My Disclaimer on Motherhood

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.

School Bus
Off to Kindergarten on the Bus

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.

Laundry Piles
Laundry piles grow by the minute

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.

8 thoughts on “My Disclaimer on Motherhood

  1. tia

    I admire your honesty and ability to see and say things exactly the way they are. I’m not a mother but aspire to be one very soon & one of the concerns that I have is whether I could do complete justice to my child while I continue to work the way I do, amidst all the cooking, cleaning household chores. Being an Indian, we swear by our home cooked meals at all times, eating out is only a necessary evil which we allow ourselves to do at inevitable times. To add to these woes, my friends tell me stories about their difficult and cranky kids. So I’m left wondering if motherhood is going to be one tiring experience…

  2. Blondy Magee

    You are not alone with this list. I think all parents suffer from the same list, even though it may differ a little the ideas are the same. My house is a disaster. Our kitchen has turned into the craft corner with my daughters “art” thrown all over the place. I find myself losing my temper too often when I should be enjoying a few moments of peace and love with my amazing children. And we have so many piles I wouldn’t know where to begin if I wanted to get rid of them.

    1. maryct70

      So many of us are in that boat I think. So many people advise me not to worry about the dirty dishes in the sink, and the piles of laundry, that those are merely nuisances, and not important in the long run. Academically, I know it’s true. But it is a very difficult concept to accept. If only I had a housekeeper, personal shopper and nanny to keep my life in order!

  3. I guess it could be said that our best is never ‘enough’, but it’s all we have and it’s all our kids have.
    The great thing about your list is not simply the honesty but that you speak with humility. I’ve seen similar lists where the writer says, effectively, “This is me; like or lump it.”
    I like your, “This is me; I can’t change these parts for now, but will continue to work on those bits.”
    Love, which is the greatest gift, always looks for meaningful ways to express itself when time or other resources are limited.
    They won’t remember your baking or your singing (well, they might remember your singing; sorry about that) but they will remember being read to and your being at every practice.

  4. maryct70

    Very well said Ian. All we can every do is give it our best effort, and to strive for even more. If only my singing would improve with extra effort!

  5. Are you sure you’re not me? I know I could have written this post! I don’t know most of the other children, and certainly not the parents, in my daughters’ classes because my husband takes them to school and I pick them up from their after-school program. I let my children watch TV too much because I need them to stay occupied, without fighting, while I make their dinner or check my work email. But I must be doing something right because my children are generous with their hugs and “I love you”s, there’s lot of laughter and singing in our house, and my teenage daughter seems to enjoy hanging out with me (most of the time). Keep up the good work!

    1. maryct70

      Sounds like we are kindred spirits indeed. I just hope my daughter still enjoys hanging out with me when she reaches her teenage years!

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