with Talyaa Liera
I'm Talyaa, the poster child for the concept that there's no one right way to be a parent. I went from stay-at-home attachment-parenting mom of four to being the non-custodial parent, working as a professional writer and channel-psychic. Let's talk about throwing away the parenting manual and exploding the myths and mystique of motherhood!
Check out my personal blog at Juxtapositioning.
I had an appointment this morning with my daughter Serena. She’s 12. We had plans to Skype. 9am came and went and she didn’t appear online. No other contact. I Facebooked and checked email and finally took the shower I had postponed so I could make sure I made our 9am commitment. At least, I had made the commitment. Serena? She lost track of time, she said, 45 minutes later when she finally came online.
I got angry. I IM’d her:
I set aside time this morning to talk to you, to devote just to you, and you weren’t there. Let’s set another time a different day, and make a commitment to be available at that time.
Living 3000 miles away from your kids is tough. You have to schedule talk time and connecting time. No matter how much to schedule, there is never enough time. It’s not like I can pop my head in her door and ask her to take a walk with me or see if she wants to go to the store so we can have a heart-to-heart. You know the sage parenting advice “pick your battles”? When you live 3000 miles away it means even more.
I felt bad. Disrespected. Angry and sad that I was going to miss talking to her. I had so many questions. Should I make this a teaching moment? Am I making too much of this? How much can a 12 year old take? What standards do I hold my kid to? Is making a big deal of this worth risking alienating her? When is it okay to be the bad-guy parent?
If we lived in the same house, would I be asking myself these questions?
We had a commitment. To me, it was a commitment. I want to teach my kids to honor their promises and to be accountable to them.
Everyone’s time is valuable, even the 3 year old who thinks he has all the time in the world for everything. If I don’t teach Serena to respect people’s time — including her own — then who will?
If we lived in the same house, being the hardass once in a while would have a whole different effect than when you are the once-a-week long distance parent. Is teaching my kid something that I believe is an important life skill worth possibly pushing her away? How hard do I push? Will she believe me when I tell her that teaching her this way is one of the few ways I have left of loving her? I can’t make her sandwiches, but I can help make her a better person. Isn’t that my job?
Serena has told me that she thinks a mother should just be available and should sacrifice her wants to cook and clean and generally be there for her kids. Why shouldn’t she believe that? I WAS that for a good part of her life. A lot of people believe that mothers should sacrifice. I still caught in it…I caught myself wondering whether I should just suck it up and make myself available to Serena whenever.
I miss the hell out of my kids. Every day. Every moment of every day. I am teaching Serena about integrity but there is a cost to me as well. We both missed out today.
I know that my example is extreme — most of you live with your kids at least some or most of the time — but finding balance in Teaching Moment vs. Possible Risks is something every parent faces. When do you decide to be okay being the bad guy?
Subscribe to blog via RSS