Sometimes I wonder how effective my parenting has been and whether I have provided enough rich and meaningful experiences for my children over the years. I think of what traditions they will carry into their independent single lives and which they will insist on keeping when their partners can’t understand the rhyme or reason for any number of things.
Will they make their children line up at the top of the stairs, youngest to oldest, not able to go down to see what Santa has brought until all are awake and in line? Will it always be the youngest, as it was for me and for my kids, who is most frustrated by their siblings disregard for Santa and presents and anything other than “a few more minutes of sleep”?
Traditions are built out of consistency and unfortunately, in this case at least, I am a single mother. The only thing that is consistent is my exhaustion, irritability and need for a break from having to do all things… all of the time. And every now and then, when I am reminded by some divine guidance, to think about what my children will carry with them, I try to start some new tradition which inevitably ends as soon as single parenting duty forces me to forget that the whole purpose is to start a tradition.
Let’s see, we have had Saturday morning cleaning until I hired a cleaning lady and got comfortable with being able to just get up and get out to enjoy Saturday with the kids. Then, when I fired the cleaning lady, we just never quite got back in the habit of the Saturday chores. Needless to say, I had to get another cleaning lady and my oldest doesn’t remember the ritual early rise and distribution of chores.
We have had Saturday morning walks to go get a cup of tea. We would usually walk over to Starbucks to get a tall soy chai with no foam and no water, a kids soy milk that we called tea so the little guy felt special, a latte for The Man and a regular chai for the Girl-in-the-Middle. That is until I realized that I cannot handle soy and that Starbucks was getting an awful lot of my money.
We had working out at the YMCA together until The Boy could not stand to stay at the day care that the YMCA so graciously provides for their members. I don’t blame him, really, but because he would not stop crying when left in the arms of the child care attendant for mommy to go exercise, we ended that family activity.
I could give so many other examples but, I will spare you. The point is that efforts were made to make sure that they have something to remember. And what do they remember?
The other day I surprised the Girl-in-the-Middle with a day devoted to hanging out with her. I had dropped off the Boy at preschool and returned home to see what we could get into. The weather wasn’t that great and she didn’t get up and ready early enough for us to go to far. We settled on lunch and a movie.
We went to a favorite cafe of mine, Aroma Cafe. I am always trying to encourage mine to try new things so instead of my usual grilled chicken sandwich, I got a chicken salad sandwich….delicious. The Girl-in-the-Middle got her usual caesar salad, no chicken, and a cup of tea. And we sat down to talk.
So, wondering what she remembers I asked “what kinds of things do you remember from you childhood?”
Me: Whatever, you remember something. There is no way that you remember nothing.”
Her: (in such an annoying way that was sure to piss me off and ruin our day together) I really don’t remember anything. I told you that I have a bad memory.
Me: Nothing? (getting annoyed…trying to hold it back) You remember nothing? You don’t remember anything from Christmas, Easter, holidays…nothing?
Her: I remember you yelling at my cousin for putting too much butter on her bread.
Really? Of all the things, that’s it. Great. Just great.