Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mommy the Big Fat Hypocrite

Not that I believe I have too many loyal, day-to-day followers, but just in case anyone noticed, I'd like to mention that I said in "Mama Don't Raise No Sissies" that I don't come out so good in my next blog. But then I got diverted and sentimental and wrote "Living the Dream." So this blog is the Part Two in which I defame myself -- which you may or may not have been waiting for. And Julie and friends, this one's for you.

Sophia and I were in the calicoes section of Joann Fabric and Crafts not too long ago, and she asked me to buy her a new fat quarter (for non-quilters, that's a quarter yard, cut square, and sold for about two bucks).

"No, I'm not buying you anymore fabric," I told her. "You haven't made anything with the last piece of fabric I gave you."

Suddenly, self-awareness hit me like a wave. How much fabric do I have sitting at home right now, and here I am buying more. See the picture above. I'm counting 14 boxes of fabric in my laundry room/sewing studio. Hubby, who sees that stash every day, often asks me, "What are you going to do with that?" when I buy some new tempting textile. My response is usually, "I don't know. It's just so pretty."

Here's the truth: Mommy is a big fat hypocrite. There are tons of thiings I tell the kids to do that I do not do. And I'm talking, really bad habits I have, that I actually lecture them for.

Some examples:

* "How hard is it to put your shoes away when you take them off?" Okay, I always have AT LEAST three pairs of shoes lying around downstairs. One at the back door. One at the front door. One under my computer desk. And possibly one under the kitchen table or next to my favorite spot on the couch.

* "Put your clothes away as soon as you take them off!" There is a pile next to my dresser of discarded clothes. All. The. Time.

* "Stop leaving your clothes on the bathroom floor!" Hmm. There are my undies from this morning, right next to the shower.

* "Put your dishes in the sink when you're finished with them!" Every morning, my husband says he has to pick up my plate from my late-night TV snack off the living room floor. Also, there is typically a dirty coffee cup on my vanity in my bedroom and possibly also on the bathroom counter if I had to blow dry my hair the day before.

* "No snacks right before dinner!" As mommy pops an Oreo in her mouth as she stirs the soup when no one is looking.

* "If you take a ton of stuff with you wherever you go, you are going to lose things!" Jeff has actually forbid me to buy anymore portable coffee cups because I leave them everywhere: Target, the park, someone's display table at the flea market. I've blogged at least twice this year about how many things I lose.

So here's my self-justification, in three parts:

1. I am the one who cleans, tidies and organizes our house. So, I'm allowed to make a mess: it's my house. And I'm allowed to be cranky when people lose things or don't pick up after themselves, because I, not they, will pay the consequences. If I leave my shoes around, no one else is going to pick them up. I will do it eventually. (The exception is my snack plate, which apparently Jeff does pick up).

2. I'm a disorganized person in the small things! I can barely keep track of my own things, which is why I need my kids to take care of theirs. (This really actually sounds more like a condemnation than justification, doesn't it?)

3. At least I'm not too much of a hypocrite when it comes to the moral things I'm trying to emphasize, which really counts. Like, I don't tell them to tell the truth, and then turn around and tell lies -- black or white -- right in front of them. I am scrupulously truthful. I don't hit people. I give money to the poor. I share my toys. I say please and thank you (most of the time). I say I'm sorry when I've done something wrong. Like right now. Girls: I'm sorry I lecture you about being messy when I myself am messy.

And here is one more thing to make me feel better. I've noticed a principle in parenting: Outcomes are hard to judge. Some parental traits will be passed down verbatim. In other ways, kids will do just the opposite of whatever their parents do. I cook just like my mom used to, I dress like her, and I believe that doing what you love is way more important than doing something lucrative -- just like she does.

But, my mom was always late to things when we were kids, and I think that's why I am compulsively punctual; I hated arriving to things stressed and out of breath when I was younger. Also, my sweet mom still has all our baby pictures in shoe boxes, and I rarely take a picture that doesn't end up printed and in an album within a week.

So, it's possible that my daughters could keep all my good traits, and reject all my bad ones! Wouldn't that be fantastic? It's possible that though at ages 3 and 7, my girls leave their shoes around and buy more fabric than they can use, they will grow up to be extremely tidy and never buy a thing they don't need. And then on the other hand, I'm praying with all my heart that the good they see in me -- any generosity or creativity or faith or hope or love -- plants seed, takes root and blossoms bigger, sweeter, better than it ever was in me. If my good Father brings that to fruition in my children, they can leave their underwear on the floor and eat sweets before dinner as much as they want.

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