May 1, 2011

Parenting in the Now

A few days ago I was helping my daughters clean their room.  It always puts me in a bad mood; I go into zealous crazy overdrive, railing about the enormous mess (leftover food, game pieces thrown willy nilly, filthy dirty clothes mixed with brand new clean ones on the floor) as I order - drill seargent-like - each girl to do specific tasks.  This particular cleaning session was further crazi-fied by my caterwalling 6 month old baby who simply wanted to be held/nursed/loved/paid attention to.   In my fervor, I just couldn't stop myself.  I wanted clean.  I wanted order.  And I wanted it now.

I informed the girls that they had TOO much stuff and that we needed to give some away.  They resisted.  They wanted all their stuff.  They needed every shirt that they hadn't worn in a year.  They liked every stuffed animal that sat, buried, at the bottom of their toy bin.  They didn't want to give anything away.

And my mind - already twirling - flashed quickly to the TV show "Hoarders" - where poor sad people spend their lives locked in their houses buried along with piles and piles of decaying crap.  In my mind, my daughters were the future stars of the Hoarders show.   In my fervor to clean, to give away, to downsize, to organize - I was trying to save my children from certain Hoarders doom.

When, later, I told my mom - my best friend - of this internal dialogue, she burst out laughing.  What?? I said.  I mean - it feels really real.  If I don't teach my kids about the virtues of organization, generosity, minimalism now - won't all hell break loose when they grow up?

My mother's laughter provides me some reassurance that it won't.  Apparently, my own room as a child was a disaster area too, and look at me now.  I'm an organizational dynamo (or zealot- whichever works for you).

Here's my point with this post though.  My most fearful crazy times as a parent have been when I look ahead into the future and imagine that my children will be then just as they are now.  Messy today, hoarders tomorrow.  Shoe-throwing tantrum-crazy 2 year old, psychotic adult prone to violence.   I know I'm not alone in this; many people decide not to share a family bed because the child will "never" want to leave.  They don't pick up their crying baby at night because the child will never stop night-waking if they do.

I have to remember - we all have to remember - that things DO change.  Things in 10 years won't be the same as they are now.  Children will leave the family bed, they'll sleep through the night, and yes - they'll learn the importance of cleanliness and organization.  They won't learn from lectures and yelling and neglect and shame though.  They will learn from our example.

I want to be an example of love.  So - I'm reminding myself to be in the present moment.  To love and be grateful for NOW.  To not fear tomorrow.

Next time I help them clean their room, my goal is to remember this :)


  1. Thank you for making me smile and laugh. I go to the same places you do. But keep in mind of the brilliant moments too -- my kid can jump higher and further than any other kid his age, and I see him in the olympics.

  2. Excellent! :) I feel the same way, KCH, and always need to ground myself about the toy situation and mess as well. I am particularly sensitive about not getting rid of stuff. I came home one time, and my mom had tossed some dear things to me. Lesson learned. I, too, am an organizational zealot right along with you. Cheers!

  3. Thank you! I can relate to the messy room experience - both as a kid and a mom. :) Lovely to find you over here after reading a review of your book, Nursies When the Sun Shines. Thank you for sharing your light. It's on my book list.


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