so they obviously have a little bit of edge to them.

Be nice to my hoodlums, Future Loved Ones.  Their tiny little hearts were broken by divorce and I'm sure that's going to come into play.  Just remember that those wounds CAN heal with time and patience.  We're doing the best we can to keep them whole and feeling secure.   They might be scared of commitment or they may even believe it isn't possible...but I know that, if you're really RIGHT for each other, you can make things work.

Try to overlook me, if you can.  I am impossible to get along with and as long as you understand that from the beginning, we'll work through things.  I'll keep my nose out of your business and offer advice and my company only when asked.  I do look forward to meeting you someday.

Until then, Future Loved Ones, guard your own hearts.  Keep yourselves safe and as unwounded as possible.  Life scars us all, I understand, but I hope that your scars will be only on the surface and few and far between.  Regardless of your scars and your quirks, though, we will love you the best way we know how.  As a matter of fact, we love you already.  

With much love,
Your future Second (or Third or Fourth) Mother

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