I Love You Enough to Let You Hate Me

Posted on August 19, 2009. Filed under: Parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

When our daughters were little, we used to play the “How Much Do You Love Me” game. Spreading our arms wide, we’d say, “I love you soooo big!” Sam always had a cute way of saying it–“I love you huggy much and sweet.” Those were the cute days, when love was enough to satisfy almost everything, except for their ferocious appetites, that is.

Now that they’re older, we say ‘I love you’ differently. A text message Luv u or a quick Love you – Love you, too, as the girls are flying out the door. But once in a while, I find it necessary to say I love you a little differently.  Today is one of those days, and today this is how I’m telling my daughters that I do, indeed, love them.

Sometimes when I say no, it’s because I love you. Really.

Sometimes when I say yes, it’s also because I love you.

Sometimes I let you spread your wings and fly, visiting friends and spending the night with them. I know you need friends and fun, and I say yes because I love you.

But when you’re gone for three days and nights, I’ll yank you right back, just like a momma bear would do. So, fly, but always know that when you fly too far, I’ll clip your wings.  Why? Because I love you.

I got you a cell phone because I love you. I know, everyone has one. But I love you enough to check in with you and make sure you’re okay. I love you enough to encourage you to check in with me and let me know you’re okay. But when that phone is at somebody else’s house on a charger and I can’t reach you, I love you enough to take it away. You don’t get the awesome privilege of texting your friends 24/7 if you don’t respond to me.

As I have with every one of you, I love you enough that I will not – ever- let you drive to school. Oh, I know that you think I hate you because of that, but it’s 100% based on love. I’ve attended the wakes of too many teenagers who never made it to school or home from school on that same route.

So, while you’re sitting here in our boring house tonight hating me because you want to spend the fourth night away from home, there are some things you need to know. When you push, I’ll pull. When you want more freedom, I might impose more limitations.

You see, everything is great – in moderation. Friends are wonderful, but they aren’t eveything. You have a family, too. We also need you. You also need us, though you don’t always know it. You need rules, restrictions, and reminders. You need to learn respect and gain the values you’ll need when you don’t need me anymore.

The only thing that doesn’t require moderation is love.  Whether it’s SO BIG or huggy much and sweet, there’s always room for more.

Sometimes, the greatest way to show that love is provide limits, even though I know that, right now, you’ll hate me for it.

I love you enough to let you hate me.

Someday, I hope you’ll thank me for loving you that much.

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I’m Touched

Posted on August 14, 2009. Filed under: Parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Oh, it has been a whirlwind of weeks, one with many ups and a few downs.

I’ve been working on marketing my book, but as in life, the best of all plans sometimes gets sidelined. And the sending off of our second daughter to college and getting another ready for marriage were the reasons for it.

On Monday, we addressed, stuffed, and mailed 159 wedding invitations. Tuesday, I picked 6 lbs. of green beans. Wednesday, we took Heather off to college.

If you’ve never sent a child off to college, I can tell you it’s a major endeavor. Buying new bedding, towels, robes, shower kaddies, and enough water bottles and snacks to feed our family of six for two weeks takes a lot out of you. Running around town, picking up immunization records, signing into the federal loan site 26 times to verify or print out the latest urgent, priority email, and still trying to work have left me zapped. Zipped and zapped, in fact.

There was no time for emotion, just a to-do list that grew, instead of getting smaller. Then, after packing everything, off we went, turning the page in our book as yet another child moved on into the big, wide world that didn’t include us. After standing in line, pushing, pulling, dragging, and kicking (yes) her belongings foot by foot for a good mile, we finally got to the elevators, which naturally don’t go to every floor – just every 3rd floor of the dorm. So, we hauled it all off the moving box and into the hall, where we took turns carrying everything up the stairs to the next floor, where her new room waited.

Hot, tired, and irritated, those were my emotions. Cool down time meant lunch, a chance to relax and refuel. Then, came the moment, saying goodbye. Along with the moment came the tears – mine, not hers. They started at around 3 PM and to tell the truth haven’t quite ended.

And she’ll be back today…for her big sister’s wedding shower tonight – I did say it’s been a busy week, right?

But it won’t be the same. Never. Again. We’ve turned the page, and she’ll never be here EVERY morning, having a cup of coffee with me, telling me what she needs me to do, or telling me what she wants to do. It’s changed. It’s scheduled now, and it’s intermittent. She’ll change, too. I know I already have.

