there are days when the week has been so long, so lonely, so unappreciative of the fact that i keep the wheels turning all by my damn self, that i don't take care of how quickly these two are growing. i try so hard to give them my attention when they ask for it, or my feedback when they want it, or my laughter when they prompt it, but more times than not it's the easy road that gets handed to them so i can get back to whatever it is i need to do. even if all i need to do is sit and mope about how how long and lonely and unappreciative my days have been.
i felt let down on mother's day when there was no breakfast in bed, there were no sweet cards handmade by my children and thrust upon me at the glorious hour of 9 a.m. there were no flowers and card from my husband, thanking me for being on my own for the better part of 75% of the past three months, not to mention the last three years, and doing a bang-up job of holding down the fort and raising our offspring. there was no leisurely lunch or dinner provided by someone who knows their way around a fish taco and then cleaned up by someone who was thankful for the $10 they earned washing my dishes. i made the family's dinner. just like every other night.
and the disappointment of it sat on me all week long as i heard about all the lovely mother's day celebrations my friends had. as i sat stewing in the resentment that first thing monday morning, i was back on my own for five days, talking to marc maybe 10 minutes a day and always at around 10 p.m., when it was finally convenient for him to call his family.
and then it hit me:
i WANT to be appreciated. i WANT my presence to be acknowledged and enjoyed. i WANT someone to listen to me. i WANT people to say thank you for all the things i do, even if it's just all the little stuff i do each day (heaven knows marc likes to be thanked when he does the dishes ... like he's just done me some huge favor).
and then it occurred to me: do i do that for the kids? do i give them all the attention and respect and energy they deserve from me each day? am i telling them how much i appreciate their love for each other? am i allowing them to really and truly get everything they need from me?
with henry, it's both easy and hard to do these things. easy, because it's always been simple to quantify the things that make me proud: how smart he is, how respectful, how obedient, how sweet. hard, because this year has been a little different for us. last year, he goofed around when taking the test that would qualify him for entrance to the gifted academy and he missed the cut-off by just a couple of points, thus keeping him out of the same class as 99% of his friends. his attitude has been different this year, and his level of interest in school and pride in his work has declined. all he wants to do is play his video games and read. now, i can't fault him for the reading - i applaud how much he loves to read! he reads when he's supposed to be getting dressed, he reads when he's in the bathroom, he tries to read while brushing his teeth, he reads at the table, he reads in the car, he reads the minute he gets home, he reads in bed when his lights are supposed to be off. but because of the video games, he's now choosing to spend much of that reading time with things like the pokemon index and guides to various mario worlds. not really anything that will benefit him in any way. unless he grows up to be a poke-trainer.
he's so tall, and his feet and hands are so big, and i think he's getting self-conscious about that. he hunches and lurches and walks with this lazy, goofy amble. i worry about him being teased when he enters junior high in just 15 short months.
however, now that he's in track, he's getting more self-confidence and he's becoming willing to TRY ... a trait that has always alluded him. he's been so smart and capable of learning easily for so long that anything requiring him to GIVE IT A GO has been swept under the rug in favor of something he's less likely to not do well. something else that's given him a reason to try was being invited to re-test for the gifted academy for next year. i explained to him that he can't just assume he knows all the answers; he needs to make sure he reads all the questions and provides the answer the test is seeking. so he did that, and he bettered his score by nearly 20 points, well within the range of being admitted to the academy. and the fact that he will once again be with all of his friends ... i have high hopes for his mood and willingness to TRY and WORK next year.
i need to remember to not pressure him or express disappointment when he doesn't put forth the effort i think he should have. because when i take a good hard look at it, i also haven't put forth proper effort in being 100% proactive with him for the past year or two. i've let my attention to his activities slide, in the name of "i can't possibly do this one more minute of one more hour of one more day right now." it's easier to give in than to fight.
with harper, it's been a different story. because she's such a different child than henry, i've had a harder time relating to her in many ways. with henry, the first few years were all about expanding his mind, because that's what he and i both loved. with harper, she could quite honestly not care less about learning to write, about sounding out letters, about completing a maze. she wants to use glitter, and build houses for ants, and bake something. and those things take too much of my presence. after doing this mom gig for the past 10 years, the last three of it largely on my own, i've hit burn-out point. harp is getting the short end of the mommy stick. we haven't been as involved with friends and outings as henry and i were, and that isolation definitely has a hand in my apathy. then again, she's my HOME girl. every day she asks me if we're going to just please stay home. she doesn't want to go to school, she doesn't want to do errands, she doesn't want to have to get dressed. she wants to please just stay home with me and talk about her stuffed animals or pretend she's a turtle.
they are amazing children, and they truly are my world, and i couldn't possibly love them more or be more proud of them. i want everyone they meet to know how special they are. i want their families to want to know them and talk to them and adore them for the wonderful little beings that they are before it's too late and they are too old to want to share their lives with people other than the friends they deem important enough to be in their realm. but as much as i want others to give my kids the time of day and not hurt them with indifference, i need to remember that about my own actions, especially because marc is gone so often. i need to double-time my attention to and appreciation of them. and that is so hard to do when the well feels so empty.
i hear people - even marc - telling me that i need to make myself a priority. but i just can't. with the little energy i have to care each day, i need to make sure it goes to my kids. i can't spend it on me and then send them off to fend for themselves. there's a balance that needs to be struck here, and i haven't quite figured out yet what that balance is. but for today, the scale tips to the side of my kids getting my all, because i haven't done so hot with that lately.