How to Be the Perfect Parent…

Don’t have children.  Sometimes I get an idea for a blog and I start a draft of it, so I don’t forget.  The post-menapausel Alzheimers I get sometimes has me forgetting things two minutes after I think of them. so I try to get a title and few sentences to lead me, when the time comes to actually write. .  I sat down to write the other day and looked at some of my thoughts and all I had written under this title, was “don’t have them.”  I laughed trying to remember what my mind set was that day.    Was it the day when there was an eye roll, or a sarcastic rebuttal to my advice?  I don’t remember!  🙂

I was not the perfect parent, nor am I still.  The news flash?  No one is.  Are you? Have you met one?  Do we love our children like they’re perfect?  Absolutely…  Are they?  Are we?  Depends on the day…

I wished I had done things differently; somedays I do.  There were days when I made mistakes, or came close to making mistakes, that I shudder at now.  I gave them quite a bit of freedom; freedom to try things, to travel, and to express themselves.  I let them fail, but if I had to step in because someone was unjust, my reaction was predictable and swift.  I didn’t helicopter; oh once in a while a rotor started to spin, but I would always try and think first, trust that they could take it and could figure it out.

I could have done better with father figures for them, by the time I figured it out and married Dave, they were grown and have had to figure out on their own what a good male parent looks like.  They have faced disappointment and sadness, but have survived. They are all very strong and very independent, sometimes more than I would like.. they don’t need us so much anymore, or at least don’t think so, at least that’s what they sometimes tell us.   🙂

When Dave and I were married, our youngest daughter wasn’t independent.  The two youngest kids had lost their birth mom to cancer and understandably so, were fearful about loss, about decision making…..  I worked hard to make them more independent.  I wanted them to know that loss was hard, but that they could survive.  I wanted them to be strong enough to survive the other losses that invariably happen.  There was a day though, when our youngest made it very clear to me that she was independent.  I was lamenting to my husband, when he reminded me that her independence had been my goal.   Huh…success?

My sister told me about a time when she overheard our mom tell our dad that they were shitty parents.  There were days when I felt that was true; there are days when my children think they had shitty parents; there are days when your kids have thought you could have done better.. later curfews, more toys, less toys, earlier curfews, less harsh words, more hugs.  We look at them with pride, not only because we feel like we had some small part in the greatness of who they are, but because we know they are surviving us..our mistakes, our youth, our lack of parental example or in spite of our parental examples.  They are not only surviving, most of us are lucky enough to see  them thrive.

Don’t get me wrong, I still worry; I wished I could wrap them up in bubble wrap, store them in a closet so that they are only mine, safe from harm and heartbreak, but that’s not the answer by any means and we all know better (except for that couple in California).   We have to loosen the reins, let them live their lives, and pray that God will keep them safe.  The alternative, if we don’t, is that they break free on their own, with no guidance, with no safety net for when they fail, or someone fails them.

There was this quote in the 70’s, “If you love something let it free, if it’s meant to be yours, it will come back, if it doesn’t it wasn’t meant to be.”  A cheesy quote that we can blow holes in a mile wide, but really the idea is to release what you love, with a glad and open heart, before it wants to escape.  Relinquish the control..we don’t get to be in control, we only pretend.

I told my kids one day, “I’m not going to live my life feeling guilty, I did the best I could”.  “If you think I did things wrong, be a better parent, show me how it’s done, but I did the best I could.”

When I write about our children, it’s with a smile on my face.  They are my biggest worry, losing them is my biggest fear, but they are my greatest accomplishment.  I love watching them parent, whether it is with one child, three, or practicing on a dog.  The growth doesn’t stop for any of us; the learning doesn’t stop and neither does the pride.

How to be a perfect parent?  Don’t ask me; you need to practice on your own.  🙂  You will do the best you can; they will survive it and hopefully so will you..



New Years Resolutions? Every Year Resolution!

I remember the morning I rolled my car.  I was headed in to town for just a short day at school; we were picking up our report cards or something.  I was driving down the road listening to and singing along with:

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die…”

After the morning at school, my sister Lisa and I jumped in my car and started for home.  It was a few minutes later, when my good friend and his buddy came up along side of us and grinned.  I was fourteen and had my license for only a few months. (I was a farm girl and of course the paperwork for me to take my test for my driver’s license was signed off quickly.  The oldest child in the family needed to be driving; the folks were so relieved to have someone to drive kids the four miles to town, so they wouldn’t be on the roads constantly.)  I remember putting my foot down on the gas pedal and speeding up; he sped up too and quickly pulled in front of me.  I remember seeing the speed limit side on the right and thought I was going to hit it, so I over corrected and went across the opposite lane, into the ditch and rolled over on the grassy side hill.

We weren’t wearing seat belts and our eyes were wide, when we landed upside down.  I asked Lisa if she was Ok, and she said she was, but I could see there was some blood on her toe.  Construction workers from the apartments along the road, came down to check on us.  I don’t remember much more about that; I’m sure some sort of shock was going on; I think there was an ambulance, and I know there was trouble.  When we made it to the clinic, I made the phone call and Mom answered.  “Mom, I rolled the car.”  Her first question was if we were both ok.  I answered that we were and she came in to pick us up.

