Okay, I Give Up

The life I give my boys is an outside-of-the-box kind of normal.  Our house is lovingly referred to as “The Pit Stop” as we are rarely there and when we are, it’s to sleep and grab a shower and perhaps a few Z’s before we head out the door again.  My erratic work and writing hours revolve around the boys’ equally erratic hours, shaped by their activities and sports.  And the time that we actually spend at home, we spend together, yet apart.  We have vastly different interests and temperments – I’m a hummingbird on speed, my oldest a little faster than a snail, and my youngest, somewhere in between.

I love reading, writing, exercising, yardwork…my boys don’t.

They adore Skyrim and Zelda…I don’t.

My oldest enjoys making decadent desserts.  My youngest enjoys eating decadent desserts…I don’t, on either count.

My oldest and I love watching movies…my youngest doesn’t.

My youngest and I love hiking…my oldest doesn’t.

That being said, I’ve tried to reverse things a bit and make it “normal,” but failed miserably every time, ignoring the fact that when I’d tried to do what other mothers and fathers did with their family lives, it felt wrong for me, felt wrong for us.

I’ve pushed the boys on eating habits, on school, teen-tude behavior, and all I got was a big shove back.  Not fun for either party involved.

Although rules and regulations are set in place, I gave up on trying to “be normal.”  And it was freeing, because I didn’t have to pretend anymore.  But skipping not too far behind that freedom was its annoying friend – guilt.  I thought I had it all figured out when I wrote the Girl Power post, but I still found myself looking at all of my friends, wondering if I was off base.  Shouldn’t I be playing board games or something?

I realized that trying to do what is “right”, for me anyway, is a lot like being a kite.  Flying freely, yet anchored by the shoulds of the string, I’d feel “normal” and “accepted.”

But when the kite string is released, the more visible my free falling or “different” behavior is. While it’s kind of cool to do the rebel yell thing, there is a moment of ahh…damn…should I really be doing this?

I’ve come to the conclusion certain things aren’t going to happen – it just doesn’t work for us, no matter how hard I try.   So one day after sweeping up the pieces of my latest attempts, I sat the boys down and said, “Listen.  There is no ‘normal’ here.  Our routine is just what happens as the day unfolds.  We may not bond over playing catch, but we can bond while we do the Warrior Dash.  I may not bake at Christmas time, but I’ll share a box of Oreo cookies with you.  I’ll even be there for you if you want a tattoo.  You know how completely unorthodox I am…”

My oldest had stopped me and said, “We know, Mom.  We like you that way.”

*Happy dance*  They know I love them, and that is the glue that keeps us together.  But then again, it could have been the Double Stuff Oreo cookies…

About Diana Murdock

California-grown, writer of contemporary and YA paranormal with enough energy to write, raise two boys, run, and dream.

Posted on January 20, 2012, in Family, Growing Up, kites, Parents, Personal, Teenager, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Hahahahaha I so hear you. I have unorthodox parents too! Except on the tattoo part (cough cough), we adopted a very strange routine that stays true to us, and that other people don’t necessarily understand. But does it matter? You already decided you wouldn’t be part of the mold, so why would you subject your kids to that mold torture BS? No way. It’s your family, your freedom, your rules. The rest can go down the toilet.

    Great post as always. 🙂

  2. I thought I was the only one who had a different kind of “normal”! Thank you for sharing your experience with others!

  3. Whatever works for the three of you is your normal. Your boys have just validated that. Keep doing what you do, Diana. You sound like a wonderful mother!

  4. Ah, I love this! I am woefully allergic to anything ‘normal’ in most areas of my life, and when it comes to childrearing, I wish we could view ‘normal’ instead as a set of conventions that fit some, but not all, personalities and lifestyles. I’m lucky enough to have a mom who has always had a hard time fitting the mold, and while I spent a few years feeling weird that my friends’ households didn’t look like mine, these days I’m grateful for it. So do what works for you, especially if it makes all of you happy. 😀

  5. You are a fabulous mother and it doesn’t mean that you have to “follow the crowd”.
    Do what feels natural to all of you and stay beautifully unorthodox! Your boys love you the way you are, sis.

