A little switch on subjects here from my last few DIY posts to a little bit of “life by design” rather than “decor by design” so I hope you’ll humor me.
One of the great many advantages of getting older is the new perspective it brings to so many things in life. And, that, I can tell you, is a really good thing. Of the things that seemed like the end of the world at one time….most, I can assure you, are not…they’re just not. Take it from this Mimi of four and mother of 3 and all the lessons learned along the way. Sometimes hard lessons along the way can tug at Mama’s heartstrings down the road.
Take for example the year my oldest was a junior in high school and decided on a whim with some other football buddies that they were all going to shave their heads.
Right before the holidays.
Which meant right before holiday pictures for our Christmas cards.
When he came bopping in the door with a big happy grin on his face and a bald head this mama was shocked….speechless…..and then furious. As in…….I was so mad I could hardly see straight. I couldn’t believe he would do it in the first place, but I definitely couldn’t believe he did it without asking first. He shaved off his gorgeous head of hair to go along with the crowd??? What was he thinking? He certainly wasn’t thinking at all! At least not about anything else….like pictures, the holidays, his parents. I rarely got this mad at my kids, but for some reason this just hacked me off like no other. I think part of it was because he didn’t ask and part of it was I was just so shocked when he walked in the door without his gorgeous head of hair. I’m all about family pictures for memories and this wasn’t the memory or the picture I wanted. In other words…..it was all about me, me, me.
But, really it wasn’t.
It was about him. And his friends. And, fun memories they were creating together (or trying to) as a group of friends. And, instead of playing along with it and laughing about it and making it a fun, happy memory for him….I made it a big, fat drag. I was so pissed off I couldn’t see straight. What would everyone think? What would our pictures look like now? Why would he do this without asking me first????? He looks ridiculous!
Well, guess what? He’s almost 35 now and life didn’t end because he shaved his head at 16. And, now, all these years later I still regret my behavior. I know he was as shocked by my reaction as I was at his bald head. He didn’t expect it, because I’m not normally like that. And, as a young mom normally I was pretty easy going and understood trends, but this! This! For whatever crazy reason it just infuriated me. I thought he looked….wellllll if I’m honest here…..just awful! So instead of having fun with it and us having a good old family laugh about it…instead of him remembering what “good sports” his parents were…he remembers the anger. He remembers the shock of having us (mostly me) so mad at him. It killed it. It killed the moment. It killed the memory.
You know what I wish now? I wish when he walked through the door I would have contained my shock, listened the story of why they did it and how much fun they had doing it and then just laughed with him. Maybe said something positive, loving and funny like – “You guys are crazy…at least it’ll grow out”. But, no….not me….I ruined it. And guess what? We lived through it. The holidays came and went, his hair grew back out, life went on.
It didn’t come to a screeching halt because my son shaved his head.
Another epic mom fail and tug at the old mom heartstrings regarding misplaced importance was when my middle child was sitting on the couch waiting for me to finish my chores so I could sit with him and watch The Lion King. He was around five years old and he was so excited. He’d told me earlier, “Mom, you HAVE to see this. It’s the best movie ever.” To which I replied that I’d be there “in just a minute”. But, that minute was more than a minute as I scurried around getting my household chores done……I can’t remember what I was cleaning that was so important. But, at the time it was of the utmost importance to “get my chores done first”.
So important. So very important. Right?
What I do remember is finally walking into the family room and seeing him asleep on the arm of the chair waiting for his “busy” mom to come snuggle and watch a movie with him.
What was so important that I couldn’t stop and go sit with him and snuggle and make him happy? It seemed to be a matter of life and death at the time, but like I said….I have no idea now.
But, what I do know is that it wasn’t important.
He was important, wanting to watch the movie with his mommy was important….not whatever it was that I thought I needed to do or clean or fold first. What I wish now is that I went right in…maybe with a bowl of popcorn and a blanket and sat down for good old mommy, son and movie time.
I’m sure there are more mom fails, but those are the two that have always tugged at my heartstrings and the ones that come to mind right now. All these years later. Let me assure you moms out there. The almighty attempt at perfection whether it be your kid’s hair, your chores…whatever….can be your downfall. Don’t try to be perfect. Don’t expect them to be perfect. Don’t expect your home to be perfect. And don’t expect them to think like you.
