Monday, February 22, 2010

Ch. 3, Life on Planet Mom

This chapter's Title...I kid you not.

My Family Tree is Suddenly a Forest

Yeah, this one applies to me. I think this one strikes a little close to home.

1. Talk about your Mom and name at least one positive aspect of her parenting you admire. (Keep this short and sweet; second, related question below.) There are lots of things I think my Mom did well. She respected us as women, and let us Think. She taught us to do many different things so that we were pretty self-sufficient that I will continue. Eric wasn't too hot at sewing on a button, do his own laundry. But both of us learned how to Cook, which can be rare for boys. For me, I didn't have to have that many rules, but the few we had were important: The Golden Rule!-Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You, Do Not Lie, Obey your elders, and our mealtime rules-Try a bite of everything on your plate before you're excused, Clean your plate if you want dessert. (Those are fresh in my head because we've been Finally having decent luck with them with Christopher!)

2. What are the "movie clips" you wish to integrate into your own children's "emotional/mental movies"--the positive things you gained from your parents? My parents were always very vocal with their affection, I KNEW they loved me. My boys will know that too, loads of hugs and kisses, and hearing the words, to them, and between Eric and I, and among all those we love. I always remember holidays around our house, my family always made them special, and they will be around here too. Some of my favorite memories were when we used to go on Vacations together, road trips to visit our family (in Memphis and D.C.) but we always made those family trips fun with visiting Museums, Zoos, and historic places. We went somewhere about every year, (now I'm older I find this isn't as normal for others as it was to us) only a couple times we didn't visit family, but just as nifty. I also remember lots of laughter; with both sides we used to play a lot of card games, and laugh, we had such fun. I want the boys' memories to be filled with lots of love and laughter.

3. Has your relationship with a parent ever interfered with your relationship with your husband, as it did for Stephanie in our fiction introduction to this chapter? Stephanie was so close to her Mom that her husband left, because Mom was there All The Time, and she had to try to tell her mother to leave so they could work on their marriage. No...not to the stories' extreme. If anything, it was my fault. When we first got married, I would run to my mom at the first sign of trouble. And back in those days, my Mother in law drove me crazy, I was not used to a parent who micro-managed, and she wasn't used to us being self-sufficient. It made for a bit of a bumpy start. But we moved to LA and things were much different, much better, Eric and I learned to rely on each other. Things got so much better with my mother in law! I was tight with my mom, but not too tight until Chris was born. Then in an effort to let Eric to do MBA work, we would go stay with my Mom. We apparently overstayed our welcome, and our relationship became Strained.

4. How has becoming a parent brought your extended family closer? (parents or siblings or both) I became closer to my inlaws. They LEAPT at the opportunity to help us in any way they could. At first it was helping us with doctor's appointments, or shopping for us, playing with him for just a bit while Mommy napped, or taking care of the house/dog while we were in Hospital. Once Chris got older, they offered to have him come over and play, slumber parties so Eric and I could get a break. They go out of their way to help us. I was even surprised at how my Dad has helped out too. Seeing our parents love on our kids, see them all laugh and smile together makes me So HAPPY! I find myself closer to my sister, too, now that she's got a daughter (and 3/4), we are on the same page about so many things, moreso than we've been in years.

5. What has been the most challenging relationship within your extended family since you became a parent? Wow. This is the Whammy. I'm torn between the relationship with my mother and grandmother. Both have gone downhill fast since I became a parent. With my Grandmother, there were some behaviors that I endured when I was young, that I simply was not going to Stand By and let it happen when I saw it happening with Chris. So she has not met Sam. And my Mother, well, like I said, it was Strained with Mommy before I told Grandma Chris wasn't going to 'bother her ever again', then the rubber band snapped. But now my mother is mad at me, not speaking to me, for that and for my close relationship with my inlaws she won't forgive me either. That's a Challenge.

