Had the best walk around the neighborhood this weekend. Every street corner smelled of Christmas trees. Houses decked with ribbons and wreaths. Twinkling lights wrapped around brownstone doorways and stoops. The freshly falling snow dusting everything like powdered sugar. It’s magic what the first few hours of snowfall can do. For that hour on my walk with one of the girls, life felt perfect.
But the truth? There are many days lately where I’ve wanted the day to end so that I can “start fresh”. Parenting is damn hard. Some days are filled with regrets. More than ever, parenting is like holding up a mirror to yourself and facing your demons head on. I try to draw on my memories of when I was their age, when I was coming into my own opinions and starting to defend what I think is right if only to myself (couldn’t talk back..that isn’t “acceptable behavior” in the culture I was raised). Remarkably, I can still sort of remember what it was like to be 10. I try to remember how my mom handled things, but honestly, we were not a family of talkers which is part cultural and part personality, so I often come up blank. There is so much baggage that we bring along with us from our own childhoods. Clashes happen when you have 2 stubborn and strong personalities and I realize that my kid, who I always thought was completely different from me, is perhaps not as different as I thought. So there is arguing and this is new because it didn’t really exist on this level before. And you know what? I’m not always right…the parents are not always right.
Lately I think about the fact that their time at home with us is half over. In as many years as they are alive, they will be off to college. It immediately makes me want to hug them tight and hope I’m not screwing them up with my own issues. This is often the moment when I realize that getting angry for yet another lost glove or a hat, for example, is stupid. Frustrating, yes, but in the scheme of things, not worth the battle in the end. Ironically, it’s seeing and sharing the frustration on other parents’ faces while rummaging through the lost and found at school that often makes me realize this.
On the flip side of things, as a daughter I think about how my relationship has evolved with my own mother and wonder what kind of relationship I’ll have with the girls when we’re all older. The foundation starts here, early, at this age and sometimes that scares me because everything feels like it counts. I know 8 years is still a lot of time, but it also isn’t. I look forward to all the major life changes that we’re heading towards in those 8 years, but in the back of my mind I can’t ignore that there is a clock ticking. I don’t want them filled with regrets wishing I would have done things differently, but life wouldn’t be life if there weren’t challenging days as well as good ones. When the good kind of days happen, everything else melts away.