A Short Quenching Of Trepidation

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I often worry about what kind of mother I will be. The thought of raising children half as troublesome as I was, disturbs me. The idea of being a good parent and letting my children make mistakes, yet, having my stamp of parenting on them, scares me senseless. My father has set a rather daunting standard. He was, and still is, an excellent parent. He guides, but does not dictate. He counsels, but does not command. He loves, but does not smother. He is funny, smart and charming. He used revolutionary parenting techniques and equipped us with tools for life. In short--his excellence in parenting has left me scared beyond belief to be a parent. Will I ever measure up?

However, this weekend, I also got a tiny taste of how rewarding it can be.

Saturday night, I spent with my little brother. In between me moving, my parents moving and him going to high school and early college, my hours with him are few and far between. I know that soon he will (hopefully, IF HE GETS ON THE BALL ABOUT APPLICATIONS) be off in a ivy league school impressively puzzling over complex math problems. He will forget all about his older sister who used to torture him, bite him, punch him and dangle him over the side of the roof.

I was planning on spending a quiet evening with him. You know, me watching movies, him playing computer games. I had prepared some food for him so that during the week he would have sustenance. It was a rather large container of tuna salad that he started eating with gusto.

As I watched my movie, he informed me he would like to experience getting drunk. I pondered for a moment and agreed. After all, I would much rather have him drink with me, his older sister, in a controlled environment, than go out to some high school sex/drinking party. The repercussions and problems that could come of such a situation would be sure to abound for years. Furthermore, who better to monitor him than me? I would make sure he didn't do anything he regretted. (Like running up and down the dock in his underware, crying pathetically like a little girl or calling people and telling them he loved them.)

So. I mixed him a drink. He drank with gusto. Mixed him another. He slowed down and started chatting much more. By the time he reached the bottom of his second, he was talking so fast I couldn't understand him. Now, you need to understand that my darling little brother is 5' 10" of pure stringy muscle--all 125 pounds of him. I wasn't imagining his tolerance would be to great, but I wanted him to stop of his own accord.

I mixed him ANOTHER drink, he slowly started into that one. Keeping a non-stop commentary of the movie and all his surroundings. He got up to get something, he couldn't walk straight. He started slurring his words. He really ceased making sense. As he finished his drink, I suggested it was time to go to bed. After all, he was curled up on the floor in a rather tight little ball at this point. I tucked him in bed with a bowl beside him--just in case. (He had guzzled the last half of his drink. I know that false confidence mixed with visions of drinking graduer can be rather disastrous once the alcohol hits your bloodstream can be rather... messy.)

Ten minutes ticked by. He calls me from the phone in the bedroom. (He was sleeping in the downstairs master bedroom/Dad's bed. I was a mere fifteen feet away in the living room.) He tells me he loves me and I am a very nice sister. I walk in to check on him, everything's fine, but before I leave I remind him of the bowl beside him. He says he feels fine.

Seven more minutes. He calls my cell phone. He is lonely. He wants a stuffed... something. I find a rather large Tazmanian Devil that is bigger around then he and tuck it into bed with him. I tell him to imagine it is a fat lady. He tells me he thinks I am beautiful and would marry me if I weren't his sister. He falls halfway asleep before I get out the bedroom door and can remind him there is a bowl beside him for complications of the stomach.

Twenty minutes after that, I hear yelping. I stick my head in the door and see him projectile vomiting tuna and alcohol--everywhere. Everywhere but the bowl that is. I hustle him out of bed, steady him in front of the toilet, strip most of his clothes off him and tell him to puke until he can't puke anymore. While he hunches over the porcelain throne distributing whatever is left in his tummy, I strip the bed and rush the laundry into the washer.

By the time he has finished vomiting and I have rehydrated him, I wiped his exhausted little face, flopped him onto the spare mattress, layer him with blankets and pillows, give him ANOTHER bowl and tell him to go to sleep.

Before he does, he looks at me through his rather bleary eyes and says "It was fun for awhile, but not really worth it."

Oh. SO. True.

I slept on the couch that night so I could hear if he had anymore problems. I washed and dried the sheets. I had the bed remade before 5:00 a.m. transferred him back and tucked him in. I wanted Dad to find out about his lesson, by him being told. Not by the tell-tale scent of vomit, or chunks of dried tuna on his carpet, bed or remote programming booklet.

We talked about it the next morning. He thinks it pretty well put him off drinking for awhile. (How fun can vomiting tuna and rum up through your nose be?) But he learned a good lesson. He realizes the appeal, but also realizes the drawbacks, the consequences, the dangers. We talked about stupid things you do that you later regret. We talked about the addiction of it.

As we talked, I became less scared about parenting. I know it won't be easy. It won't just be staying up all night to wash sheets and clean up vomit. It will be late nights of prayer. It will be early mornings of begging God. It will be long days of watching your children make mistakes, but only so they can learn. But it will also be filled with moments of triumph. Where you guided them towards the right decision-but they made it. Where you see the fruit of your years of labor. Where you see your child take a tiny step closer to becoming like Christ.

I'm not going to now say I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT HAVING KIDS! I KNOW I CAN DO IT! I simply see a tiny, tiny piece of the pain and labor that my parents gave me. The prayers. The tears. The watching of mistakes. I am enormously grateful. My father always said "You know you raised your children right if your grandchildren also turn out well."

I can't guarantee you anything, Dad. Paticularly if the wishes of my Mother come true and all my children are JUST LIKE ME. But right now, I believe I am now one step closer to raising my children right.

Just like you raised us.

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This odd narrative is my life. I ended up in Pittsburgh, of all places--from the beach. I have no hobbies, other than cooking excessively and eating microwave popcorn. I enjoy shopping, the Food network, hiding the remote so the Food network cannot be turned off, find ethnic food stores and restaurants and reading voraciously. My life is decidedly pedestrian.

I worked in the car business where I was required to be ruthless and soul-less wench, which is when I started this project. Since then, I've kept it up because secretly, I've always wanted to join the military. Every male in my mother's family has joined and I quietly entertain thoughts of joining. I haven't yet and don't know if I ever will, but sending the troops cookies keeps me sane. it makes me think I still have a shred of human kindness left in my withering soul. it's a small way for me to salute the men and women who are brave enough to fight for freedom. And makes me feel like I'm contributing toward troop morale--even if I'm not. So if you want to help, send me addresses of troops you know stationed overseas. you may also contribute toward the cost of chocolate chips, but don't feel obligated, that link is here only by request.

the past


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