mom of boys

Parenting Win & Dad’s Death Anniversary

One of my sons brought home a note from the office today. This would not be the first time I’ve received communication from the office. When they started kindergarten I had to rapidly adjust my expectations around office and teacher communications. See, I was used to me. I was always smart and I loved learning. I also was incredibly obedient. Well, not always, like if I thought a teacher was inappropriate or mean or discriminatory…then I was a total ass. But I felt in a very self righteous way that I was justified in my asshole-ness. Still sorta do. It was rare. But it happened.

I also was not always “good” but I never got caught. I mean for the big stuff. I flew under the radar with my rebellious stuff. My sons are smart, however they did not get the obedient, quiet, fly under the radar gene. One of them is actually super obedient…but when he does do something wrong he tells on himself. My other one is not obedient and has that self righteous attitude that he is right…all the time. He is essentially my mini-me but he’s me on steroids.

Long story short…I’ve gotten my fair share of office communication since month one of kindergarten.

So today, as they walked in with a note from the office I steeled myself for whatever was about to happen. But then I read it. It was a “Positive Office Referral”. It then listed his positive qualities with a hand written note from his teacher about how incredible he is. It was signed by the principal (who I have spoken to multiple times) and apparently his name was announced in the announcements as being a stand-up kid. You could have pushed me over with a feather.

It’s not that I don’t know my kids are great kids. I know they are. They are sweet and kind and sensitive…but they are also twin boys with minimal self regulation. And you ever just need a win? March sucked. It was long, cold, my clients were a mess, and I had epic work stress. There was also parent teacher conferences in addition to two other discussions about behaviors. I needed a win. That 8×11″ white pre-printed certificate is getting freaking framed. Because I have accepted this may be the first and last time I get a love note from their principal.

This parenting thing is tough. I send these two kids out in the world every day just hoping they will keep it together, keep their hands off other kids and each other, be kind, not get hurt, not get shot, and grow into decent young men. I receive a lot of negative feedback as a single parent from society. It’s a lot easier to address the intermittent negatives than the many frequent positives. It was a reminder that I am doing a good job. That these kids are good kids. It was a win. In single parenting it feels like the wins are few and far between. So it felt good.

It also happened on the eve of my Dad’s fourth death anniversary. It was four years ago tomorrow that I watched my three year old sons run around his yard as he took in his last hours on earth. One of my sons came in a left a purple flower on his hand at one point. My Dad waited until everyone left except my mom and I, and I gave him what would be his last dose of pain meds (home hospice), and I whispered, “It’s okay dad, you can go, we’ll be okay.” He died about ten minutes later. I thought of that today when I was hugging my son. I told my dad we’d be okay. Some days it hasn’t felt okay. Some days have felt fucking horrible. But as we move further past his death, and further into the lives of my kids, it feels more okay.

Since he died I got divorced, grew a practice, got a dog, made new friends, moved on from some old friends, and every time I do something I think about him. I think what would Dad say about this? Wouldn’t Dad laugh at this? I started quilting and I thought my Dad would be all over this; he would have helped me cut out all the squares. He’d love my dog. And he’d be totally into my sons. Everything about them.

My Dad drove me nuts in a lot of ways. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. But what I’m learning as the parent now is that my kids should have hard times with me. There should be consequences for bad behavior and there should be difficult memories along with the happy ones. Because it’s the hard times that make the good times so sweet. It’s how we recover from hard that matters.

I’m four years into the awful club of people who have lost a parent. It feels like I have paid my dues and come to a level of acceptance. The grief is less intense and less frequent. But it’s still a shitty club.

So here’s to you Dad. We are okay. And even on days we aren’t…I know we will be. I still wish you were here and I’d give just about anything for one more hug, one more conversation and one more random piece of information that you likely just made up. I remember walking on the beach with you when I was 23, and I asked you why you never talked about Vietnam. You said, “Oh, that was before. Before you and your Mom and your sister. You guys are my life now. That was then. You guys are all that matters.” At the time I was disappointed. I wanted to know more. But now I get it. And I’m grateful that we were your everything.

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