As a hot mess of a mom, I don't stress the holidays. I mean, I do, but not in the traditional way of omg, I need to cook for a billion people and my house must be on point. My way of stressing over the holidays is always all about money. Or rather, our lack of it. But, I do have plenty to be thankful for. Namely, my husband and my children.
Last night, after everyone else had gone to bed, my older daughter and I were chilling together. She's thirteen, and has a personality that's an adorable blend of awkwardness and silliness. She's me, only younger. Tyler is so much like my husband, sharing that same brilliant personality that jumps at you and makes you smile...even when you don't feel like cracking a grin. But Jesse? We worry about the same things. We laugh at the same things. She and Tyler have all of mine and husband's awful traits, with just enough of our good to balance it out. But anyway, last night I watched I Am Elizabeth Smart and when it was over, I leapt out of bed to check on my children and give them kisses. Jesse was awake, so we talked and laughed for a while, and while we did so, she said "I can't relate to kids who bad mouth their parents. I hear them talk bad about their moms and dads, and I just can't get into that." With my heart practically swelling out of my chest, I asked her why she can't relate to that since all teenagers shit-talk their parents. This was her answer, and it nearly brought me to tears. "Because I have a great mother and father. I love you guys. You're funny, and smart, and you make it easy for me to love and respect you. I can't ever crap-talk you. I have nothing bad to say." Holding back tears, I thanked her and explained that I know plenty of parents who shit-talk their kids, and just like she can't relate when her friends do it, I feel the same way when I hear parents trash their children.
See, it's like this: My little four-person clan might not have a fancy house, expensive cars, go to upscale restaurants, take vacations, or wear high-end clothes, but we like each other. Of course we love each other, but it goes so much deeper than that. Frankie and I are best friends. When we had our girls, they became part of that friendship. True, I don't count myself as a my daughters' friends. I am, first and foremost, their mother. It is my job to mother them. To parent them. I take my job very seriously (a common misconception about a Unicorn Mom is that we half-ass motherhood. Um, no. We just do parenting a bit differently.). I have to teach them to be good people. And I think I'm doing a dang good job, thank you very much. But, getting back to that friendship... When Frankie and I created these two amazing women, they became vital members of our pack. It's not Frankie and Renee - oh, and Jesse and Tyler, too. They aren't afterthoughts or add-ons to our relationship. It's We Us Four. Forever, and through everything. The entire world can crumble around us, but as long as we are We Us Four, nothing else matters. The four of us share a strong relationship built on love and respect, and with those things comes trust. None of us expect or demand respect. We work each day to earn it through communication and honesty. Are we perfect? Hell, no. But we don't strive for perfection. We strive for being good to each other. And you know what? Thus far, it's working out pretty dang great. And when my kids slip up, I don't punish them in the traditional sense, or berate them. I explain why dishonesty hurts, and how it can unravel our We US Four. I've instilled in them since birth that my definition of 'mommy' is that they can tell me anything. Sure, if it's something terrible there will be consequences, but when they make their mistakes, we make sure that so long as they are honest, they will never be judged, and our trust in them remains strong.
This parenting method is working for us, and fingers crossed it stays that way through the teenage years!
So, yeah... When I sit down at the table on Thanksgiving - a day we'll be sharing with my unbelievably awesome in-laws - I will take a moment to be very grateful for We Us Four.