My eleven-year-old daughter is throwing a two-year-old tantrum. I know it’s because she is very tired. We all stayed up too late last night. I’m telling her she must get up, on a Saturday, during Spring Break, to go to a class on a day when her good friend in the class can’t go. I’m torn. On the one hand, I understand she is tired, and I am sympathetic. I bristle at the insistence of our society to keep going, going, going, and do, do do, while ignoring the cues from our bodies that say rest, rest, rest, simply because we’ve made commitments for certain things on certain days at certain times. If we don’t show up at these appointed hours, we’re considered slackers, failures. I so wish that we could live our lives in accordance with what our bodies, minds, and spirits want, not feeling so dictated by the artificial human constructs of time and calendar.
And yet I realize the power of setting intentions and making commitments. I believe that honoring our word is vital to our integrity, to our well-being, to our success in life. I want my children to have the discipline to function and succeed in the world we’ve chosen for this lifetime, with all of its artificial constructs of time and space. So I tell her to get up anyway, that she has made a commitment that she must honor, and to get dressed OR ELSE. She glares at me through angry, slitted eyes, and I know she is plotting some revenge. She stomps. She throws things. She cries in the car on the way to the class.I am so close to caving. I am not good at tough love. My children are such amazing, interesting people that I truly would like to be their friend more than their mother…sometimes. I know that’s not my role, and I must continually review the roles of Mother v. Friend in order to keep my decisions, my conversations, and my guidance clearly on the parent side of the fence. It’s not easy, and I often wonder whether I’m entirely successful.
I tell myself, as I often do, that if my children wanted a perfect Mom, they should have chosen someone else; and that we have come together, with all of our weaknesses and challenges, for a Divine Purpose, that none of us showed up here for a perfect life, and we learn more from each other’s stumbles than we do from the waltzes.After class, my daughter is all smiles, and the fury has been forgotten - though she does squint in a way that dares me to bring it up. I smile back, relieved of making any more tough mom choices. For now.