Yesterday, my husband and I took the children to their great-grandmother’s funeral. As funerals go, this one was a marathon which reflected the marathon 102-year life she lived. My daughter insisted on wearing her pink Easter dress and was a bright spot in the sea of somber clothes. Afterward, she wanted to see her great-grandma lying in the white casket. My daughter gazed at her great-grandma for a long time. A spray of spectacular flowers sat on the closed part of the casket while my grandmother lay in repose looking surprisingly well considering she was 102 years old and lifeless.
Also, I noticed she wore coral lipstick, which was the only time I’ve ever seen lipstick on her. That shade did not suit her at all, but what did they know? They should have gone with something that had plum undertones.
Grandma wore a pink Easter dress that my mother picked out. My mother’s face reflected her terrible grief. At the age of 65, my mother has become motherless.
My boys dressed in their best clothes and didn’t complain about going to the funeral. They sat quietly, even though the service dragged on for ninety minutes. (Four speakers, a choir, a soloist, congregational singing and a Powerpoint presentation.) My daughter declared it the “most boring” thing ever, but she also behaved well. She and my 10-year old both wanted to view Grandma after the service while the twins chose to go immediately to the lobby instead.
So, yesterday was a long, emotionally draining day. Before and after the funeral, I worked, finally finishing my shift at 10 p.m.
* * *
This blog is not a comprehensive dissertation about my life as a mother. Believe it or not, I leave out large chunks, including most of my life prior to my blog. You don’t know about how we adopted our twins, nor about how we parented them when they were young. I am not at liberty to share much of my life since my life is intertwined with the private lives of other people, just like yours. I cannot tell you much about my childhood in deference to others.
On occasion, I pull back the curtain and reveal some shameful truth about my failures as a parent and about my children’s perception of me as their mother. It’s risky, but I choose to share snapshots from time to time. I want to remember these moments–especially the ugly moments because in memory, these will be the brightest days of my life. Selective memory has a way of blotting out the blemishes and mistakes we make. (And I love the way most of you support me and make me feel not alone.)
So, when I post something here that is unflattering to me (usually) and my children (on occasion, though they are not completely identifiable), I am already fully aware that we are imperfect. I consider my own flaws in the glaring spotlight of self-flagellation and when other people turn their flashlights upon the dark corners of my soul, they’ll find nothing that I have not already illumined and examined with a microscope. I know how I am failing as a mother. I know the errors I’ve made. I know my personality and how my personality clashes with other personalities in my household. I can catalog the many ways I’ve failed my children as a mother, a role-model and as a person.
I’m pretty sure that I’m not an inhuman monster and my son told me the next day, “I overreacted. But you should be easier on my brother.” My other son apologized repeatedly for his behavior on the day in question. However, my children see me only from their teenage perspective, just as I only saw my parents from that angle when I was their age. I thought my dad was much too strict with me. I did not understand. I judged him with teenage harshness. I think that’s part of growing up, of separating.
So my children judge me, too. They’ll understand more when they are older. I hope they will grow to understand me as a human being. I hope they will forgive me for the mistakes I make. I allow them to speak freely to me, probably because I was muzzled as a child, unable to ever address my parents honestly. I was much too scared to tell them how I felt about anything they did or said. We did not talk in our family. When I was home, I went to my bedroom and locked my door.
My children are living in a different type of household and even though I do not relish backtalk, I’d rather have my kids argue with me than shove their thoughts deep inside to fester. I spend almost every moment of every day at home with my kids. My boys have been doing school-at-home for four years and I don’t think that longing for a regular period of kid-free time every week is a failure. In fact, if you’re an introvert like me and being with people drains you, you know well that unless you have solitude, you will wilt like a plant without water.
And don’t even get me started on the nature versus nurture conundrum. (Hint: Nature wins.)
I do consider every comment I receive here, especially the ones that sting. I try not to be defensive, because there is often truth even in the hurtful things people say. So, please, continue to share your thoughts but do remember that you don’t have the whole picture, all the facts nor a complete understanding of my private life. Such is the nature of blogs.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Edited to add: This is not in response to any of the published comments on the last entry. So do not fret.
15 thoughts on “I have a lot to say for a Saturday”
hi mel – i am glad the funeral went well and it honored the life of your grandma. i am sorry about your loss!
hopefully we’ll see you tomorrow.
Aaagh – I’m trying to remember what I commented on your posts – whatever it was, it wasn’t meant to be critical. I joke about dealing with teens all the time (if you read my blog, you may be aware of that). Every family is individual and different things work for each one. Believe me, I know how hard it is.
