Monday, February 4, 2013

Yin Parent / Yang Parent

I saw this and completely identified with it.  It made me think about how, as a teenager and a twenty-something I was always just in love with hanging out with kids.  I found them to be fascinating, magical, innocent and brilliant.  I loved to rile them up and leave them to their parents. I loved to talk with them and hear all about their perspectives. 
And I still do.
To a point.
And at those young ages, I would imagine myself as a mom, eternally patient, ever interested in what my kids had to say, a veritable fairy queen of maternalism.
I guess I never took into account that I would also be working full time and packing lunches on a daily basis, tripping over elaborate Lego villages and diapering fake babies whilst pretending to eat fake food.
Now when my kids say "Mommy! Do you want to play house?" I'm thinking No, I don't want to play house. I LIVE house.
So when I lose my cool, nowadays, or just really do not want to play at the moment...the above image makes sense. 
But that's me.
On the other hand...there is my husband.
I told Tad about this picture.  I described it and told him the caption.  He looked at me.
"I don't get it."
"What? How can you not get it?" I explained it again.
"I just don't get it. Is she being mean to her kid in the picture?"
"No! She's just got her arm around him."
"Then why is she saying that?"
"You know, she imagined being this great parent...but her kid is being difficult so it's making it harder for her to BE the way she wanted to be..."
"Well, it's not his fault.  It's her own!"
So we had this discussion about how sometimes I am just mad at them for being difficult to manage or for not listening or for doing anything after which, I do not act according to my prior version of myself.  But Tad just never even considers that it would be the child's fault at all how the parent reacts to things. 
Which is annoyingly, completely correct.
And it's true. After an incident, he's always thinking how he could have done it better.  He's hard on himself sometimes too, both with his kids and in his classroom.
But I still identify with the woman in the picture.  Because in my own childish moments, I am thinking "WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME SO MAD!!!!"  When in truth, I'm in control of my own response..not my kids.
I know our kids can drive him crazy too.  He has times when he just doesn't want to read any more stories or play with toys or wrestle anymore.  And he loses his cool too.  But he always puts the onus on himself when that happens. 
I suppose I do too, in the end
But Tad and I are as different as two people can be. I'm an extrovert where he's an introvert. I'm loud and obnoxious where he's calm and relaxed.  I'm terribly socially awkward in situations where he can completely work a room.  I'm willing to get on the strangely rigged contraption that the children have created and start playing with them where he's thinking about the potential dangers. 
And it goes the other way too.  I'm unwilling to wrestle where he's taking turns letting the kids tackle him.  I'm listing off all the upcoming social events and nights I have to work in the next two months where he's just focusing on what we are doing in that exact moment.  I zip through museums impatiently where he takes his time and reads each exhibit.
And I'm glad I'm married to such a person who is so different from me and helps me think about how and why I do things.  And who marvels at my difference from him.  And learns from me too.  And such a person who would never blame a child (even in his head) for his reaction.

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