style

Specifically, management style.

We’ve all got a management style.

I’ve got it.  You’ve got it. We’ve all got it!

Sure beats herpes, right?

(nothing like a herpes reference to kick off a blog post, eh?)

So. Anywho.

I’ve had lots of managers in my lifetime.  My first two managers were my parents.

My parents have a very unique, very different management style than most parents.

Let’s talk about my mom first.

My mother LOVES a good time. Loves it. Every day was a new adventure.  Mom LOVES people. She loves to talk in lines at the grocery store, at the post office, waiting for the walk signal at a stop light, on the phone to customer service reps, at sporting events and so on. Church was the ultimate showcase of the differences between my parents – after the last note of the last song was sung, my dad BOLTED for the car, grabbing whichever children were closest. My mom? She saw her friend Joyce and wanted to check in on how Joyce’s uncle’s brother’s wife was doing.  And then she saw Ann and goodness, Ann’s oldest looks so cute with her new haircut.  And on the way out she wanted to check in with Father Joe about the Women’s Pot Luck for the Council of Catholic Women and also to see who needed a dish for a funeral.

And to my mother’s horror, when she stepped out into the crisp sunshine of a glorious Sunday, there was my father, pulled right up to the front doors of the church, waiting.

How the next few moments went often determined whether we would be going out for a delightful family brunch or if we were going home for left over cold pizza.

My dad is practically her exact opposite. My dad loved to sit with us and talk about our five year plans and what our personality profiles suggested would be ideal career paths for us. He still loves to review business and acquisition strategies and enjoys reading resumes for people on the hunt for a new job.  He practices looking at things in new ways.

When we were home sick from school and my dad was our caregiver one rare November day, my dad made charts of our fevers on 3×5 index cards.  He planned story times, sometimes the content of which he imagined up in some of the most hilarious stories I’d ever heard in my young life, and sometimes he read to us from The Time Machine  by H.G. Wells.

Were my parents perfect? Nope. They were lots of fun, absolutely.  If you were going to have to be stuck in a car for two weeks traveling across the country and staying in a pop-up camper, you’d be lucky to be stuck with my family.

But the part of me that loves the idea of schedules and charts and graphs (oh, excel, how I love thee), always sort of wished my mom gave me more routine and structure. And for anyone saying, “But Emily, your mom reads your blog! How could you say that??” I must tell you, I know this about myself because my mother told me so.  My mother is a keen observer.  She knew things about us before we ever knew it. She knew I’d go to DePaul before I ever knew it. She knew I’d marry Frank before I even said yes.

She’s good like that.

Annoyingly good.

My parents are different from my friends’ parents.  They are very different from Frank’s parents.  Frank was raised by a periodontist and an artist.  If you want to know what makes a pilot, I think that has to be it – the perfect combination of science on a small scale (in.your.mouth.yuck!) and the abstract vision of modern sculpting.

And yet, despite our parents’ very different management styles, interests and skills, Frank and I make (and laugh at) the same juvenile jokes.

Tonight, Frank looked at me and said, very confidently with a slight smirk, “titmouse.”

And I. Lost. It.

For those of you at home who wonder if this is a made up word, I assure you it is not.  Below, please take a moment to enjoy the tufted titmouse:

Yes, I am a Tufted Titmouse. What?

On Facebook and in forums and in conversations, I have observed much dispute over parenting management styles.  From epidurals to store-bought baby food, nothing is sacred. Or perhaps the issue is that everything is sacred.

I gotta tell y’all that if you get an epidural or you don’t, if you breastfeed or you don’t, if you cloth diaper or you don’t, if you make all of your baby food or you don’t, you may still raise a daughter or a son that will date, fall in love with, and marry another individual who will absolutely fall apart when your child says, “titmouse.”

When my first boyfriend broke up with me, my mom and dad did the most wonderful thing.  First, my mom realized that this was a job for dad.  And my dad sat down and talked to me about grieving lost relationships. As a 17 year old girl, there is nothing more powerful than a dad who is brave enough and smart enough to sit down with you and affirm that you are beautiful and that not all men suck. Just some.

He told me all of the old adages apply: “Time heals all wounds” and “it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all”.  And then he very profoundly quoted John Lennon and told me, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”

I, myself, have gotten all worked up about whether my child will excel or fail miserably based upon the quantity and quality of breastmilk she received.

But in the midst of the anguish of deciding how to feed my children, I learned how to love them. How to make difficult decisions to care for them, how to snuggle them without watching the clock, how to make them laugh, how to play with them and how to be the mom they need me to be.

Not to worry, we have another 17+ years to go. I don’t expect this learning process to end now that they are close to walking.  I expect that I will continue learning how to be their parent and how to love them.

And I am grateful for all of the styles of parenting I’ve been able to witness because I will likely draw from all of them as I develop as a mom.

Titmouse.

Ha ha ha. 🙂

2 thoughts on “style

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