The C Word

Control.

I want it. I cannot have it.

I want Control over my life, yes, but even more I want Control over my children’s lives. I want them to be happy, but not selfish. I want them to be smart, both in books and street. I want them to be respectful, but wise. I want them to understand that our culture is sick, but I don’t want them to disengage/numb from it. I want them to seek adventure, but always with a helmet and an exit strategy.

I want them to wash their fucking hands and brush their goddamn teeth.

I want them to be Perfect.

And why shouldn’t they be?! I have spent a lot of time thinking about them and finding them the perfect schools and the perfect milk and the perfect limitations for electronics and sassiness.

And still they are defiant and whiny and ungrateful. In fact, they even seem UNHAPPY sometimes. How dare they be unhappy? Don’t they know how hard I am trying here? Why can’t they just get with the fucking program and be happy and self-actualized (whatever that is)? Instead, I look at them and think, “holy hell, they are just like me, but without concern for hygiene.”

I wish I could gracefully give them the Gift of Failure. I wish I could look at them serenely when they are insisting on not following some rule and say, “Ok, son. Go ahead and touch that hot stove because I can see that suffering a first-degree burn is the only way you’re going to believe that the stove is hot and dangerous.”

But we live in a zero tolerance world. Especially for boys. Failure could easily turn into broken bones, an overturned car, a prison sentence. (Yes, my boys are 9 and 11 and I can totally see that these concerns are not, most likely, going to happen today. But the future is right around the corner and we need to prepare, people.)

If they would just LISTEN to me, everything would be perfect. They would be perfect. Because, it turns out, I have the power to raise perfect children. Right? Because I am perfect, yes?

Deep breath. Heavy sigh. My little “24 Hours A Day” book tells me that “worry is terrible mental punishment.” And it is. It really, really is. But how to do this? How to let go of these destructive thoughts of perfection and this desire for control?

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8 thoughts on “The C Word

  1. I don’t know if it was a rhethorical question but my answer? Sobriety and meditation. Sobriety leads to insight, which this post is, and meditation leads for me to these thoughts holding less control over us 🙂

  2. Thanks, Lucy. I know you’re right. Meditation. Ugh. I wish it was watching an episode of “Modern Family.” But instead the answer is Meditation. And Acceptance.

  3. It is so hard when it come to your kids. I want to teach them all the lessons so they never feel the sadness or loneliness I did.
    But then they would never feel the freedom and joy I feel.

    So I just take it one thing at a time, a
    Ways trying to get in deep breathing and kindness as a life lesson.

  4. I think one way you let go of those thoughts is writing a very funny blog post about it. That way you also perform the public service of making me laugh! It sounds like you’re getting some perspective on the control thing here, which is bloody hard to do in our mastery-and-control obsessed culture. Hope all is well! xo

  5. Hey, for what it’s worth, I’ve gained a lot of help and insight from the following books: “Free Range Kids”, “Love and Logic,” “It’s OK Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Kids,” and “The Idle Parent.” They’re all available on Amazon and also most likely at your public library.

    We can’t control other people – even our kids. The best we can do is create a predictable environment that they can feel part of and that gives them the opportunity to make real-world choices and mistakes while the stakes are still low.

  6. I shared your worries and frustrations. You can only do your best. Now mine are grown with children of their own and as I watch them I’m very proud. I’m amazed at the wonderful parent and man my son has become, (as his terrible two’s lasted until he was 21) I didn’t do that, he did. You give them life and some guidance, the rest is up to them. I wouldn’t have thought of this without your post. Thanks.
    Sharon

  7. I agree with Sharon 100%! I also want to add that right now you’re going through the equivalent of what women go through with 12-13 year old girls. Boys at this age are…well…nasty. They smell bad (poor hygiene? my four had NO hygiene), they’re mouthy, they’re moody and they are pushing that envelope to the LIMIT! I wanted to turn mine back in at this age because…well…I just plain didn’t like them very much.

    And no one tells you about that in boys! Everyone talks about how awful girls are through puberty but they never tell you that pre-puberty is what will kill you with boys.

    But worry not. Soon they will be wonderful and caring me who love their sober and present mom more than life itself. They also become fiercely protective which is really cute (but don’t tell them I said that). Even after the girls come along (or likely they already have even if they haven’t admitted it) you will always be “mom”.

    Sherry

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