6. How important is it that your children know their grandparents? What is special about that relationship? It is Important. Our parents can share stories about us when we were little, and give them insight into an entirely different generation. And you can never have too many people love your baby.

7. How do your parents interact with your children? Do they ever do anything that bugs you? (I swear I'm not making these questions up.) Our parents are great with the kids. They are their favorite toys. Both their Grandpa and Opa don't mind having boys crawl all over them, tickling and laughter ensue. My MIL leaps in to do anything the kids need or want, no matter how exhausting that may be. My mother likes to play, but none of the work. Because Chris was the 3rd grandchild, the inlaws home was already childproof and had toys readily available. But on my side, neither house was childproof, and Chris would get yelled at anytime he went for the "pretties". It bugged me that they would yell at him, but not put their things higher. That has changed with the second grandchild at my Dad's, they even got a toybin full of goodies for the kids. Out of generosity, our family has bought big (in size) presents for the kids without checking with us, and we simply don't have room for them. That is frustrating, because I love that they want to spoil the boys, but we just can't have giant slides in the living room.

8. How do you stay connected with your extended family? If you have separated yourself on purpose, how are you involving others (friends or neighbors) in your child's life? Blogging! But I also Facebook, or email. I rarely make phone calls, but we use all of the above to set up visits in person. But we do try to visit some relative at least monthly.

*One of the suggestions this chapter had was that if your children's grandparents aren't close (either physically or emotionally) to try and find others, older friends or neighbors to help bridge that gap and give that boost to the kids from that age group. I'm Super Blessed that we've got so many relatives in town, I don't Have to do that, but I think it's a great idea to do so!

**One of my favorite quotes from this chapter: "We can choose to avoid difficult or uncomfortable circumstances almost anywhere in our lives...but it's harder to leave our families...maybe God designed it that way for a purpose;...we love them, so we give them second and third chances and endure irritating tendencies, concentrating on the greater good in the picture. This, in essence, is Grace in Action." I like it. I don't always do it. I'm one that backs out of difficult situations, ignores problems, doesn't talk about it among the family (on the internet sure!, but not with those that have hurt me), so I'm going to have to really work on this one.


Your ickypickysister :) said...

Don't worry, I ain't gonna touch the whole family drama thing :) but re: #7 - people who do not have children should not have to child-proof their homes. Yes, our family has gotten better the more children you and I have, but that is a favor they are doing for us and for the kids, and doing that and stocking toys etc. when they don't have children (or even children over very often) is a courtesy, not a requirement. I also seem to remember YOU chastising Chris about touching "pretties" more, not our parents (c'mon, dad and MB never yell anyway). You might get mad at me for pointing it out, but MB always REPLACES what our kids touch with something they CAN play with while she takes away the other object, and expecting others to change their entire homes for our rare visits is a bit ridiculous. Anyway, how are our kids going to learn how to behave if we don't TEACH them? We can't keep them in padded rooms forever - they NEED to be exposed to these different environments as a learning experience, otherwise they are going to grow up thinking that ALL their environments must cater to THEM. We speak quietly in libraries and we don't sit nicely at the table, so why should we not have places where some things are for playing with and some are not? I know it bugs you, but it's also presumptuous to assume it would be any other way. But this is one of those divergences you talked about where on some things we agree, and some we don't. :)

me again said...

Uhm, I meant to put "DON'T WE sit nicely at the table," not "WE DON'T sit nicely at the table!" Teehee! Hey there are some days where we really DON'T sit nicely at the table, but that's not what I meant there. :)

Cathy said...

It's something that Bugs me. It's why I don't / didn't stay at Mom's house long once Chris became mobile. Definitely more Mom than Dad and MB. And Yes, of course I acknowledge I was yelling at him, it's my Job. I didn't Stop visiting for it, it was just not comfortable to do so, so our visits were Short. Exactly, expose him to the environment, and just about the time he starts getting crazy and I start losing my temper, get him out of there. I Still do that.