Just try to be there…..try to connect with their world…..instead of always expecting them to connect to yours. Know what I mean?
So all that reminiscing brings me to the main gist of my blog today…..and the silly things we fret over (hence the bald head). And, sadly that doesn’t always end when they grow up.
Take tattoos for instance.
I mean…..how do you feel about them? Yes, no, yay, nay???? And, be honest. Is it something you’re okay with or is it something that sends your hair on end at the mere thought of your kids doing such a thing…..even as adults? Well, we were the latter…..the parents who’s hair would stand up straight and skin would crawl at the thought of our kids getting a tattoo! I mean….how gauche! How nasty! How icky! Now in this case it was actually more my husband who was more appalled at the thought than me. I admit I absolutely did not like the idea of my kids dirtying up their bodies with a tat….but, I did have the sense that well….now they’re adults…they have the right to make their own decision. My husband took the stand that….if they really respected us as parents they simply would not do it.
Sound familiar?……All about me, me, me. Or I guess I should say us, us, us.
My son was 25, a daddy, a great man of God who was dedicated to his church, his community, serving the Lord any way he felt lead. And, he wanted a tattoo. He’d wanted one for years, but I think his dad’s disapproval held him at bay. Until one day he designed his own tattoo and decided to go for it. They had ask us to babysit on a Friday evening, but didn’t tell us what they were doing. When Katie, my daughter-in-law dropped off our granddaughter my hubs asked what their plans were. She looked a little surprised and said, “Ryan didn’t tell you?” No. “Well, I’ll let him tell you”, she said as she backed away, climbed into her car and drove off.
Well, hmmmmmmm……that had us baffled.
Until they texted a picture of him at the tattoo parlor getting a tattoo. Whaaaaaat!!!! A tattoooooo?!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!! I thought my husband was literally going to come unglued. Or steam was going to come out his ears…..something……anything to release his pure unadulterated anger at the mere thought. As they sent the progression pictures he started into an angry panic….saying it looked like a “freaking swastika”….and yelling, “they’ve messed it up”, “it’s too big”. He was literally pacing the floor in angst.
Well, guess what?
My son is now almost 35 and we lived through that, too.
Here we had a son we were so proud of….a hard worker, wonderful husband, amazing daddy, awesome Christian and we expected him not to get a tattoo, because that was our wish not his. I mean…what, whaaat? Who did we think we were? And why? Was it some sort of awful reflection on us if he got one? Did that mean we had failed as parents? And here’s the kicker…he designed the most meaningful tattoo. A cross to reflect his faith. But, not just any cross. Within the design of the cross is the nail that pierced Jesus’ hands, the dove…basically the story of Christ. Check out the picture below:
Do you see the dove at the very top? The nail at the very bottom?
But, oooooohhhh, it was still a tattoo! Boooooo!
I can honestly say that I got over it fairly quickly. There was just too much good involved to fuss about it anymore and what was done was done. It took my husband a lot longer to come to terms with it. But, he finally did. Totally and completely
And, then my daughter decided she wanted one, too. What, whaaaaaaaaa? NO! Not my daughter, too. But, that wasn’t all. What she wanted was a tattoo of my birth date on her foot and she wanted me to get a tattoo of her birth date on my foot. A sort of mother, daughter bonding thing when she turned 21. WHAAAAT? The answer was unequivocally NO! No, no, no! I was a professional….an interior designer after all….I couldn’t have a tacky little tattoo on my foot for heaven’s sake!!! I mean…what would people think?! And, she was going into the same profession! She didn’t need one either.
She worked on me for months and months and months. And finally I reluctantly agreed. As long as I could have it done in white which I thought was a much softer, bit more feminine alternative. Right? And, it would be fun right? Mother/daughter bonding – each other’s birth date on the other one’s foot. Sweet right? At least that’s what I tried to tell myself.
So my hubby, my daughter and I all decided to make a little day of it together. We would go to the tattoo parlor together and then grab a bite to eat. A little family togetherness and bonding over tattoo’s.
