Life is messy


Yesterday, I sat on the edge of the bathtub reading Alya and Zeno to Ri as she brushed her teeth. Then I made her sit next to me to read the next page. We traded pages back and forth until the end of the chapter. One more down. She ran off to play with her friend as soon as I closed the book.
That’s how it typically rolls.
I used to have idyllic thoughts of Ri and I cuddling on the couch reading Little Women together and discussing what we read after each chapter.

Ri hates Little Women.
Ri hates to take time out from playing to read.

That’s reality. Face it, Mary.

After many months fighting it and fighting Ri to enjoy it (“Damnit, Ri, you have to enjoy reading this book with your mom because I said so!”), I’ve come to terms with reality.
Ri is going to fight tooth and nail to avoid reading. She is going to moan when I make her sit down and do it. She is not going to pick Little Women or Little a House on the Prairie as her book choices.

That is ok.

Life is messy and imperfect. Kids tend to not have your idealized version of a day well spent. They would rather sit on an iPad playing Minecraft or Animal Farm all day than do multiplication tables. I was there at one time, too.

Remember that, Mary.

When we do read together, Ri’s pleasant. She reads the words with inflection and tone. She even listens when I read to her. She engages with me afterwards when I ask her what she thought of the chapter (but that is with much less excitement and one leg out the door).
So I have learned to temper my desires and live with what I got right now. A messy, sighing, exasperated process whereby I have to initiate reading with my daughter and see her tapping her leg waiting for the last page of the chapter to arrive. And that’s ok. Because she’s reading and learning and pronouncing more words correctly even if it’s killing her. After all, how many nights did I sit up with my dad and yell at him for making me do my algebra problem over and over until it was correct? But now I’ve got perseverance and can add up grocery items in my head to know if I’ve reached $50 so I can use my $5 off coupon. The benefits come through eventually. It’s just as a parent it can get difficult to see up ahead. You get caught in the yelling and whining and you think “is it even worth it?”

But then you breathe.

And catch your daughter reading alone (albeit a People magazine).

And you remember how you were and where you are today.

And you keep plugging away at it – through the mess and tantrums – to arrive at another chapter accomplished.

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4 thoughts on “Life is messy

  1. Mary Ann Schomaker says:

    Mary you have learned some very valuable parenting facts at a relatively early stage of the game. This knowledge will serve you well now & for many years to come.

  2. Kevin says:

    Good that you’re trying not to sweat it. When my girls were young Aimee was my reader, Sherri was not. So, of course, Sherri went on to teach English and Lit, and now has a Masters with a specialty in reading instruction. Zach didn’t begin to read until second grade, couldn’t get it. Now he’s read all the great philosophers and is working his way through the canon of Western Lit. He should really just finish college and become an instructor at a small liberal arts school or a community college. That’s what he’s wired for.

    Anyway, you never know what the future will bring. Life is not just messy, it’s unfathomable.

    • marymenkedick says:

      Kevin, thanks for this response. I appreciate your perspective and completely agree. I can’t imagine what these two will be doing 20 years from now. I look forward to seeing you and talking more in August!

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