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Parenting

Real Life

May 6, 2013

Real life is messy.  Smelly.  Aggravating.

And invigorating.  Luminescent.  Miracle-laden, even.

Parents know there are added dimensions of complexity to each of these, um, States of Being.

Some days that complexity feels like a sentence.  Some days, an entire year of misery will be erased with a hug from your child.

I haven’t been writing regularly, partly because my girls are getting to the ages that they are cognizant of all the stories I share about them.  And eventually they may consider the fact that I share our daily life online to be inappropriate and intrusive.

However, when I am the butt of the joke, so to speak, I figure I can share.

So this story, it’s about real life.  Real life with three kids, ages 12, 8, and 6.

By the way, have you ever lived with a 12-year-old girl?

Delightful creatures.  Mostly.

On rare occasions, they can succumb to moodiness, snarkiness, and being downright mean.  Not often, mind you, but, well, often enough.

And what’s a mother to do?  By-products of this behavior include gray hair, exhaustion, and high blood pressure (not necessarily in that order).  Well, you can curse the elongated nurturing process of our species, make countdown calendars to detail your offspring’s departure from your nest, or you can just laugh until your gut hurts.

Case In Point

You’re going to think I start this little story (which really happened, in my real life) with irrelevant facts.  Just hang in there with me, OK?

My husband has this gift.  It is the gift of Not Realizing Anything Is Going On Around Him Except For What’s In His Head.  It serves him well in his engineering and marketing career, because he can block out useless noise and immediately see profitability and application implications where others cannot.

[And let’s not forget:  he has countless redeeming qualities.  Not the least of which is:  he loved me enough to marry me.  I’m not even being sarcastic here.  Really.]

When it comes to raising children, Hubby’s gift is what I would call a mixed blessing.  Turns out that I am not the intended participant of the “blessing” part of that phrase.  Since we’re being really honest here, I should admit that I can be anal and commanding and a little strong-willed when it comes to paying attention to what *I* am thinking and what *I* think a properly behaved child should look, sound, and act like.

In short:  compliance makes me happy.

Another relevant fact:  My 12-year-old isn’t much into compliance these days.  To better understand her point-of-view, you should understand that she:

(a)    would like to think she lives in a democracy [she does not, despite being a natural-born American citizen]

(b)   is biologically programmed to disagree with me at this stage in her life

(c)    is truly an amazing, smart, funny girl who will – eventually – make a really positive difference in the world.

We had finished our weekly family supper at Culver’s on Saturday night and were driving around charming Waukesha before heading home.  To be frank, the 12-year-old and I had been disagreeing on everything about life in general for over a week straight.  And despite having my favorite Butter Burger supper after a hard day of cleaning the garage, the bickering had frayed my patience to the merest of threads.

The 12-year-old and I start arguing.  I don’t even remember what it was about.

And we keep arguing.

And of course, I am right.

I am SO right, that I cannot believe that my husband, the father of the three children behind us, has not leapt to my defense with passion and conviction.

I keep looking over at him, giving him the Wife Stink-eye, willing him to stand up for Team Mom.

The 12-year-old keeps needling me.

I finally said to the husband, “Um, HELLO? Aren’t you going to say something??”

He gives me a passive smile, committing to nothing.

Round 742 of the verbal jousting commences, and I am DONE with the entire thing.  In my most kind, warm voice, I say to my betrothed, “You really need to stick up for me here.”  If there is one thing I am good at, it’s defining a battle.

For the moment, please set aside the indisputable fact warring isn’t particularly healthy for families.  Yet, I continue to be AWESOME at forcing my loved ones to choose sides and stand poised to attack.  (Rest assured that God and I are working through this character flaw together.)

Insert another nasty comment from the 12-year-old, with a laugh thrown in for good measure.

More placid smiling from the husband.

In that irrational, exponential way that anger works, now I’m mad at both of them.

I decide my husband of nearly 16 years needs the facts.  “You do realize, right, that long after she’s graduated and out of the house, you’re going to be stuck with me,” I say to my husband.  Again, just imagine my gentle tone and relaxed posture.  I may or may not have been raising my pointer finger to poke him.

My husband just starts to open his mouth in a quick response to my loving statement, but he’s cut off by the 12-year-old.

You can feel her eye-roll AND the weight of her bony arms folded across her chest as she says from the back seat, with the most sarcastic inflection known to mankind:  “Oooohhh!  Good luck with that, Dad!”

My sense of humor overrode my indignance, and I laughed as hard as everyone else.  Well, maybe not as hard as my husband – who, not at all prone to enthusiastic outbursts, actually had a couple of tears sliding down his cheeks as he laughed and held on to his stomach.

Real life, people.

It’s messy.  And hilarious – even when it’s at your own expense.

 

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