I had originally started this blog post with the words, "Most of the time, I think I'm just a big screw-up as a parent." but even as I was typing those words, I knew they weren't true.
I think the truth is that I probably get it right (or somewhat close to right) about 75% of the time. I smooch and hug on those kids like crazy. I'm constantly talking to them about what's really important in life. I apologize quickly and admit when I'm wrong. I say prayers with them every single night. I discipline them because I think discipline can be a good thing when it's used appropriately. I make homework a priority and not just because I want them to do good in school, but because I want them to learn obedience and self-discipline. I work hard on my marriage so they can see what a good marriage is supposed to look like. I think a lot about how to best handle situations and how to better handle them in the future. I try to be a good example by doing the right thing even when the right thing is hard. I teach them to stand up for other people who can't stand up for themselves. I try to let them learn life's lessons on their own rather than shielding them from them. And I try to instill the value of 'family' with traditions and love and respect and memories.
And I probably screw up about 25% of the time by being too busy with work, by overlooking something I should have addressed because I'm just too dang tired to address it or by losing my ever-loving-marbles and yelling at the top of my lungs over something I should have kept my cool over (and that's precisely when the fact that I'm quick to apologize and admit when I'm wrong comes in handy.)
And if this were baseball, I'd say my batting average was pretty good (but that I shouldnt miss any practices.)
But I think I did something really, really right with Annie the other day and I wanted to get it written down - and not so you all can pat me on the back and tell me what am amazing mom I am (I'm not.) but because I want Annie to be able to read it one day - heck, I want all of my kids to read it one day - and who knows, maybe you (or they) will find it useful too...
Annie lied the other day.
It was over something silly, but it was still a lie. And though I expect everyone in this house to mess up (myself included) I also expect honesty no matter how hard it is.
To me, there's nothing worse than lying (although Annie reminded me the other day that murder is actually worse than lying. Thank you for the reminder Yans.)
But I knew if I addressed it right then and there that the older kids were going to be late for school so I told her we'd talk about it later.
And that 'later' happened to be in the car while we were parked outside of her school when I reminded her of something I've already said to the kids a bazillion times...That you can't have a relationship without trust and because of that, lying slowly kills even the best of relationships.
But this time when I talked about it, her eyes began to well-up and she asked, "So you wouldn't love me anymore if I lied."
I immediately told her that I'd love her no matter what, but then I began to fumble over my words because I wasn't quite sure how to explain (in 6-year-old words) how a momma can love one of her kids, even if they don't have a close relationship with them - so I changed course all together and said:
"Ok Yans, close your eyes for a minute and pretend you're a full-grown woman and that you just walked out of the front door of your house and hopped in your car - and think hard, because I really want you to picture exactly what that would look like in your head."
And then she said, "But I don't know what I'm going to look like when I'm a grown-up."
And I said, "Open your eyes and look at me really quickly...This is what you're going to look like when you're a grown-up."
So she opened her eyes, giggled and then closed them again quickly.
And I went on, "And pretend that you're driving to my house (our current house) to pick me up for lunch and you're excited - really excited - because you've been busy at work lately and you haven't seen me in over a week and you feel like you have so much to tell me about what's happened in your life since the last time we were together.
And when you pull up in the drive-way, you notice that I'm already waiting out on the front porch for you, because I'm excited too and then we hug each other - but we hug for a really long time - because we don't want to stop hugging."
Annie was smiling at this point with her eyes still closed.
And then I go on to say, "And then we get in your car and you put your hand on my shoulder and you tell me that you you've missed me and then we drive to The Roadhouse for lunch and as the waitress brings us our rolls and honey butter, we immediately start laughing about how much you loved this place when you were a kid and how you used to sing to your dinner rolls as you buttered them."
And I just went on, explaining the whole day in detail and how good it felt to be together and when I came to the part where Annie was dropping me off back at home, she opened her eyes and interrupted to say, "But instead of taking you home, we decided to drive to the ocean and stay the night!" and I said, "Of course we did, because we had a really amazing relationship."
And then she said, "But what if I lie when I'm a grown-up?"
And I told her that we'd still go do stuff together, but on her drive to pick me up, instead of feeling excited, she might be feeling anxious because lies make you anxious and that when she met me on the front porch, we'd still hug, but she'd feel like there was a lie standing between us and because of that, the hug wouldn't feel as good. And we'd still laugh and talk over lunch, but we probably wouldn't share our deepest feelings, because the lies would make us feel like we couldn't.
I told her that it would just be different. That the lies would make it different. That it just couldn't be as good because of the lies.
And though I typically have a tough time knowing when to quit verbally beating a dead horse with life lessons, I knew I didn't need to say anything else, so I patted my leg, which was her cue to unbuckle her seatbelt and to crawl into the frontseat and onto my lap, where we just sat in silence and hugged each other probably longer than we've ever hugged (which is a really long time) just because it felt so good without any lies standing between us.