  6. Normal?!?!? What the heck is that? Lord. I’ve long come to realize there is no such thing. It’s all a matter of perspective. It sounds like you guys have your own rhythm worked out that rocks for everyone and THAT’s what counts! Who wants to fit into a box? Life and color outside the lines my friend!!!

  7. Your true-to-life and very funny blog reminds me of the writings of Erma Bombeck, the great humorist columnist of years gone by. I agree with your conclusion: the best parenting of all is that which comes from being who you are, even it is not “normal.” When love is there, it comes through no matter what.

  8. There is no normal anymore as families are not as conventional as they used to be. I agree with my dad, as long as your kids know you are there for them, that’s all that matters. The fact that you even do a check in with them as to what you’re thinking is HUGE to me. Being a teacher, I see negligence all over the place with students who just want to be loved and acknowledged and are simply ignored. It breaks my heart. I also think that if you bond with your kids-great! If you’re all together but doing different things-great! They really just want to know you’re around for them, like a security blanket. I found that out over time. Kids have their own agenda and it’s probably NOT hangin’ with the parents. 😉 You’re amazing!

  9. Normal can so often be fake. Genuine and unorthodox is much better. 🙂

  10. When my kids were young we lived in a “normal” neighborhood, great schools, etc, etc, and there were times when I felt like I should be “doing” more. The day I realized my kids were happy with things just the way they were and “more” meant intruder was kind of scary. Now thanks to your post and looking back I think the scary comes from asking ourselves over and over “Am I doing this right?”

    Hey, kind of like writing! I just realized we have a motherhood editor Diana!

    Back to your post..:) we think we ask the question because we want to know our kids are ok, that they feel loved, that they have guidelines, that we’re helping them grow to be decent adults and contributing members of our society. Lots of “normal” people in my old neighborhood had all the trappings of normal but there were plenty who didn’t do what you’re doing right now for your kids. Like someone else said, there is no normal. Seriously. Tell the Mom Editor to attach herself to one of those kites. Congratulate yourself for getting feedback from them! That’s huge from preteens and teens and especially boys. You’re a great Mom and your kids know it AND they’re willing to tell you so. That’s just not normal. Good for you!!!!!!! Yippee for them!!!!

    Now I have this strange craving for Oreos…

  11. I love this!! You have to find and embrace YOUR normal!
    I truly don’t believe that the concept of ‘normal’ exists. Whatever works for you and your family is exactly what you should do.
    And when you model acceptance of yourself and your ‘normal’ they’ll know that they don’t have to fit into a mold or sense of what they ‘should’ be. They can just…BE.
    You sound like a fantastic mom raising boys that are very self aware of just who they are. 🙂

  12. Wait a minute, a post with Zelda AND Billy Idol in it? Awesome! You are totally my favorite person right now.

    What’s normal, anyway? My normal isn’t your normal and both of our normals are NO WAY my sister’s normal (thank the universe for that gift!!). But I totally get you. While we’re trying to be the best mom/dad/whatever that we can be, we kind of forget to just BE. Your kids would wilt with any other mother because they love you just the way you are. So what if you don’t bake cookies ~ that’s what your oldest is for! Hey, take what little gifts you can. If your oldest doesn’t like to hike, then that’s a special thing for just you and the youngest. You don’t have to be all things to all people, but you do have to be authentic to yourself.

  13. I joke with my family that I’m going to sign us up for Wife Swap- then they will appreciate me!

    • Funny! Actually I did have an opportunity to do that and so I sent them a picture of the family and why I wanted to do it- I thought it would be fun – the $20,000 they offered didn’t hurt my decision, though. They wanted to interview me, but my then husband chickened out at the last minute. HA! I wonder what that would have been like!