Only when we got there we discovered they wouldn’t do white anymore. It was no longer offered, because the white would fade. Well, that was fine by me. Fade away! No worries here I can assure you! But, it wasn’t even a possibility anymore – white wasn’t available even if I wanted it. At which I time I panicked and almost had a heart attack. I couldn’t have this bonding experience with my daughter – even after all this planning – if I had to have black ink. So we asked about the flesh color….which is a kind of pinkish color. They said they didn’t do those anymore either. Why? Because they didn’t show up well and customers were not happy. But, I’d be happy I explained! I didn’t care if it didn’t show up! Really! I wouldn’t! I was just having a bonding experience with my daughter. When they refused and I told my daughter that I didn’t think I could go through with it they finally relented and agreed to do it in a pink color….which was like a flesh tone.
Whew! So after seeing the color I agreed and off we went…..mother and daughter…..getting tattoos together.
My daughter got my birthday tattooed on her foot – 09/06/57
And, I got her birthday tattooed on my foot. 12/4/93. Yes, it’s a little blurry which is why they don’t like to do this particular color, but that’s okay with me.
So it was mother/daughter bonding time…..and is actually a sweet connection just between the two of us. I’m so glad I lightened up and did it! If I’m honest I have to admit I have felt a little judged by a few people for having done it, but guess what?? I DON’T CARE! This was something special between myself and my daughter and that’s all that matters.
When my father died, my daughter was deeply affected and wanted his birth date (January 2, 1934) tattooed on her arm in the form of time. He used to love telling everyone his birthday was 1234. Every time she would look up to glance at a clock she would see this displayed and she always felt like it’s his way of communicating with her. It still happens all the time. I’ve been with her several times when out of the blue she’ll say…..”Look what time it is”: 1234
No, we didn’t want her to get “another” tattoo. Was it really necessary???? But…..she’s an adult…..soooooo we let it go.
And guess what!?
We survived this to.
I can’t say we are a huge fan of multiple tattoos, but I can say we’ve learned to lighten up a bit and realize it’s not about us. Our kids are 34, 31 and 25. They’re all good, responsible adults with great jobs. They are all Christians who love the Lord. Their values and their hearts are in tact and they’re good people. It’s time to let go of our own “hang ups” and allow them to express themselves the way they choose.
I know some of my friends still don’t get it….and still look at it as tacky, tacky, tacky. But, that’s okay.
We’ve discovered the sky didn’t fall and life didn’t end. Our kids are still the same sweet people they were before and moving forward in their lives just fine.
My son-in-law has one in honor of his grandfather, and…..
My daughter-in-law has these arrows tattooed on her arm in honor of her children. This is based on the scripture Psalm 127: 3-5. “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them…” She has since added another child to the fold so there may be another arrow at some point. LOL.
We can’t always expect our kids to see the world through our eyes and they won’t be able to expect it of their children either. Every parent has to walk the walk themselves and learn and experience it along the way. And, most will have a few things they wish they could have done better. That’s just the way it is. But if this older Mimi could give one word of advice to you it would be to “lighten up”. Look at the world through their eyes. Get down to their age level and try to understand what is important to them. That doesn’t mean to say they get their way all the time when their young. Of course not. But, what it will do is help you to better consider the issue. You’ve heard the expression, “choose your battles”…..and that’s great advice! Let them be kids….let them enjoy being kids and doing things kids do…..even if it means shaving their head!
If they’re asking you to stop what you’re doing and come snuggle and watch a movie….my best advice is to stop and do it! Who cares about the chores???? See the world through the eyes of your child. Sit down, snuggle, engage with them and watch the movie.
The other expression you will hear over and over and over again is this….“Enjoy them while they’re young….it goes by so fast”. It gets to be the most redundant thing you will hear as a young parent. But, the reason you hear it all the time from older parents is because it’s so true!!!! Older moms like me just want you to grasp this truth! Young parents please listen to us old folks!! Let us impart to you just a little bit of the wisdom that comes with age.
See the world through their eyes now and then, stop for minute, snuggle. Don’t expect them to be mini-you’s. Let them enjoy some fun fads that maybe you “don’t get”. Show them some grace and don’t take everything so seriously and as if it’s a direct reflection on you. Let them be the sweet little unique, individual creatures the Lord created them to be.
And, definitely enjoy them while their young, because it really does go by so fast!