Remember this post about me moving back in with my parents? No? Go ahead and read it, I’ll wait.
What I need to add is that we moved BEFORE the Kraken arrived. 5 days past due we hauled ass across the state. You can read about that in The Kraken’s birth story, if you like.
As an adult, I often find myself looking back on growing up with nostalgia. As a mother, I can look back a appreciate the things my parents did for us. But it’s rare I can compare myself to them exactly.
For 7 weeks, I was able to do just that.
Now, there are reasons I choose to parent differently than my parents. Many of them are probably generational. A few of them are because I remember the way it felt being parented that way, and I resented them for it. It’s a tough place to be in, watching your children be parented the way you were, when you told yourself you’d never do it that way. None of this is to say that my mom and dad were abusive or bad parents.
My dad has always been a worker. Gets up between 3 and 4 a.m. to be at work early enough to get stuff done without the buzz of others around him and was usually always home by 4 p.m. Then he’d change into grunge clothes and dive into whatever project he was working on. For years he remodeled the house we grew up in, cleaned up the forest around our home for firewood, and had various other projects going on.
My mom has always been a do-er. She would make sure everything was taken care of before sitting down and relaxing. Worked evenings while we were really young, then started working days once we were all in school. She’d work all day then come home to cook and clean.
Captain and I are so, so different from my parents. I admit it often, I’m a bare-minimum do-er. I keep the house clean enough; never dirty, but not spic and span. Captain doesn’t have the DIY drive to get things done until they absolutely need it done NOW. And we’re okay with that. It works for us. But I know my parents have never approved of our style.
When we moved in and I was pregnant to burst, both of my parents were incredibly helpful with the kids. While we were in the hospital there was no doubt that our kids were well taken care of. When The Kraken and I were released from the hospital, they were great helps and sounding boards during a hard period of extra adjustment for all of us. When Captain left, he left knowing that his family was safe.
Really, we couldn’t have asked for better help.
But, watching my parents interact with their Grandkids on a daily basis, rather than a visiting basis, made me realize where I get some of my parenting issues from.
Short fuse and intensity: My dad. If I have to tell you more than once, I get frustrated, and now I know why.
Need to have things done my way: My mom. This is how I do it and this is how it should be done, and if it’s not, you’re in trouble. Yep, I do that, too.
Suffice it to say, for years I’ve wondered where my tendencies as a parent came from, and now it’s perfectly clear. You really do parent as you were parented, and it’s a hard thing to overcome.
It’s not all bad though.
My dad taught us the importance of physical contact. Every night after dinner, we’d ‘wrastle.’ Dog piles, suplexes, tickling, and rolling around. It’s why I encourage Captain to do the same with our kids. My mom showed me that the easiest way to show someone you love them is to feed them. Nourish their bodies with food made with love. Make enough to feed an army so no one leaves the table hungry. Dad was always working hard to make sure we were taken care of in every way. Mom instilled in us a love of reading.
I’m sure I drove them crazy… I was not one lick of help, at all. Emotionally, I was wrung out. Physically, I was recovering from a freight train labor and delivery. Every time I tried to do something (I do stuff sometimes, I swear!), a child catastrophe would occur and I’d have to stop. I hope the few times my mom came home to folded laundry, she was pleased. I hope the few days I managed to make real food while my mom was gone, my dad enjoyed it. My biggest fear was becoming a burden and making them resent the kids and I. From the way my mom teared up as we were leaving, I don’t think we did. Unless they were tears of joy…
All in all, for 7 weeks, my kids and I were in the hands of the best of the best. They loved us, fed us, and sheltered us through a storm that, otherwise, I would have been facing alone, and for that I can never be grateful enough.