Guest Post: My Helpful Opposite

April 11, 2016 by Jennifer Carsen

Today’s guest post is courtesy of Jen Altrogge, a wife, mother, and writer. You can find out more about her at her website.

This is my third year in a row with a kindergartener (that’s right folks, I have a second grader, a first grader, a kindergartener and, guess what! A preschooler as well). When my two oldest, who are very UNlike me, were kindergarteners, they reminded me every day, for weeks, of upcoming events at school. I took this for granted, even found it a little annoying, until this year.

My third born is a miniature version of myself. This means I get along with her fairly well but we’re doing nothing to help each other. So when Muffins with Moms rolled around this year, I did not know that the reason I had been prepared for this event the two previous years in a row had been the obsessive reminders of my first two daughters.

And that is how I found myself in the drop off line, noticing all of the parked cars and suddenly thinking, Wait. This is M week…Oh no.

“Hon, is today Muffins with Moms???”

Daughter #3, after a brief delay: “Muffins with Moms???”

Her sisters wouldn’t let me forget it. She had no idea what it was.

And so I attended Muffins with Moms in my lime green slippers, with severe bedhead and not a speck of makeup on my face. It wasn’t my proudest moment.

Unlike daugther #3, my oldest, who is turning 8 soon, is essentially my total opposite in almost every way. This, as you can imagine, is an infuriating thing at times. Like when she thinks my way of doing things makes no sense and insists her way is better (because apparently 7 ½ is the new 15??). Or when she cries because I just don’t get her.

However, due to incidents like the Muffins with Moms debacle, I’m finding that these differences can actually work to my advantage. She’s basically my own little calendar/reminder system.

See, I’m a laid back, fly by the seat of my pants kind of mom. And I’m kind of disorganized, messy, and forgetful. I’m not worried about germs, I don’t obsess over my kids eating habits and going to the doctor is reserved for actual crises, not head colds. Routine is kind of torture for me, which is one of the reasons I’m so grateful for school, which instills this in my children for me.

My oldest is a hand-wringer. She’s constantly concerned about everything. She loves to be organized. She’s always trying to come up with plans that will solve my disorganization problems (“Mom, I think if we just did this, it would really help.”). She wants to bring the structure of school into our home life. And she remembers everything.

A regular conversation for us goes something like:

Daughter #1: Remember when you said _____, Mom?

Me: No…I said that??

Daughter #1: Yeeeeees. (proceeds to repeat entire remembered conversation to me, including context and location).

So, a few days ago, I had to take her to the doctor. Remember how I said we only go for crises? Well, that’s true unless I’m just exhausted from telling my kid every night that she has growing pains while she insists her legs are broken, and I decide to let the doctor put an end to the conversation.

As we pulled into the doctor’s office, I noticed that, of course, I had forgotten to get gas, and we were exactly 2 miles from empty. Ugh.

“Sweetie, can you remind me to get gas when we leave? Like, you really need to remind me.”

“What happens if we run out of gas, Mom?”

“We’re stranded and we have to walk to the nearest gas station.”

“Oooooh, dear. We CANNOT forget to get gas.”

And oh boy, did we ever NOT forget. In the span of time it took to get her vitals, see the nurse (and be told, BY THE WAY, that it’s just growing pains) and check out, she had reminded me to get gas approximately 352 times (give or take).

She also managed to tell the nurse a lot of other facts that revealed all sorts of things about our family life. For instance, “we’re going to Disney for spring break but then we won’t go again FOR A LONG TIME, because it costs a lot of money and we have 4 kids and it’s really expensive and we don’t have money.” I have no idea where she heard that, nurse. We’re financially fine, I promise (P.S. Go ahead and click that link. It’s true. There are no coupons for Disney. Ever. It’s expensive. Even for us Floridians).

Well, the entire staff at the doctor’s office might have been looking at us funny, but at least we weren’t stranded without gas.

So it turns out that even though having my complete opposite questioning my every action can be somewhat annoying, it has its perks. I’ve resigned myself to letting my oldest keep our house in line and am just going to reap the benefits and call it a day. After all, what good are all of these children if they aren’t showing us how incompetent we really are.

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