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One, Two, Buckle My Shoe…no really…Mamma needs help

With Mother’s Day upon us, I decided to throw the ultimate motherly test at my three darlings…so I tore a disc in my lower back. I know what you are thinking: THAT is one dedicated self-sacrificing mother! Well, I do what I can. So, in a heroic effort to show my children just how important I, their mother, really am and how much I do for them, I have partially benched myself. Ok…it wasn’t really a voluntary benching…more of a my-mind-is-young-and-still-discovering-the-joys-of-ever-more-challenging-athletic-activities-with-which-my-slightly-older-body-may-not-necessarily-comply benching, or maybe it was just an I-went-to-bed-and-in-the-middle-of-the-night-my-back-went-on-strike thing…I’m really not sure. Anyway, it will be both a test of Team Offspring’s readiness to step up and a reminder to Team Parents of where I/we can and need to back off a little.

Of course, given the fact that I am human and the proud mother of three young ones of various ages who often travel in different germ pools, there have been other opportunities to run this very same test over the years. To be perfectly honest, so far it has not gone all that well. Up to now, aside from the occasional breakfast in bed (complete with utterly destroyed kitchen) and genuine looks of sympathy in their young soulful eyes when I have been the one with, say… the flu, a migraine, or a sprained ankle, these occasions have mostly reminded me of those episodes of Wild Kingdom when Marlin Perkins would narrate over dramatic music, while predators circled the injured or sickly antelope as it desperately limped through the grasslands. Except, in these cases, at the end of the illness or injury, the antelope would have to then drag itself back up onto its feet and wander about attempting to salvage what was left of its habitat while trying not to step on legos.

This time, however, I am confident! So confident, in fact, that I decided to up the ante and throw in a puppy! Yes, a puppy! This will be the test of all tests! And though, not wanting my old lady back to be the reason we couldn’t follow through and get the puppy we had been discussing and agonizing over was part of the reason we now have little Dante, mostly it was for my test.

Why this fresh, new optimism, you ask? It might be in part because Little Man has been steadily moving from the whine-and-scream-when-asked-to-do-something phase to more of a reason-and-try-to-talk-his-way-out-of-doing-things one, tending more and more to spar with logic (albeit his version of logic) and words rather than with volume. This little step in maturity allows for us to have conversations about what needs to get done and for him to independently use his powers of observation for good (as in noticing that I need some help), instead of simply using them to note such things as, for example, that much like the Indian rhinoceros, my hands seem to have acquired more wrinkles which obviously means that they now have armor-like qualities…

Perhaps it is also because lately my Moon and my Sun, aka The Sisters, have been collaborating a little more and plotting each other’s demise a little less. They have even finally agreed to sing a duet for me…in public! Not that I have never heard them sing together before, but generally it is through a closed door…which I then have to open once they start arguing about who missed what note. And though the song they wish to perform is about how much they loathe each other…it is still a harmonious work of cooperation and this particular loathing warms my heart.

Whatever it is, my end goal is to help Team Offspring transform into Team Siblings…and I am starting to see some progress, which gives me confidence that they will pass this test. I am also trying not to take it too personally when this team butts heads with my own Team Parents. Sometimes it is simply a way to let me know that they need a little less mothering and a little more hands-off parenting. And this transition is much easier for me when I know that they have each other. Of course, this does not mean I am at all close to giving any of them carte blanche… I am not insane and this internet web linked world often seems to be. That is where the puppy comes in. Aside from being an adorable, floppy, bundle of happiness (a euphemism for energy), he is part of a secret parental strategy and has been drawing them outside to play more, thus curbing their thirst for internet access (which they can only get through me…pester, pester), as well as bringing them together to take on the responsibilities of feeding, training, and walking him.

And so this Mother’s Day, as I sit against a heating pad on my sofa, I find myself reflecting on this new stage of motherhood. Yes, I still have to nag them to clean their rooms, remind them to get their homework done, and break up spats between them, but things have become much more conversational and a little less confrontational. And most importantly…at times like these…when I am sitting here with sciatic pain shooting down my side, trying to figure out how the freaking heck I am going to get my socks and shoes on, I know that I can count on them to help me out and to step up to do for themselves the things I would generally do for them…

Happy Mother’s Day!

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