Sitting here with extended family watching the kids decorate the tree…listening to the adults directing them on how to place this ornament, and where there is a bare spot, etc. I hear myself in the other adults, and how I tell my kids to do this or do that or “that’s not right” or that’s not good enough. For the first time, ever, I feel bad seeing the light in their eyes deflate, it seems tedious now to them, not Christmas, not fun like it should be, like it was when they were unwrapping and opening the boxes remembering what this decoration is, or where that one went last year.
It makes me wonder if I do this to my kids…and the answer is yes. Not just at Christmas, but all the time.
I want things done right, and dammit, they should be, is that too much to ask? But who am I to say that my way is right? Yes, I am the parent, and “most” of my way is right, but who am I to say that that ornament is too close to the other? Who cares? Why does it matter if they are enjoying what they are doing? Does it matter that the towels are folded in 4 instead of 3 perfect lined up edges? No, because they are folded. Just because I do it that way doesn’t mean that it should be that way (even though it looks good in the cabinet when they are all lined up), the towels still dry me, and are clean folded in 3 or 4.
I didn’t keep EVERYTHING and every way of doing things my mom taught me, Lord, knows that woman had a way to do everything, and I’ll be damned if I’m ripping up tissue boxes because they take up too much room in the trash bag (ok, I admit, I have done it once or twice). But at some point, I realized that I wanted to do things differently because it was so ingrained in me to do it a certain way, I wanted to prove it could function and be done a different way…my way.
Nothing excites me more than the thought of my children, grown, functional, and living in the world and contributing to it. How are they supposed to get that way without guidance and rules? How are they supposed to think for themselves when I’m constantly telling them that their way is wrong? How do you balance the two?
My head tells me that they too can experience the joy of running their own house when they are grown, but my heart says that there is nothing wrong with towels folded differently, as long as they are folded. There is nothing wrong with closely placed ornaments, as long as it’s Christmas and everyone is healthy and together and loved. There is nothing wrong with a messy room…if it means we have time to cook dinner together and play a game afterward.
Seems like there’s more than just the children who need to learn how to do things correctly around here. I’ll start by promising to at least wait until they are in bed before I rearrange a few ornaments this year.