I have a confession to make. Sometimes, my kids throw tantrums. They scream. They have some crazy built-in radar that kicks in when I pick up a phone that causes them to go completely insane and instantly need my attention. They don't always listen. Sometimes, they're those kids screaming at the check-out that make you say "Wow, that Mom should just leave, because she clearly cannot control her children."
From whom did they inherit this? I have no idea.
According to my mother, my younger brother and I were perfect children. We never fought, we always ate what was on our plates at dinner, we had no more than three time outs each in our entire childhoods, and when our mom was on the phone, we politely tapped her on the shoulder and said "Excuse me, dear Mother, but when you're finished, I need your assistance." Okay, perhaps that's an exaggeration, but you get the gist.
A while back, I shared an article on CTWorkingMoms.com called "Don't Carpe Diem" by Glennon Melton and it got me thinking. Someday, far in the future, my sons may become fathers. And it's possible that they may call me and complain about how their adorable little progeny aren't sleeping/listening/eating/etc. And since my memories of parenthood will have been smoothed over like so many rocks in a river, I'm worried that I'll inevitably insist such behavior is abhorrent, something I've never experienced with my own, perfect children.
So... here's my plan.
I'm going to write letters to my sons to be opened if and when they become parents. These won't be the sappy "these are the best years of your life" sort of letters. These will tell the real story of what they were like as babies, toddlers, kids and teens. These letters will, hopefully, explain some of the behaviors they see in their own children and temper my nostalgia.
Here is the first in my series (written in February of this year):
Dear Nate and Joshua,
It's February of 2012. Nate, you are 3 years old, and Joshua, you are 9 months old. I didn't know sibling rivalry started so early on, but Nate, you have been grabbing poor Joshua's little limbs and gleefully screaming "SQUEEZE the baby like a GRAPEFRUIT!" for at least two months now. Joshua, you pulled Nate's hair for the first time (intentionally) last weekend.
Speaking of things that have been going on for months, Nate, you've been insisting that we call you "Baby Bird" since, oh, I want to say August? Yea. It's February. No one can explain where this came from. Your uncle says it's weird. I say you're 3, and 3-year-olds are weird.
We have a new rule in our house about not eating in the living room. This is thanks to you, sweet Natie, after you managed to dump an entire chocolate pudding on our beige corduroy couch and "clean it up" by grinding it in with a kitchen towel. You also drew with a green marker all over the non-puddinged cushion. Why? You said, "I like green."
Joshua, you're a baby, so still too little for much mischief. However, you're never too little for not sleeping, and you, Sir, are the champ. You are up CONSTANTLY during the night, and often will only sleep with mom and dad. You scream like we're torturing you as you're lowered into your crib (which has soft, fleecy sheets, I'd like to add), and you've never slept through the night. Ever. Not once. Did I mention you're 9 months old? You also will only accept mom during the night when you wake up, never dad, which means mom is tired. Very tired. So Joshua, make your wife some really good coffee in the morning, and maybe get that poor woman some flowers.
Anyway, boys, if you call me to vent about your own parenting trials, know that I will have forgotten all of this. Maybe I'll even insist this letter is a fraud, certain that none of this could have possibly happened. I'll tell you how incredibly sweet you both were, how snuggly and cuddly, and how you should enjoy these days while they last. And just for the record, you were and are the best sons a mother could ask for... but it hasn't all been an easy ride. Now you know the truth. Good luck, press on, and may God be with you.