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Cats' Corners: the little HOUSE in the woods....
Where House is NEVER safe...
Minimalist Mothering [personal entry] 
7th-Dec-2008 12:07 pm
Bah, humbug.

Christmas will not be cancelled this year; nor will it be postponed.  No matter how much I might wish to go to bed tonight, and awaken tomorrow morning to discover that it is January 5th, it's not gonna happen.

But there are several other things that have also not been happening--and are not going to happen--in this household, this year.

Several months ago, several things happened in my life almost simultaneously:  I decided it was time to quit smoking; I turned fifty years old; I went off Premarin, thus throwing myself into instant menopause; my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer; my sweet little boy turned, overnight, into a Giant, Attitudinal Hormone.  And, somewhere along in all of this mess, I became depressed, and my right leg became worse, and my pain meds became virtually ineffective.

It was at that point that I, a Helicopter Parent [hovering mama] from way back, inadvertently discovered what was, for me, a new style of parenting; I call it Minimalist Mothering, and it is defined as doing just enough.  Just enough cleaning to keep the Health Department at bay.  Just enough grocery shopping that the Kid can always locate a Toaster Scramble for breakfast, a frozen meal for supper.  Just enough laundry that we don't have to go out and buy new underwear once a week.  And just enough grounding and discipline and yelling and crying  and hugging and loving and cheering that the Kid remembers--occasionally--that there's also a Mom living in his house.

This Christmas, Minimalist Mothering dictates that I will not be driving myself crazy trying to create the warmest, cleanest, most welcoming home in town--you know, the home that always smells of crisp pine needles and freshly baked sugar cookies?  I will be happy if I can keep the smell of the senile-old-cat-shit down to a dull roar.  And there will be no scent of pine because this year, there is going to be no Christmas tree--and the only cookies you'll find in this house will come from the Publix bakery--if I happen to be passing the bakery counter on my way to the Frozen Meals of Convenience and Neglectful Parenting.

Some traditions will be kept.  I will make my annual obscenely large donation to Journey's End, a worthwhile organization for aged, homeless, and disabled former family pets who have been abandoned. [Except for the children, we don't buy gifts in my family; we each donate to the charity of our choice.] And I will purchase for my son a few obscenely expensive electronic gadgets and accessories, about which he will give Not. One. Whit. but which will enable him to brag and look cool in front of his peers.

I will also join with a small portion of my family on Christmas Day, to eat lasagna [provided by the catering department of a local restaurant, and I'd much prefer turkey, myself--and a family who puts a little more 'fun' into 'dysfunctional', but ah well....]] and count our blessings.  The way I see it, my family's biggest blessing is that we get to keep my mom for another Christmas--and perhaps many more, as it appears she was surgically cured.  And my own biggest blessing is that I made it to age 50 without ever once not having a Christmas tree in a warm, inviting house that had been transformed into a Wonderland for the month of December.  Yes, my own Biggest Blessing is that I've never experienced being the child of a Minimalist Mom.

My child deserves more from me this Christmas.  More than the latest electronic games, more than the coolest jeans and athletic shoes.  My child deserves everything I had when I was his age.

Maybe... just maybe... i could pop an extra pain pill and venture one trip up the stairs?  Just to bring down the creche, the candles, a few ornaments... and the Christmas tree?

12th-Dec-2008 08:01 pm (UTC)
I am not a parent, but I do know how it feels to have a Minimalist Mother and I assure you, the fact that you wrote this post at all removes you from anywhere near my experiences with mine. I won't go into detail, but the fact that your son sees you on a regular basis outside your bedroom and not with the express purpose of reaming you out for something ELSE he's done to displease you or what have you, alone scores you many points. The fact that you are considering any of this at all scores you even more points. I don't know how to explain exactly how it feels to be told explicitly that I am to blame for every bit of tension in my mother's household, but the fact that I see none of that here tells me you are not a Minimalist Mom -- and by Minimalist, I also include taking responsibility for the way your life has played out whether you liked it or not, among other things.

Um, I really don't mean to sound like I'm demeaning my mother, though that is exactly how she would take it if she ever saw this comment, but she honestly makes me feel hated. I really, really don't like having to explode with pain in my journal because it's impossible to do so in real-life because she'll deny absolutely everything. Trying to explain that I don't hate my father because he makes me feel like a person doesn't wash well with either my mother or my sister because they are the type to hold a grudge and then visit its grave. I can't help but forgive when I can because I just can't hold onto something after it's been apologized for -- truly and sincerely instead of 'I'm sorry you feel that way'. I cannot hold onto something when after we argue, my father and I hug. He asks me what I like to do and if I have fun doing it. My mother used to stare at me when I was stimming like I was a zoo exhibit. She's stopped that, for which I'm infinitely thankful, but there's still a long way to go and it doesn't feel at all like she cares to even try beyond saying that I'm the one destroying our relationship.

My point is that I don't see any of that here. I see you trying to make Dakota's Christmas a happy one instead of threatening to send a letter to Santa telling him not to come to our house like my mother did when my sister and I were small. I don't see you using what should be healthy emotional contact as a punishment. Your description of Dakota's view of his Christmas reminds me of the character Jazmine from The Boondocks. Whenever I rewatch the episode, 'Tom, Sarah, and Usher', I'm absolutely appalled at the way she completely disregards her father's presence in her life and cares more about the fact that Usher and his bodyguards are beating her father half to death ("I'm sorry, USSSSSHHHHHERRR!") than that Tom's fear was that his wife was leaving him for another man. Jazmine only cared about her idea that Usher might be her 'new daddy', which I find absolutely reprehensible, but I suppose it's my experience that makes me feel that way.

Maybe it's normal to completely take your parents for granted. I've never felt that and Parent bless all the kids who do. I'm going off on a tangent, but I wanted to let you know that all things considered, you're doing a spectacular job and if Dakota doesn't realize it now, he certainly will when he's older. If he graduates Valedictorian from high school and/or college -- really, it could happen -- you'll be at the top of the list of whom he'll thank. And he'll know it.