I Lost the Rule Book


When she’s here, I make a bed on the floor next to our bed by stacking comforters and pillows. I turn down the blankets and put a stuffed animal on the pillow and my nine-year old granddaughter climbs in and goes right to sleep.

She ought to be sleeping in her own room. None of our own kids ever slept in our room except one very sick boy, fresh from being adopted in Nicaragua, who was sweating through the flu. He was sticky and fretting all night, his diaper sodden and reeking in the morning. “That’s the last night he’s spending in here,” my husband said in the morning, “That’s it.”

I pretended to disagree but didn’t really.

I had enough of my kids during the day. There was no reason to sleep with them, too.

But now I don’t care if my granddaughter is sleeping on the floor next to our bed. I don’t even need a reason. If she was thirty and visiting, I’d probably be curious. But now? I don’t care. She visits. She’s here for a night and then she goes home. Whether I let her sleep on the floor next to our bed or insist that she sleep in her room is just so many angels on the head of a pin.

Who really cares?

It makes me wonder how many meaningless things I worried about when I was raising my four children. So many things fell under the rubric of ‘preventing chaos,’ as in chaos will result if people are sleeping on the floor or eating pizza for breakfast or wearing the same shirt five days in a row.

What would have happened if I hadn’t cared? Would there have been more energy for other things? Like reading books or having conversations?  Not their books necessarily or conversations with them but overall, would I have had more time for life had I not been focusing on each one’s shirt-wearing behavior?

The forensic detective in me wants to go back and dust for evidence, find a link between my oatmeal obsession  (not for me, for them) and their success in life. What exactly was the ROI (Return on Investment) of my elaborate chaos prevention program?

Two of my four children always eat breakfast. None of them sleeps on the floor. When I see them now and then, none of them seems to have on the same clothes. I think these achievements are substantial but might have occurred without me.

I pose this question – whether I worried about the right things when my children were growing up – for no particular or useful reason. As mothers we both grossly over and underestimate our important in our children’s lives. When I finally sort this out, I will be staring at the satin lining of my casket.

But right now? It matters not. I had my run with my children. The season for chaos prevention has passed. I relax into chaos. I am at home with chaos.

I may sleep on the floor myself.


6 Comments on “I Lost the Rule Book

  1. OMG I needed this today, as I am nursing a killer headache from trying to get out cool weather clothes, supervise reading and book reports, and be the timer for violin and cello practice for my 4 kids. I ought to just relax into the chaos for at least a few minutes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good luck with that sleeping on the floor things. Old bones. . .

    We enter parenting completely unprepared. Most of us try so hard to figure it out, but the information we get is at best confusing. Most of it’s about products–all that plastic parenting magic that fails to work as promised.

    My mom was an orphan. I was almost through my 40s before I realized that’s why the rules were so important to her. She had to figure them out for herself. When she found ones that seemed to work she clung to them. They made her feel safe. And I didn’t need the rules because she and my dad were safe harbor for me. They taught me what they knew, half of which I needed to discard but half of which still serves me. I made up those percentages but you get the idea. . .

    I love your thought-engaging essays. Thanks so much for writing and sharing them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am in chaos prevention 🙂 My parents, especially my mom, were major chaos preventers. I love seeing them with my kids, letting them sleep anywhere, have ice cream just because, and stay up too late watching shows like American Pickers.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Two of my four children always eat breakfast. None of them sleeps on the floor. When I see them now and then, none of them seems to have on the same clothes. I think these achievements are substantial but might have occurred without me.” Laughing here:). I feel the same way when my son’s teachers bemoan his handwriting. I remind them most doctors have illegible handwriting:). You’ve got to choose what’s worth time and energy–and we all know there’s only so much of those.

    Liked by 1 person

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