I recently wrote a blog post describing my elation as I watched my 5-year old son put all the pieces together and read a story, by himself, for the very first time. Freshly Pressed picked up this post (Thank You!), and it received much more attention than I could have ever imagined. So many of you had so many wonderful things to say; I have been completely overwhelmed.
In light of all the compliments I have received on my apparently well-honed parenting skills, I feel I must issue this disclaimer. I am NOT “Mother-of-the-Year.” I do make a point of reading with my children, but there are plenty of other areas where I fall woefully short on the “Mom-Rating Scale”.
1) I should spend more time with my kids. Like many moms, I work outside the home. A LOT. I work because I must. Yet, even if we could afford to downsize to one income, I am pretty sure that I would still choose to work. For better or worse, my professional life has become part of my identity; it would be tough to give that up. Plus, I am not sure that I would be a very good stay-at-home mom. There’s a not-so-small part of me that envies my sisters and friends who have chosen stay home with their kids, and have made the sacrifices that come with it. They are wonderful mothers who nurture their children in so many ways by simply being there for the little everyday milestones. I admire them greatly.
2) The School Bus. My son LOVES the school bus. I just wish that I could be the one to drop-off and pick-up the little guy each day. We have wonderful babysitters who have taken great care of our children for several years now; they are like family. We are fortunate that they see my son off on the bus, and meet him when he returns in the each afternoon. That doesn’t change the painful guilt-ridden twinge I had in my stomach when I picked him up at the bus stop a few weeks ago, and met his school bus monitor for the first time. Granted, she’s a relatively new bus monitor, but she’s been around for a couple of months already. In fact, it was such a novelty to have me meet him at the bus stop, that my son took it upon himself to tell the bus monitor I would be picking him up … “so she wouldn’t think you were a stranger, Mom.”
3) I don’t always want to read to my kids. My days are long. There is usually at least one night each week when I fight the urge to simply give my kids a peck on the cheek, and shuffle them off to bed, so I can collapse on the couch. The thought of reading “Green Eggs and Ham” one more time makes my head throb. I sometimes bargain with them to try to find a shorter story to read, or to whittle the reading list from two books to one. That being said, I might dread reading time, but I never regret it.
4) Arts & Crafts. I am not crafty, nor am I a baker. You are not likely to see my kids in homemade Halloween costumes, and they will probably bring pre-made store-bought cupcakes for bake sales or birthday parties at school.
5) Impatience. I get tired, and lose patience with my kids. I sometimes yell. I am not proud of that, but I grew up in a big family; one had to yell to be heard over the din. It’s a tough habit to break.
6) The Piles. More often than not, my house is a mess. I try to squeeze cleaning in between dinners, homework, laundry, swim lessons and dance classes. I create piles to give the illusion of organization: piles of bills, piles of laundry, and piles of clothes to be taken to Goodwill. Cleaning the dust bunnies under the couch often falls to the bottom of the list.
7) Grownup Time: I really enjoy “date nights” with my husband; I look forward to grownup dinners, grownup movies, and grownup friends. So I rarely feel even a bit of guilt when Gramma and Grampa offer to take the kids overnight; in fact, at times I do a little jig on the inside. I am happy to pay our friend’s teenage daughter to watch them on the occasional Saturday evening. The kids love her; we love her. Everyone is happy. There, I said it. Babysitters rule.
8 ) Shortcut Meals. Far too often, we opt for convenience at dinnertime over homemade healthy meals. We don’t have a lot of fast food at meal time, but more than a couple of Happy Meals have passed over our threshold. I do make a point of cooking at least twice a week, though. I usually make enough for a couple of meals, so technically my kids get home cooked meals more than half of the time.
9) They see my bad habits. I try to give my children all the essentials for a healthy diet. We keep plenty of fresh fruit and veggies in the house. My kids very rarely have soda; if they do it’s the occasional Shirley Temple at a restaurant. However, they regularly see me down Diet Cokes or Coffee with my meals. Not the best example to set, but I think there could be worse habits for them to see.
10) I cannot sing. I cannot carry a tune, not even a little. There should be a law when it comes to my singing. However, I subject my kids to my off-key ballads on a regular basis, and they are the only people on the planet who have to endure that torture. They don’t seem to mind now, but I they will.
When it comes to my children, I have to prioritize and simply do what I can. The dust bunnies grow. The piles merge to form mountains. But, I am at every swimming lesson and dance lesson. I read to them almost every night. I patiently work on my son’s homework with him, and do my best to make sure he is learning.
I do what I can do, and can only hope that it is good enough.