Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Embracing Imperfection in the "Good Enough" Club

It all started out with the "Let me drive everywhere! EVERYWHERE!!" and quickly turned into the, "Gas is too expensive. YOU drive." Such is life with a 17-year-old owner of a '94 teal green Cadillac De Ville. Yes, she drives an old-person car. She has a love/hate relationship with it. As her mother, I love it because it is safe. Sigh. I remember my own love/hate relationship with my Chevy Blazer my dad bought as a tank. Anyway, the biggest hazard she faces in her car is being mistaken for a Missing Elderly.

She bought the car with her own hard-earned money with the intention of finally losing the tag-along parents. We live basically in the middle of nowhere so whenever I drive the kids someplace, I tend to stay until they're ready to leave. I know. Wicked.

So did I say hard-earned money? She teaches piano lessons and babysits. And then she doesn't want to part with the money for things like....gas. So I'm back in the driver's seat.

Such was the case last Saturday when my teens wanted to go to The Cove to hear a friend participate in NESA's Battle of the Bands. I was happy to take this gig because I love The Cove and I love the friend and the friend's parents. Off we went. Oh, and I was coming down off of a 2-week solo parenting stint while my husband was out of town - so the idea of getting out with my husband and our oldest kids sounded like F-U-N.

After dropping off the two little'uns at their aunt's (without looking back) we headed to The Cove. Ahhhhh.....with real music playing in the car! REAL music. Not Raffi or the Alphabet Singers. OK - well, before someone outs me on this let me just say that I don't really listen to Raffi or the Alphabet Singers in the car, anymore. I did that with the first 3. With the last two it is more like we try to avoid songs with blatant profanity (the F-Bomb). I know! Horrible! When I think about how my current self would look to my former self - let's just say that my former self would judge my current self to be massively lame in the Mothering-Of-Little'uns department. Because I was HARD CORE with the first 2 and Medium Core with the middle one and more soft core with the last two. I've now descended into the endurance phase of the race, having totally expended insane amounts of energy during the sprinting (Barney/Sesame St/Finger painting/Playgroup) phase.

While I'm thinking of my former self - I feel the need to share a particular memory I often re-visit. Many moons ago - when I was still sprinting - I founded a local MOMS Club chapter. One sunny day we were at the park and I was trying to entice a prospective member I'd met. She was there with her toddler. Through the course of conversation, I learned she also had two older kids. Whatever. I was still sprinting. Anyway, we were talking about television shows and I mentioned (rather enthusiastically) how we didn't allow our kids to watch television because it was just filthy, nasty, horrible smut....or something like that. And the woman just gave me a glance that indicated she was done sprinting and she said (under her breath but I heard her), "I didn't know this was the Good MOMS Club....I need the Bad MOMS Club."

OK - we are still weird about the TV business compared to most people (at least with the little'uns). But not nearly as weird as we used to be. And I certainly don't B-R-A-G about it (anymore). I have since seen this woman now and again and I always want to say somehow that I am now also in the Bad MOMS Club....but I don't ever know how to bring it up. Besides, she won't make eye contact with me.

Anyway, so with Guns n Roses blaring (Joel's IPod got plugged in first) we headed off on our fun night out. We had a GREAT time hanging with some good friends and listening to some teenagers wail on guitars and stuff. And then? Self-doubt intruded into my fantastic night! Rude. And what is it with the self-doubting, lately? It is getting boring, believe me. Anyway, so I was sitting there sipping my wine and visiting with my friends. I looked around the room and realized that most of it was packed with teenagers from ISA and NESA. They were all having a great time. And then I noticed that MY kid was sitting at the table with the grown-ups, chatting away. And her brother was standing in a corner of the room holding his soda. Alone. And suddenly I was like, "Oh my God. We've made a huge mistake with this homeschooling thing! HUGE. My kids have no friends!! Oh Holy Crap they're unsocialized!! What was I thinking? They are RUINED."

I said to Ellie, "Don't you want to go sit with your friends?" (She knew a ton of the kids there). Her response? Was. "Do you want me to?"

Ugh. "Yes! Go away and stop being weird!"


And so she did. She wandered off and hung out happily with hordes of teenagers.

Now then. If the truth be told, when Ellie was in school (thru 3rd grade) she typically hung out with the teachers. At lunch she would happily sit at the picnic table chatting with her teacher watching "the kids" play. And that was BEFORE she was homeschooled.

But I wasn't thinking about that at the time. I wandered over to Joel and said, "Are you having a good time?"

He looked like he was having a good time. He had a grin on his face and was watching the band. Unlike his sister, he didn't really know many of the kids there, so he was just kind of hanging out.

"I'm having a good time," he said.

"Really?" I said. "Are you sure? You're just standing here alone."

He just looked at me like I was weird. Unlike me, he'd never been indoctrinated into the You Can't Have A Good Time By Yourself Club.

Hmmmm.....I went back to my friends. 'Cause I really can't have a good time by myself. And our little friend, Sarah, won second place as the only acoustic solo act.....she is an awesome singer/songwriter. I enjoyed some wine but, no matter what anybody says, I wasn't drunk. I was just HAPPY. Really. To be out, and all. After 2 weeks of the solo-parenting.

I have a favorite song among Sarah's repertoire, and she didn't sing it in her set. So she sang it to me in the parking lot, later. 'Cause she is cool that way.

And here is actual evidence of Ellie's ability to socialize. She's on the far right.

And here I am socializing - and I am really NOT DRUNK. (By the way - I'm the short, chubby drunk one on the left.)

And here is Joel, having a good time. This picture wasn't taken at The Cove. But it is, in fact, a picture of him having a good time somewhere else. And this is pretty much how he usually looks.

So when the night was over, I was still having the minor doubts. As we got back in our van, Joel commented that he had had a really good time (alone) and Ellie commented that it had been really fun (and she would have felt that way even if she had stayed at the grown-up table). And Jules, who I hadn't really seen much of throughout the evening, began to tell of his escapades on the playground where he had been ganged up on by some little girls who had called him names and flipped him off. WHAT???

This made his brother laugh hysterically. 'Cause he is supportive that way. And then Jules began laughing hysterically. And that was good. That was better than what I had intended to do, which was to talk about it until it took on Enormous Significance and Monumental Importance.

So - thank you Universe, for working in Mysterious Ways. Because as we drove home I was reminded of how really and truly well-rounded and happy my kids are. I was happy that Jules was able to laugh it off because he hasn't endured a lifetime of teasing at the hands of classmates. This group of girls very quickly honed in on the fact that my little Asperger's kid is "different". He was called names and made fun of and he truly didn't see it as a reflection of himself - but rather - he saw it as the girls just being mean. He said he mostly avoided them and continued playing. So, if this kid were in school with his issues, I wonder if it would be the same? Or, would he have internalized the cruelty?

And, if he had been in school....would Joel have been perfectly content and happy to stand inside a room of people he didn't know....enjoying the music and not worrying at all about what others were thinking of him? I haven't made the "perfect" decision in regards to the way I'm raising my kids. But there is no perfect decision. And I do think that I made the best decision for the particular kids I'm raising. Hopefully, my self-doubts will be put to rest, at least for a little while.

Signing off as Sardine Mama - Proud Member of the "Good Enough" Mommy Club.

1 comment:

  1. So they have learn something very rare, to be confident in themselves? Or is it "I can have a good time no matter what". I do not depend on others to make me happy.
    That is some very good attitude no matter how you label it!