Monday, March 30, 2009
I knew I’d never have her patience, role models part II
But it was at least something that I could set as a goal. Points for trying right? As I watched Tabitha interact with her children I saw what a mother was supposed to be. I had never really seen it before. My mother, from as far back as I could remember, had no patience with me. She would tell me I was mean. That I was a mean mean child and no one liked me because I was so mean and I didn’t socialize well. Can you see the vicious circle with this one? Tell this to a 5 yr old and they are going to be terrified to socialize. They are told they are a mean child that no one wants to play with well then they aren’t very likely to have the self confidence to go out and make friends now are they? So this was the example I had growing up. I didn’t go over to other kid’s houses much, my parents chose to raise me in a beach community. Partying college crowd had few to no children so I was limited in selection. There for I had no other parenting role models. When I started to hang around Tabitha more and more often I got to see her interact with her children and as much as she said her parents were less than stellar (and I’m sure they were) they must have either a) had a helluva lot more parenting skills than my mother or b) Tabitha somewhere in herself had the patience of an angel. I have no proof but I’m betting on the latter. We all have our shortcomings but as far as I’m concerned if you can be an awesome parent then you’ve made it in the world. And if you fail completely due to lack of trying you are a total waste of oxygen.
Tabitha would be with her son (the oldest) and he’d be wild or crazy and she’d just calmly talk him down. She didn’t chase him like a dog that got out, there were no threats of beatings, and even better, no insults. She’d always tell them that she loved them and hug them or kiss them or even better both. My first look at positive reinforcement parenting. Did I ever tell you guys that I (like my crazy dog) don’t like being touched? And no, my mother didn’t love on me, she didn’t let me sit next to her and snuggle, she’d get up and leave. I didn’t realize this until my dad told it to me like a few years ago. He was the only one I snuggled with because he was the only one that was willing to do it. To this day, even when getting off the phone, if I don’t say I love you to my mom she won’t. Sometimes I even surprise her like she doesn’t want to say it back but does so grudgingly. I stopped telling her that, no need to lie. In Tabitha I saw what people were supposed to do, love their children. So odd to me at that time. I didn’t dislike children back then, I just didn’t know what people were supposed to do with them. My dad was a love but the negative from my mom was so much more prominent. Poor dad, his mom didn't want to have kids either so he didn't have it much better growing up.
Regardless it was through these little bits of interactions that I saw what parenting should be like. You should be happy to have a child in your life, they are supposed to bring you joy at least some of the time. I knew she had it rough and at times it was very trying with school so it’s not like I’m saying it was all fun and roses. I knew they tried her patience daily, as did her husband (don't worry Trailboss, she eventually left that moron). The difference was that I never ever saw her lose her patience and take it out on them. That’s a rarity. We lose our patience all the time with the kid. We try not to, more now than ever but still, it’s hard. I don’t know how she came up with all that patience at that young age. She was in her early 20’s, I didn’t have patience with myself at that age. What little bits I learned from her are invaluable to me today. I think they gave me hope too, that if she could have crappy parents and be such a parenting success I too could get over the pathetic role model my mom was for me, look only at what my dad gave me, learn a bit of patience, and move on.
By the time I finally became a parent it was not due to a planned decision but keeping my baby was. And for that little insight I was given I will always be thankful. I will never have Tabitha’s patience but it is something I strive for. I don’t always succeed but such is life. As parents you are rarely going to 100% right, aiming for it is the best you can do.
These are her 3 kids now, I only met the oldest 2. Her youngest was born the year I left Maryland. It goes from oldest to youngest left to right, it was the youngest's b-day in this pic.
This is how the oldest 2 looked when I left MD. It's been awhile.