I’m having a rough month emotionally. Completely coincidentally, my three oldest kids left home within a few weeks of each other. (This photo is the morning my daughter moved into the dorms.) I find tears welling up in my eyes for no real reason, lately, missing my kids and feeling nostalgic. We also sold our home and are renting it for the rest of the year before we move. So much change!
It’s just me and 13-year old Tennyson now. My older friends tell me to relax—the kids come back, they say. (They come back maybe too much, they say.)
But Tennyson, youngest in a large family, and I are a little…..unmoored.
Why is there so much FOOD in the fridge? I don’t know how to buy or cook for two.
Tennyson crawls in my king-sized bed at night. He does his homework next to me in my home office. Where the heck IS everybody, we both are thinking.
Then I have this text exchange with Emma yesterday, who is safely ensconced in her dorm room at college, which she is LOVING.
Em: Mom, funny story. I have this friend—she’s totally skinny, cheerleader, but she was eating a salad in the cafeteria today and said, “This lettuce is so cool, what IS IT?” And I told her, “Uhhh, really? It’s SPINACH.” She freaked out and called her mom and said, “MOM! I JUST ATE RAW SPINACH!”
Em: I can’t imagine how she’s gone 18 years without tasting spinach or even knowing what it looks like.
Em: Mom, thanks for feeding me spinach.
(Did you read that? MOM, THANKS FOR FEEDING ME SPINACH.)
OMG. I can die happy now. She wrote that, and I had the sappiest grin on my face for hours. Thinking back on all the tantrums and hard times being the Bad Guy. My oldest son, who is 20, told his siblings right before he moved into an apartment with his friends, “I totally get it why Mom cracked down on me every year about my grades. She is the only reason I graduated high school. Now I am so grateful.”
Stuff like this is coming out of my two oldest kids’ mouths on a regular basis these days.
I got teary on the way to play tennis this morning, thinking again about that text from Emma. I arrived at my tennis practice to play against an opponent with a 32 oz. Diet Mountain Dew, who says her first Mountain Dew starts at 7 a.m. every morning. She’s totally skinny, too. That doesn’t really tell the whole story, does it? What if I’d modeled and provided that diet to my kids, with all the strikes mine had against them when they were born? I get chills thinking about it. Because at my lectures, I meet people ALL THE TIME who fed their kids the S.A.D. even though the kids were born sick—because they didn’t know any better. And I hear their stories of reaping the whirlwind.
Tennyson came home from school later that same day:
Ten: Mom, teachers always like me. Except, I have this one teacher who DOESN’T. I saw him drinking a green smoothie, so I went up to him and said, “My mom is GreenSmoothieGirl.”
Me, laughing: Yeah? And how’d that go for you?
Ten: He just looked at me. Then he said, “No. Your name isn’t Openshaw. That’s her name.”
Me: And you told him your parents are divorced?
Ten: Yeah. So the teacher dragged me over to his desk. GreenSmoothieGirl.com was in his bookmarks. He started watching your youtube videos, with me in them. He’d look at the screen, at me, back at the screen, back at me. Till he figured out—it’s really me in those videos!
Ten: He likes me now! It’s awesome!
Bonding over green smoothies. There are worse kinds of brown-nosing, right?
What is the moral of this story? Parents, have some delay of gratification, and stick to values that matter to you. You’re going to get A LOT COOLER LATER. Eating healthy in 2013 is a lot cooler now than it used to be!