Search

mind-over-motherhood

Being more than "just Mom".. honestly.

Category

Walk the Line

Attempting to find the balance between being a good mom *and* a good me. (Or: Making My Kids Appropriately Important.)

Have you seen my Motivation…

Because I have clearly lost it.

It’s January. (Now March – but I started writing this piece back in January. I thought it was fitting to leave it..)

This time last year I was looking at back at my year in review, analyzing the goals that I set and achieved (or missed altogether) the year prior  and setting new goals for 2012.  By this time in January, I had taken on multiple purge and re-organize projects in my house. Totally revamping my closet. I was reading a book (gasp!). I was taking up tennis. I even really – truly finally got serious about my writing and this blog.  That was my biggest resolution in 2012.

What do they say about the average time that people actually keep their New Year’s Resolutions?  Based on the drastic drop-off at the gym  this week of every year, my guess would be two weeks.   A FranklinCovey  survey found that “35 percent of respondents break their New Year’s resolutions by the end of January and only 23 percent of those surveyed don’t ever break them.”

So, I’m not that bad. I made it well past January of 2012. At least through the first quarter if not half way through the year.

But the truth?  I haven’t yet looked back to see what my goals were for 2012 for fear of how many I dropped at some point during the year or abandoned completely. I don’t have a single resolution or goal for 2013. Not one.

Still waiting for some New Years motivation. Hoping it gets here before the year is over.

Defining – and Defying – the Word: Me·ni·al

me·ni·al   /ˈmi ni əl, ˈmin yəl/   [mee-nee-uh l, meen-yuh l]

adjective

1.  lowly and sometimes degrading: menial work.

2.  servile; submissive: menial attitudes.

3.  pertaining to or suitable for domestic servants; humble: menial furnishings.

———————————————————————————————————————–

Finding your identity – and maintaining a sense of it – as a Stay at Home Mom can be a little more than challenging.. especially in terms of how the world views you — what “worth” they put on you.

I get comments from people all the time (usually other women) about how “nice” it must be not to “have to work”.

Or the drive by comment, “Oh, the life of a stay-at-home-Mom.”  – as the working mom drives away from the bus stop on her way to work, and I walk back to the house in my yoga pants, with my coffee cup in hand.  Little does she know that the idea of getting dressed in business attire and being able to have a change of scenery – where I can turn on my brain and engage in something other than house and kids sounds like manna for my starving mind sometimes. *

As you may have gathered from reading this blog (when seldom I post, lately), I work hard to have an identity outside of my children. To find ways to keep myself well-rounded and feed those parts of me that need a little more than 5th grade homework (challenging as it is for my old brain) and endless loads of laundry.   I have been diligent in recent years in my attempts to hold on to the interests I had prior to my three little birds landing in my life… so that once they spread their wings and leave the nest, I don’t feel lost with no definition of myself.  When they fly away, I pray, that they will be strong, independent and GOOD big birds… and that I will be more than just mom with an empty nest.

I have made endless efforts to find ways to engage in my interests, learn new things, and feel like I still contribute to the world outside of my home (not in any way belittling the value or importance of being focused on the contributions I make to my household.)  It takes a lot – and I mean, A LOT – of energy to keep from being all-consumed by life as mom.  Which makes the comments from others that go like this: “Oh, are you still doing that little volunteer thing?” – feel a bit like a knife in the gut. * (It’s worth visiting this asterisk again.)

While I do know that having the luxury of staying home with my little birds is a blessing and I AM thankful, I also have to admit that very often when I’m doing the same laundry for the 100th time — or doing dishes for 4th time in a day — or trying to figure out what to cook for the next meal (when I’ve just finished cleaning from the last one) — or picking up guinea pig poop — or having to repeat myself endlessly with my children, I often feel that most of the things I do all day are just plain menial.

There have been times, I even feel like anyone on Earth could do what I do –  I could just record myself saying “No. Stop fighting. Speak kindly. Try again!” and let it play on repeat on the ipod — or that I am simply that robot, Rosie from the Jetsons (please don’t tell me that you don’t know who the Jetsons are.)   Am I just wasting my talents and my education on these menial tasks that have to be done over and over and over and over, with no end in sight?!

