Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Help Wanted: Mom

Belize, 2011

Being a Mom has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  My boys have brought me endless joy and happiness, but if I had read a job description for "Mom" before starting a family, I might have thought twice before applying.

Job Description: Mom

  • No experience required
  • Salary - $0
  • No vacation or sick days
  • Hours - 24/7, 365 days a year (Half-day off on Mother's Day)
  • Lifetime commitment required

The successful candidate will: 
  • Function on little or no sleep, as required,
  • Demonstrate flexibility and fairness,
  • Place the needs of their clients (kids) before their own,
  • Have excellent negotiation skills,
  • Be willing to get peed, pooped, and vomited on,
  • Work with little supervision or assistance, and
  • Take on additional seasonal activities, as needed.

Additional skills preferred, but can be learned on the job:
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning  
  • Laundry
  • Light medical
  • Homework/Tutoring
  • Hosting birthday parties
  • Volunteering at school
  • Coaching
  • Organizing extracurricular activities
  • Scheduling  

Now that I have had 23 years of experience, I would add the following additional key roles of a successful Mom:

At our house, I'm the one the boys dump on.  I get to absorb all of their angst when something is bothering them, their frustrations when they have too much schoolwork, their stress when they have too much going on.  

A phone call from Taylor or a conversation on the way to school with Connor can send my mood spiraling downward, as I worry all day about them.  Many times I'll check in with them a few hours later and they can't recall what was bothering them.  They just needed to get it off their chests.  Thanks.  I'm glad I could help.  

It's my job to prop the boys up and to encourage them to do their best. When the boys were in grade school I would sing the mantra, "Positive Thinker.  Positive Thinker," every morning on the way to school to get them psyched.  I'm a really bad singer, so I can't say how effective my efforts were.   
I've also spent years of my life in audiences, classrooms, and on sidelines celebrating all of their achievements, large and small.  And, you know, despite how much we love our children some of that stuff can be boring…no painful is more accurate.

They don't let me dress them anymore, but when they did this was an important job to me.  Do you know how hard it is to find matching outfits when there's a 6+ years age difference?  

Taylor let me dress him until he graduated from high school.  True story. Perhaps that's why he now buys his clothes at the Goodwill.  If you knew him when he was younger and saw the get-ups I put on him, then you know that the way he dresses now is the best way for him to get back at me.  

Connor fired me as his stylist when he was 13 months old.  That's not an exaggeration.  He refused to wear overalls after his 1st birthday and has had an opinion on what to wear ever since.  Fortunately, he does not shop at the Goodwill and has his own style, not one I always approve of, but a style nonetheless.

It is true Moms have super powers.  I know when something is wrong.  I see it in their faces and I hear it in their voices.  I can also sense when something is up in the pattern of their texts or phone calls.  I'll say to Tom, "Something is up, I know it."  He'll just shake his head, but I'm right 9 out of 10 times.  

You Moms know what I'm talking about.  We just know.  We feel something is not aligning in the Universe.  Too bad we can't harness those super powers to find the damn car keys in our purses.

I'm also able to see things that are in plain view that the kids are unable to see.  Only after I get up, go upstairs, and go to the exact spot where I told them they would find whatever they are looking for are they able to see it too.  

I'm the one in our house who does all of the planning and work for vacations and holidays.  I made the mistake early on of creating all sorts of traditions around holidays and events, and unfortunately they can be exhausting to maintain, but when I try and change or eliminate any of them the boys protest. 

Being the only female in a house of males it sometimes feels like nobody pays attention to all of the work and logistics involved in making things run smoothly, and sometimes I threaten them that I'm not going to do it anymore.  

That's when they tell me, "Thank you for making everything so special" and then I feel guilty for threatening to throw all of the Christmas decorations in the trash.

Shuttling kids to all of their activities can be a full-time job.  I don't know how people with more than one child can logistically get everybody where they need to be.  I think I'd have to insist all of the kids do the same activities.  Individuality is overrated.  

The good news about being in the car so much is that it doubles as an excellent interrogation room.  My son is trapped in the car and can't avoid my questions, or me, and if I have the good fortune to drive around his friends I get to pump them for information too.

The car is also the perfect spot for me to practice my singing, and to think up clever Facebook posts as I wait in drop off and pick up lines.

Prison Warden
My least favorite job is to be a disciplinarian, but lucky for me I have a little bit of my mother in me when it comes to parenting.  My basic philosophy is pretty simple, "Because I'm the parent and I said so."

Bad Wife (Sometimes)  
Every marriage counselor will tell you to put your marriage before your kids.  That's not something we've done.  

Tom tells the story of how his Dad summed up his relationship with his Mom as follows, "I love your Mother and I love you kids, but I love your Mom more.  Your Mother loves you kids more than she loves me."  

Fortunately, we are both happy to put the boys first, but when Connor leaves for college in two years we'll see how this strategy works out.  

I'll keep you posted, and if things don't work out I'll just start a new blog about a bitter divorcee, and it won't be called Come On, That Was Funny!

Friend (With limited benefits)
I love my kids, but I also like them a lot.  I enjoy their company, they make me laugh and I would choose them as friends if I weren't their Mom. But, I am their Mom, so we're not really friends, but I still like them like a friend.  

Unlike my friends, they make me crazy sometimes like no other person on this planet, except the dogs, but they're are not people.  

There I said it, "THE DOGS ARE NOT PEOPLE!"  

We live in a scary world, especially with regard to raising children.  I'm grateful that my boys have thus far (every smart parent always includes a caveat) been really great kids providing us with endless joy and entertainment.  I'm not naive enough to believe great parenting got us this far; we've been blessed with luck too.

Taylor graduates from college next week and I can still remember the day we took him to Montessori school and Tom and I cried in the parking lot after we dropped him off.  

And, I remember like it was yesterday, picking Connor up on his first day of school and him telling me, "Pull over, get out, and come hug me."  He's old enough to drive a car.  That makes me sad.

Life goes by quickly.  I know it's clich√©, but it's true.  I get melancholy when I think of all the things that we don't do anymore.  Trick or treating, Easter egg hunts, building sand doodle castles, bringing cupcakes to school for birthdays, school plays.  

You think it will last forever while it's all going on and you don't always enjoy it like you should because you're tired from it all going on.  
Remember this if your kids are still young.  It won't last forever.

Thank you boys for the love you give to me.  

I love you. 


I am fortunate to have many people in my life that I love and who love me, but sometimes the only person you want is your Mom.  Missing my Mom on Mother's Day and everyday.  

Make sure you let your Mom know how much you love her and how important she is to you.

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