Well, long story short, I was grounded for the summer and then actually there was another accident and I was grounded for the next winter.  Mom and Dad didn’t quite get the driving break they thought they were going to get.  😦  Dad had a buddy who had told me that my Dad had a similar “incident”, I reminded Dad of that and he made some comment about me not needing to be as stupid as he had been.

The best part of that summer is that while Dad decided it was his chance to fence off every side of six quarters of land (160 acres at a time) and have me help him, Mom made us great lunches.  Finally I’m getting to my life resolution.  🙂

I guess we grew up fairly poor.  I didn’t even really realize it until I was in high school.  A friend said to me that I shouldn’t buy something, because I really couldn’t afford it.  I wore lots of hand-me-down clothes and clothes that Grandma had made for me; I got a job when I was 14, cleaning motel rooms, and paid for most of my own things, but with all of that, I never thought of our family as poor.  I mentioned it to Dad one time and he said, “You weren’t poor, I only had one pair of jeans for all week, that was poor.”  I guess it’s all in the perspective lol…

Mom was careful with money; when it was pow wow time on the reservation, or close to a holiday, she would be approached on the mail route, and asked if she wanted to buy any commodities.  She would get a box or so of groceries, pretty cheaply, lots of canned vegetables and if we were really lucky, commodity cheese.  It was a large block of yellow American cheese and was delicious.  I ate more cheese sandwiches with homemade rhubarb sauce than I could ever count.  It’s one of my favorites to this day.  We also had a lot of cake with homemade fudge frosting.  Cake mixes were cheap and it seemed we always had one in the cupboard.  Fruit and sandwich meat was always in the fridge, but it was for the men, who worked.  Well the summer I rolled my car, I got to have “man” lunches and it almost made the fencing worth while.  Everyday when I opened up the lunch bag, there was a summer sausage or ham sandwich and at least one piece of fruit, many times two.  It was the only time we were allowed to eat fresh fruit, anything purchased by the lug was made into sauce, although there were fruit pies; peach is still my favorite.

I’m not sure if it was our diet, or genetics, but us kids all struggled with our weight at different times.  I am blessed with a large frame, hands bigger than a field hands, and shoulders, that even when the blades have stuck out, still make a men’s large shirt fit my shoulders and arms the best.  Exercising and learning to eat differently has been my life’s resolution.  A few years ago, I was told I’m pre-diabetic, destined to be truly diabetic.  I got tears in my eyes, when the pharmacist told me that most pre-diabetics become diabetics, even with work and diet, it seems unsurmountable.  I keep trying though…more vegetables….. more exercise.  I started at a gym last week, with a program designed for me.  I did it ahead of the New Year! Ha!  Trying to beat Father Time…

Poverty, eating habits, genetics?  It’s like everything else; we can’t change some things; we can only move forward and do the best we can.  I’m headed out the door; I have some lunges and weights waiting for me….





I’m the Winner

A family member, who had also been sexually abused said to me once, “Why are you doing ok and I’m not?”  I said to her, “I refuse to let him win.”  It seems like a flippant remark for me to make; I understand that, but that’s my answer. I don’t want to, I refuse to be beat.  Does that mean i always come in first, second or third?  No it sure doesn’t, but it means that’s what I’m shooting for.  You know I’m talking metaphorically..  I get beat many times, I’ve been married three times….divorce certainly isn’t any form of winning.  🙂  I have moments when I call my sister, or a daughter, or a son and talk through the latest crack in my heart.  I’m still in training maybe?

I can’t say that I don’t think about it much, because writing the blog, talking to other survivors, and reading the news keeps it on my mind almost every day.  My daughter said, “You know you can stop writing your blog any time you want?”  I know I can, it would be easier, than I could almost be one of those people who puts it safely away, and never thinks about it again.  But, for now, writing about surviving is part of my purpose; It’s how I win.  Maybe someday…….

I don’t know why some people survive easier than others; I just don’t know.  I spend a lot of time thinking about it.  I look at all survivors of abuse, racism, etc. and wonder how we can all move past it.  How do we forgive and move on?  There is so much hate in the world right now; maybe it’s always been there and social media exaggerates and abuses it.  I look at bullies and wonder, “What happened to you?”  I read horrible, spiteful things on Facebook and wonder the same thing.  This sense of helplessness and hopelessness that permeates our culture, with no relief in sight.  People who have been victimized, who just can’t seem to move away from being “the victim.”  I wonder how to help them, and have tried to help others almost until my own survival was compromised.

Why am I doing OK?, because I refuse to let him win.  I refuse….no one makes me feel this way…I’m in control of my feelings and I refuse.  I give you the right of refusal too.. 🙂 Take it and refuse to let him/her/them win.  Train to be a winner!!