Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Mama Didn't Teach Me

As a parent now, I recognize that my mom worked hard to teach me the things she felt were important for me to know about life. I do the same with the wee ones, and I can only hope that my lessons will allow them to develop into happy and confident people.

However, some of the things I learned along the way - unintentionally or not - I've since learned aren't the secret to a happy life. I've redefined a few things, and it seems to be working for me.

Without further ado - the top 10 rules I've unlearned:

10) Sitting too close to the tv won't harm my vision. Granted, I'm not one to sit three feet away anyway, but this is no longer something that gives me heart palpitations for fear that I'm causing irrepable damage.

9) It's never too late to say you're sorry. Growing up, we avoided conflict. It was much easier to pretend something didn't happen rather than deal with it and move on. I'm finding it far more effective to deal with the issues and have a clean slate.

7) Planning doesn't solve everything. My mom is the most organized person ever. She is the reason I had my calendar color coded based on activity in college to keep everything straight. But now? Well, when I have plans with eleven women to go to dinner tomorrow night, I expect that several will drop out. The fact that I'm down to six now and may not be able to reduce the reservation by that much? Eh. I'll survive. There's only so much I can control after all.

6) The phrase you can never be too rich or too thin is bunk. I can't tell you how often my mom repeated that to me, and wow, looking at it now is that unhealthy. But hey, I'm not thin and I'm not rich, but I'm pretty darn happy with my life thankyouverymuch.

5) Sometimes, it's ok to sit down. My mom was in perpetual motion. She had bridge or was driving us to or from an activity or was taking a neighbor somewhere and the like. While I do sometimes follow the same route of overcommitting myself, I'm learning to say no and to take some time to relax just for me. And I think that is making me a happier mom and person.

4) You don't have to be the nicest. Back to the theme of saying no, my mom volunteered for everything. She sought out situations to help people - people she knew, friends of friends, and more. She currently drives her 97 year old bridge partner to bridge each week. She got suckered into watching her neighbor's dog almost every weekend for three yearrs although they rarely even said thank you. Me? I'm ok if not everyone likes me. Having the most friends doesn't win you the race in the end. That isn't to say that I'm (purposefully) rude or mean to people, but I set limits. And if people don't like them, deal.

3) Falling down is ok. My mom still freaks when one of the wee ones falls or otherwise gets hurt. She hovers, and it freaks them out. I'm busy trying to foster independence and a sense of competence. My rule right now is "no blood, no foul" and it's working. I think.

2) Sometimes, you need to take a step back ignore the stereotypes. If I did, I wouldn't have sent the wee ones to the excellent preschool I did. I wouldn't have some of the wonderful friends I do now. My mom is way different from her parents, but there are still prejudices she holds that worry me. Just this afternoon she wanted to know if they did background checks on bus drivers - the first time she's asked this in four years of wee ones riding the bus - because I told her that Little Miss had a new bus driver, a younger somewhat heavy-set Hispanic man. Apparently this is grounds for concern. Well, for her anyway. (And yes, everyone who comes into contact with children in district goes through a thorough background check.)

And the number one thing I unlearned from my mom?

Perfect is not the goal. Sometimes good enough really is. Striving for perfection leads to a fear of failure and paralysis. And since you can never accomplish it, there's never the true joy of satisfaction. It isn't that I do thing halfway, but I set a point where I'm satified and can quit.

I can only imagine the things the wee ones will be unlearning from me!

Hopefully it won't have anything to do with giveaways - Biogaia was extended until tomorrow, e.l.f. cosmetics runs until Saturday, and Energizer Smart Charger is open until May 4.


WeaselMomma April 22, 2010 at 6:46 AM  

I am truly the master of #1. =)

Alexis AKA MOM April 22, 2010 at 4:07 PM  

Oh man how true is that last statement! Perfect I am not!

And sitting down .. lol Now I sit for work but the rest of the time it's on the go time :)

Melisa Wells April 22, 2010 at 4:18 PM  

I'm happy with my life too, but I have to say: I could stand to be thinner. :)

Kori April 22, 2010 at 9:32 PM  

and honestly, after awhile, #3 doesn't even apply; now, after four kids of varying ages, there must be blood AND broken bones for it to be truly scary. :)

septembermom April 23, 2010 at 9:29 AM  

I'm finally learning that a crazy house is okay. My mom always wanted peace, peace, peace. Is it possible with kids? She would worry about it too much. I'm learning to go with the flow. Pick my battles.

MaBunny April 23, 2010 at 9:41 AM  

I like your list Michelle. thanks for sharing the things you have unlearned. I've also learned that when your kids make ugly faces, they really won't stick that way.

Claudya Martinez April 23, 2010 at 4:05 PM  

You are thin and you are rich; it's all relative.

Hyacynth April 23, 2010 at 7:53 PM  

You color-coded your college schedule, too? I still have dreams about not realizing I have a college class until grades come out and I have an F. (Never happened.)
I've unlearned from my mom that I shouldn't spend too much time relfecting on the past. It's not such a good thing to continually reflect, you know?
Also, I think you're thin.

Michelle April 25, 2010 at 7:55 PM  

Weaselmomma - Why yes, yes you are ;)

Alexis - It's funny, but you're right. I sat so much more when I was working than I do now. Which is probably a good thing, I suppose.

Melisa - Oh I'm with you that I could stand to be thinner but to espouse that this is what makes you happy in life scares me (and she's 5'4 and 105).

Kori - I can only imagine the fun that must come with four kids' injuries - real and fake!

Kelly - I'd love peace, too, but it isn't always realistic. Detente is good enough?

Marcy - OH yeah! I completely forgot that one. My mom used to always threaten that one, too.

Unknown Mami - Absolutely! It's completely relative and about being happy and comfortable with who you are. I'm getting there!

Hyacynth - Oh yeah. I miss having that hourly day timer. Good learning of the not holding onto things from the past constantly. And thank you! :)

Pat April 26, 2010 at 11:40 AM  

Wow, I'm impressed, especially about #1, as it has become my mantra since reading "The Mom Factor," great read!

kI agree with all ten!

Karen April 26, 2010 at 2:26 PM  

You are an incredibly wise woman. I have a lot to learn from you.

Michelle April 26, 2010 at 10:32 PM  

Pat - Oooo the Mom Factor? That sounds like something I'll have to pick up to read when I have a moment free!

Karen - Oh no, I just play one on a blog ;) I am so not wise.

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