Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On Butting Out

I stood in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner tonight, listening to two very happy little people giggle and scream and laugh. One big person was prompting all the excitement (hint: it was not me). See, Jack loves to wrestle. Molly loves to sort of wrestle while making up rules for the wrestlers. I don't love to wrestle. I don't love rules about wrestling. I can pretend for about three minutes but then I get worried someone is going to smack his head or my mind wanders to who exactly I'm picking up tomorrow or hey look! A squirrel. If anyone wants me to read a book or make friendship bracelets, I'm your gal. If you want me to wrestle... wellllll... Anyway, even though we usually split the dishes or do them together, I really didn't mind doing them solo tonight. I listened to shrieky laughter and I enjoyed the few minutes where I wasn't on. I knew that no one was going to ask me to hold her underwear (like earlier today at gymnastics because god forbid one wears underwear under her leotard) or to find something that is ten inches from his face but still mysteriously lost AND I was still able to enjoy all the people being happy. Because I'm with my little people for many of their waking hours, I get used to my ways of being with the kids. When John "comes home" (i.e. he walks upstairs) from work, sometimes I forget to shift into the "we are four" mode with two parents to solve conflicts and squabbles and two parents to make people smile and two parents to hear about the school day. Frankly, I make the mistake of staying the go-to parent. But tonight, I realized that it's not important for me to be in the middle of the melee to enjoy their giggling. In fact, it was far better for me to be out of the picture and let the three of them have their own thing. And it was good for me to have waking moments of not being the go-to person. This is all stuff that I've been very aware of since we became parents but it was a lot easier to accomplish when we had babies and toddlers whose needs were largely concrete. It was easy to divide tasks because their wants were simple and easily fulfilled. As they get older and their needs become nuanced and complex, it's more challenging to remember to sit back on some things and assess who might be better to address a specific topic... or who might be better to distract them from it. Look, I'll always spend more time bandaging injuries -- emotional and physical -- because I'm the primary, stay at home parent but it doesn't mean, by any stretch, that I'm only one who is able to do it. Really, butting out of the wrestling session was right by everyone. John was on to soothe any accidental bumps and to finish out the day laughing and doing something they all enjoyed that didn't involve or need my pesky presence. Obviously, this happens many other times since, despite what my hair looks like, I do go to work and do other things on my own. We're equal partners on this roller coaster. But I spend so much more time physically with these crazy monkeys that sometimes, and this is on me, I forget to physically remove myself from the scene and let their other very capable parent be #1. John is very good about stepping in when I'm going bananas and need someone else to mediate exactly who stepped on whose pinky toe for the forty eleventh time today. But it's the fun stuff that I also need to step back from and that's harder to do. Tonight, though, I realized that being a bystander to other peoples' joys is wonderful too. Bearing witness to happiness is a gift to be savored. And my kids have a dad who, according to expert testimony, is much more fun than me. So, I guess what I'm saying is that I actually love wrestling... when I'm not involved.
Hey look, no snow!

 Pride is winning weird stuffed animals for your kids.

Seriously... not sure who is having more fun.

Privilege is raising these two loons.


Liz said...

I love this. And it is a such a good reminder.

Pride said...

This is brilliant :)

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