I can try as I may but the chances of one of my children going to Harvard, getting a Ph. D. in something outstanding, and winning the Nobel Peace Prize are none to a billion. I won’t be disappointed though because the Nobel Peace Prize has only been awarded to 96 individuals and 20 organizations since 1901 and I wasn’t one of those awarded. And yes, I, too, have hosted my own expensive birthday parties in an effort to keep up with the Joneses, but when I realized that I just simply couldn’t keep up – well, I gave up and decided that all I had to do was make my own child happy. And, as for my own missed-out accomplishments, they don’t compare to what I have achieved instead – being a mom (the hours are many and the pay is nothing, but the hugs and kisses are priceless). And last, if all my children ever do is turn out to be kind and decent human beings, well that is good enough for me.
I have been trying to read Jen Singer’s book “You’re a Good Mom (and your kids aren’t so bad either)” during my minimally available me/guilt time. I just finished up Secret Five – “Your Kids Birthday Party Isn’t Your Coming Out Celebration”. Jen offered some advice to “those” kinds of mothers – you know those mothers – the kind that throw birthday parties that appear to be something out of a traveling circus or the kind that rush from hockey to soccer to ballet all in the same day all in an effort to live out their missed-out accomplishments through their children. “Our superior parenting skills are not what’s in the spotlight. It’s not about you. It is about a bunch of kids scoring more runs than the kids on the other team. It is about your child working hard in school. It is about your kid’s sixth birthday. It is about your little one earning a black belt. And no, you don’t get to write the acceptance speech.” (Singer at p. 60 – I know this isn’t an English paper, but I have to give credit where it is due.)
Jen also pointed out another important detail that I quite often ignore. “Don’t ignore you – or you won’t recognize yourself when the kids are gone.” So to all you super moms out there – get the hint. Actually, in my case, sometimes I feel like a slacker mom (and yes, I do beat myself up about it). Am I alone in my thinking? Doesn’t anyone else feel like they are slacking off as a parent? I look at those helicopter moms always hovering over every aspect of their children’s lives and I feel two things – one – that those women are nuts and two – I am not doing enough.
You have heard many of the parenting quotes out there: “It takes a village to raise a child (an old African proverb”; “Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands. (Anne Frank)”; “Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction. (Anne Sullivan); “Parenting is like a life sentence without parole” and “Small children, small problems. Big children, big problems (my friend Ava’s mom)”, apparently they do hold true. I am sure you have your own quotes as well. And yes, being a parent is the toughest job on earth, you just don’t know it until you have children yourself (or in my husband’s case, you don’t know it unless I tell you).