My mom and I have an ongoing argument.
I have gotten in the habit of giving my kids a bath at night before bedtime. It is usually every night…maybe every other night. If my mom happens to call during this time, or if we are visiting and I suggest bath time, she laughs at me and says “how dirty can they really be?” She says that she used to bathe me maybe once or twice a week. My mother-in-law liked to bathe her babies in the morning when it was quiet and everyone was in a happy, rested mood. Apparently everyone has a different way of doing it.
I give my kids a bath at night for several reasons.
1. It helps to fight what I call the evening “crank factor.” From about 4:30 pm on, my sweet little angels take on demon-like personality traits and bath time gives me a way to kill some time before bed in a contained (and CLEAN!) environment. Did I just say kill time? I meant, spend quality time with my adorable children. Truly, I did.
2. I don’t have time in the morning. In the morning, I consider it a great start to the day if I get to bathe. And let’s face it, clean, happy mom wins.
But most importantly,
3. After dinner in my house, my kids usually look like this –
Somewhere between labor pains and my last child moving out of the house…for good, a great deal of time was spent documenting the perfect “Kodak moments” of the perfect “Father Knows Best” family – mine. Unlike remembering the joy of being covered head to toe in baby explosion poop, I have pictures of my perfectly groomed baby girl and her little brother in front of the Eiffel Tower, at Disneyland’s Small World ride and splashing naked in our back yard baby pool. The fact that shortly after that picture was taken our Labrador decided to join the fun, knocking over the kids and nearly drowning my son, is forgotten. It’s not in the picture.
The fantasy of perfect parenting is a blessing that allows us to anticipate someday becoming a grandparent and entering into what other Grandparents will tell you is “the happiest time of their lives.”
What none of them admit, but I am here to tell you, is that becoming a grandparent catapults you right back into the not so glamorous aspects of being a parent…only this time without the “Kodak moments” and the last word. It’s a dirty little secret we “grannies” hide from the newbies and only over a glass or two of wine will admit to each other. It’s parenting without “time outs,” it’s parenting without the Secretary of Defense and boots on the ground Marines to back you up. It’s hanging on a tether suspended over the Grand Canyon without a cell phone to call for help. And, yes, it IS the happiest time of your life.
But, as Goldie Hawn said and the Today Show confirmed in their special report on Celebrity grandmothers (April 23rd, 2009,) the Boomer’s have a new vision of Grandparenting. We are Glam-Mas.
In many instances in my life, my mother has known best. Cigarettes did taste awful and just made me cough. Those mean girls in school really did turn out to just be insecure. I discovered this, and some other delicious payback, at our 10-year reunion. But that is a story for a different type of blog. There is nothing more important then family, even when your little pain in the ass brother does something that makes you want to pummel him…or torture him by dressing him up as a girl. Nope, I would NEVER do that. And finally, although there are certainly many more examples, I did just know when it was the right guy. I never believed that I would, but there again, she was right. SHE even knew he was the right guy, before I told her. I cringe to even admit all of this. I can just see my mom grinning with delight. “Aha, she finally admits it. I am right!”
By the time I got married, I had already come to this conclusion and had stopped avoiding my mother’s advice and instead often sought it out. We talked daily and the questions were endless. What should I do about my job? Did these shoes match this dress? How do I solve this or that problem? She was a reliable and helpfully opinionated sounding board.
Which is why we were both surprised about how the balance of our relationship changed when I gave birth to my daughter. In the blink of a contraction, I was the proud owner of this small, red, wriggling bundle of joy, and she was completely my responsibility. The magnitude of it all was exhilarating, awe inspiring and terrifying all at the same time. But I was ready for it. I had read the books, taken the classes, interviewed pediatricians and babysat for my friend’s kids. I was armed with knowledge and a fair amount of adrenaline. Suddenly I became the mother who knows best.
Don’t get me wrong, I still go straight to my mom when I have a friend, work, fashion, life question. And I am always poking and prodding her for stories about when I was little and what things were like when I was growing up. But when I have a mom question, things are a bit different and she is not always my first phone call. It has been a strange adjustment for both of us.