You homeschool? I can’t remember reading that here before this post…but you’re right – if you don’t carve out pockets of time for yourself, you could go crazy – at least, I could.
Just checked those comments – they all look super supportive on the teenager post (at least, I feel a lot better after reading them) – did you delete the nasties? Good for you!
You used conundrum much better than me.
I give you the last clap.
Oh I hate those kind of comments and Lord knows I get my share of them! There is no way people know what happens by reading our blogs. Life is too full and a blog is too full of gaps.
OH well everyone needs a good spring troll!
Oh, Mel, what a sucky time- both the funeral and ugly commenters,. Hang in there.
I’m sorry people are leaving nasty comments. I think you are brave for putting it “out there”. It is hard to home school, to never be alone, to run an open house where kids can express themselves. It’s also immensely satisfying. I think you do a great job showing the balance.
I let my kids argue with me for the same reasons. My husband isn’t crazy about it, but as long as they do it respectfully, I figure we are all learning something. And you know what? My oldest just had an argument with his girlfriend’s mom. She needed to hear what he had to say, and she has changed her behavior a bit, plus she now knows she can’t push him around. If he hadn’t had all those years of practice, he never would have had the guts to argue with her. It took me being married twenty years before I stood up to my mother-in-law.
So anyway, I appreciate the glimpses you allow us into your personal life, and applaud your parenting. And I’ll also say, hang in there- they do leave and become responsible members of society.
One reason I love reading your blog is that you don’t pretend to be a perfect mom or have perfect children. While you do only give us a glimpse of the inner-workings of your world, that glimpse is an honest reflection of who you all are. Your willingness to allow your children to “say what they need to say” only gives me more respect for you.
I agree with Elizabeth (above). I am afraid of the mom’s who DO pretend to have it all together and do ANYTHING for the appearance of looking perfect!! I’m not perfect, my kids aren’t perfect and quite frankly it’s nice to hear of another family that is not putting up a sickly sweet perfect facade!!!
THANKS for letting us in and being vulnerable! Keep being real!
So true…even those who are close to us only know snapshots. Thank you for the reminder to take into perspective the WHOLE picture.
You go girl!
i am the mom to four adopted children, all very close in age, and very young….2,3,4,5…..I get overwhelmed somedays thinking my lifeis crazy, and then someone reminds me that they will all be teenagers…..AT THE SAME TIME! So, i totall appreciate your candor, honesty (I think those are the same things) and you willingness to open the curtain on occassion and give us the glimpses. It encourages me that there are others that sometimes feel that they don’t have it all together all the time.
Heather – regular reader, mostly lurker.
I think I’m the only ‘oldster’…at least one of a small number…who comments on your site, Mel. My comments are coming from the perspective you’re hoping to arrive at some day, where the kids are grown, you weathered the storms, savored the sweet moments. And, believe me, I had my hair-pulling, let-me-OUTTA-here!!! moments myself. I think what I’m trying to bring across to you in what I have to say is that it all seems to work out in the end, that there is light at the end of the tunnel. On those days when we feel we’re the worst mothers in the world, that our kids are destined for a future in the state penetentiary…those moments actually account for such a small percentage of what ‘real life’ was in the growing-up years, they hardly amount to a blip on the radar screen. As for blogging, what you say here is soooooo, so true. I put a lot ‘out there’ for my reading audience to share with me, but there is so MUCH more that never gets said. If people would only read what’s written and not try to read what they THINK is between the lines, it’d be a lot easier on us bloggers, wouldn’t it? And it sounds, from what you wrote here, you and I had a lot of similar types of experiences growing up. I was terrified of rocking the boat…I was the nurturer, the Nurse Nancy, who took it upon herself to ‘fix’ everything, or try to. At 13 I was the confidante of both parents…sexual dysfunctions, rip-snorting fights, whatever…nothing was left out of the telling. A huge burden for 13 year old shoulders to bear, and it continued on ’til they died. So that’s why honesty, respect, integrity, KINDNESS, has been such a huge part of what I’ve tried to instill in my kids. Most of all, just letting them know that, no matter what, I love them.
Having two grown children myself, I can understand your situation. Allowing them to express what they need to, will make a difference in the future. My children were allowed to express their opinions, (as long as they were halfway respectful) and now they are very comfortable telling me the truth about how they feel. I wouldn’t want them to think they had to hide their true selves from Mom now. So, I salute you! It’s hard while you are going through it, but it will pay off later!
So sorry for the loss of your grandmother.
Raising children, especially teenagers, is not for sissies. I put bits and pieces of my life out on my blog(s), but a lot I keep to myself simply because it’s not something I would necessarily discuss with a room full of people in “real life”. I’m sure we’ll survive this part of parenting!