The melancholy that struck me is backed up by the double whammy of a family bridal shower tonight for our oldest. Today, she does a trial hairstyle for her wedding day, gets fitted for her dress, orders her veil, and then off tonight we go to her shower.

And I have to come to grips with the fact that they’re leaving. Maybe they’re already gone, I’m not sure. But there’s a finality that was never there before that comes to me now, triggering stronger emotions than I thought. It is the price I pay for having their love and laughter for 18 plus years.

It’s stirred memories of their younger days – running in and out of the house, needing me by their sides, having to be closely watched at all times as they learned new things.  For some reason, one memory ran through my mind. Meridith was two, maybe three, years old. She was outside with her dad, and I was in the house. Dad went around to the back yard for a minute, and Meridith didn’t follow. She walked across the neighbor’s yard, and he came to the door to let me know.

“Patti, your little girl, Big Time, I think you call her, just walked across my yard, you better catch her.”  By the time I got out there, her dad already had caught up with her, so she was okay – and yes, we called her Big Time, an affectionate name because everything she did or felt was at maximum levels.

It occurred to me when I remembered this, but not when it happened, that it’s strange – unfortunate, really – that the people we trust with our children are afraid to go near them. He could have scooped her up and brought her to the door, but society tells us it’s wrong to touch another person’s child. Ironic though, isn’t it, that the people we don’t trust are the ones who aren’t afraid to go near our children.

So, now that the two oldest are gone or leaving, and yes, I’m crying again, I can only hope that people I trust aren’t afraid to touch them, and the people I don’t trust don’t get close enough to try.

I’m here, girls, always here. Ready to touch you whenever you need me.

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Playing Dress Up

Posted on June 22, 2009. Filed under: Parenting | Tags: , , , , , |

When my four daughters were younger, their grandma kept a large bin full of dress-up clothes–prom dresses and bridesmaid gowns she’d purchased from garage sales over the years. With many granddaughters, the dress-up store in grandma’s basement was a crowd favorite, and the girls thoroughly enjoyed putting on fancy dresses and feather boas, with mardi gras necklaces and high heels.

Now, they’ve grown up, and they no longer play “dress up,” but do the real thing. Pretty, glittery, shiny, and flowing Homecoming, Winter Ball, and Prom dresses abound the closets which once held a toy box full of dolls and balls. It’s special, seeing them in glamorous dresses instead of blue jeans and tee shirts is spectacular. But, I’m not quite ready for the ultimate daughter dress up of all time.

Our oldest is getting married. Her wedding dress is all picked out, and she’s naturally a vision of beauty in white. Teary eyed and all, I watched her try on dress after dress, and like they say, when you put on the “right” dress, you know it right away. Then, her three sisters all tried on bridesmaid dresses, and they, too, were just beautiful in their gowns. They finished with their fitting and looked over at me. “Mom, it’s your turn. You have to have a dress, too.”

Mother of the bride. I never thought of myself as a mother of the bride. I’ve always been the bride here at our home. Well, the bride, the mom, the cook, the nurse, the laundress, the chauffeur and the maid, but never the mother of the bride. And on September 26th, I’ll have to sit and watch our four growing or grown daughters in their crowning beauty as they stand at the front of the church for what is the biggest day in our family’s life. It’s the first time that I won’t be in charge, at the head of the program…I’ll be sitting back and watching it unfold, taking a new role, the mother of the bride.

But, I need a dress – a dress appropriate for a mother. One that still has a hint of the style and class I had when my waistline was pre-children, but one that also says I’m Old Enough to Have a Daughter Who Is Old Enough to Get Married. The dress must depict the style of the wedding, but also be just enough different that it isn’t confused with the wedding party. It must be tailored and expensive, yet, understated enough that it blends in so it doesn’t compete with the bride and her three sisters. It must say that this is the final chapter in my role of raising Sam, and acknowledge that there are still three books yet to finish. The perfect dress must say that I’m proud, yet be forgiving enough to still look elegant when I’m crying. And, the only head it must turn is that of my husband.

Alfred Angelo, can you design a dress for a slightly middle-aged, proud mother, that fits the description? Because I can’t seem to find one that is special enough for the occasion.

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