  14. Let’s face it, we are no longer living in the time of Dick and Jane or the Cleavers. We just have to find our own “normal” and ignore the people who would make us ashamed of whatever that turns out to be.

    When is comes to child-rearing, I try to instill qualities in my kids that will help them to succeed and function in society. Things like manners and respect. The Golden Rule is also a favorite of mine and I am always using examples of how the girls would feel if they had to be treated like how they treated someone else.

    When it all boils down, we are just the parents. We give them a foundation and hope they can stand on it when they go out into the world. But, we also have to consider that they are ours only temporarily and someday they will make their own choices based on who they are or chose to be. One day they will decide if the precepts we give them are worth keeping and passing on to the next generation, or if they need to find their own “normal.”

    Oh, and Diana, you can tell your oldest he can send me your share of the decadent desserts he makes. Yum!

  15. See. You are more normal than you think, Diana. My wife and I have raised three great kids and if you’re not asking the, Am I doing the right thing? question then somethings not right.

    By the time kids are 12 their value system is in place. Oh, they may wander from time to time but they will return to lesson taught by parents. Love is the key and in todays world education is near the tops too. Freedom of choices and seeing the results of those choices make them leaders in their world to come.

    You have no need to be normal. They know your heart and that knowing will guide them.

  16. Very sweet. What is normal, anyway?
    My boys are 14 and 17. I just don’t want to spend so much time on this laptop that I finally glance up and find that they have both grown up and left the nest.


  17. We don’t do ‘normal’ in my house either. I don’t think normal really even exists. It’s what some people pretend to be on the outside but on the inside, they are far more messed up than the rest of us embracing life to the beat of our own drums for all the world to see. 😉

  18. You are teaching your children a valuable lesson, probably the most valuable they will ever learn:

    Be True to yourself, feel comfortable in your own skin, and love who you are. “Who the hell wrote the book on what is normal? I’d love to read it!”, Diana Murdock asked me about 3 years ago when I questioned life changing decisions (that were apparently not normal to some of my family members). She continued to tell me of Dara Torres, a 41 year old Olympic swimmer who everyone said she was too old to be in the Olympics. Well, that old geezer Dana made Olympic history when she competed FIRST, against 20 year olds! Yay Dana!

    Best advice EVER Snooby! xoxo

  19. I have two boys and I bond with them very well outdoors or in front of a game console. Questions outside of their interest and the response will be short & simple. My wife tries to instill some habitual discipline, but it stays in them only during her presence. You are correct, boys will like just by the way you are, and they will continue to do so.

  20. I don’t think there’s any such thing as normal.
    The parents I’ve seen signing their kids up for all kinds of after school activities that are the parents’ dream or ideas, and not the kids, are going to get a severe backlash at some point.
    Every person is different. Families are a complicated dynamic of different people and experiences.
    Parents sometimes fail to see their child as another person. Or are so selfish, rigid and dogmatic that they can’t. This leads to a lot of conflict, abuse, neglect and unhappiness.

    Flexibility and adaptability are a good thing to learn at home and useful in the real world.

  21. Diana, didn’t we all agree already that “SHOULD” is a very nasty word?!

    There is no normal when it comes to family – a counselor I respect said, “Love them and be consistent (whatever that is to you particularly) and it will all turn out fine. Sounds like he’s right. 🙂

  22. Tradition can be an inspiration to some, but for me, I love the freedom from it, the freedom to live in the moment … but I sometimes offended folks unintentionally. I agree with Jenny … every time we use the term “should” we need to search our hearts and see if there is any truth to the internal prodding. And “should” for the benefit of whom?

    My three grown daughters didn’t have “normal” but they love me so much, and now are teaching me neat things about life. Maybe one of the lessons they learned was how to forgive mama! I most certainly learned how to forgive myself for any perceived shortcomings, true or not because I knew I was doing the best job of being Mom that I could muster, even though it fell short. Good lessons in life!

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