Not that these tasks are unique to stay at home moms… all moms/dads have to get these same menial things done, but when you have no other “professional” outlet or career definition in your life, these menial tasks tend to be the things that come to define who you are – they ARE what you do.

But that is not where this topic ends. Not with the negative. Never.  I look back to that first paragraph, and I Thank Goodness that – as a Christian – my “worth” is not defined by this world.

One morning a while back, during a few minutes of devotional time, I happened upon a quick writing about Holy Thursday. It reflected on Jesus’ last acts with His disciples and pointed out that in His final hours with His most beloved – His chosen – He didn’t perform miracles or do “great” works. He didn’t bring people back from the dead, he wasn’t being anointed with costly oils or perfumes or any of the multitude of things that The King would seemingly choose to do in His final time on Earth.  Instead in His final hours, He chose to spend with His earthly family, His chosen disciples.

In very much a familial way.  He chose to feed them. To teach them. To wash their feet. In essence, the very cooking, cleaning, correcting and teaching that I have loathed. That’s what was most important to Jesus in His final hours. That’s what He chose.**

Yeah, go ahead and think about that for another few seconds.

And the crazy thing is that when I found this reading – about Jesus, Himself, choosing these seemingly menial tasks as the most important things He could do in His last days, I began to find happiness in doing them.

So, I share this today to say that, here – at the end of the calendar year, I am adding a new “MORE” to my list.  As this Advent Season begins I will make the everyday things  – that I have been so desperately trying to keep from defining who I am – precisely what defines me. And by that I mean, what should – and really does – define me, is how I choose to view these tasks. My attitude towards those menial tasks defines my character.  It makes me more than just mom.  It makes me the person that I want to model for my little birds as they grow.

Menial = redefined.

* I truly don’t have any ill feelings toward my fellow moms that make these comments – not at all – I maintain that we are all on the same team. Maybe sometimes we just need to communicate about our different positions on the team and how they all work together for the greater good of our team goals.

** I had to pause and ask myself if I knew that I had a few last days on Earth, what would I choose.. would it be to do the things I have never done and go see the world? Probably. Would I choose the menial acts of service for my loved ones? Probably not.

Ice Cream Scoops and Buckets of Frozen Margarita (The Liquid Store Chronicles – Part 1)

 

Motherhood can make you do some crazy stuff.

We all have that list of things we have done as a mom that we NEVER would have imagined ourselves doing pre-motherhood.

We’ve all been vomited on, seen things come out of our children that are either all too recognizable or completely, unimaginably, unrecognizable.  Our once pretty/clean cars now look like a crime scene. We have watched our bodies pay the price: sagging and bulging and stretching and wrinkling.. and on and on. And while those things can drive a person pretty crazy, those aren’t quite what I’m talking about in this post.

I’m talking about those times when you’re on completely exhausted, sleep-deprived, auto pilot and before you know it, you have  done ( or said) something that never would have happened before entering your motherhood.

We’re talking about the things that would have mortified us in our previous lives.

But alas, here we are in the motherhood with a resume that is full of embarrassing, disgusting, and down right terrifying job requirements. Still worse are those instances – oh goodness, all the instances – where level-headed, well-educated, socially adjusted, rationale was simply lost to the motherhood… in retrospect I wonder how we (me and my 3 little birds) made it this far.

~And so it is… M.O.M.-fession Time~

My list of horrifying moments includes the fact that I have taken a picture of my child’s, well… fecal matter… that was on the floor outside of the bathroom and emailed it to one of my best mom-friends in a fit of frustration over potty training.  – I plead “potty-training insanity” on this and therefore you cannot judge me for it.

{Insert pause so you can process what you’ve just read.}

I know, it’s gross.  I can’t fathom doing such a thing now, but honestly I was in a toddler-induced haze. You can’t think straight when you’re dealing with potty training, because honestly, whose brain really can deal with the fact that all those years of education are being put to use by trying to get a kid to rid him or herself of their waste in a toilet instead of having them sit in it?! The brain’s only option is to completely shut down and process nothing. It’s a self-defense mechanism, really.

Somewhere during that same time-frame (go ahead and wrap your head around it.. I had a ~ kindergartner, a ~3 year old and a one year old.. oh, and a traveling husband) I realized that things like sending disgusting pictures to friends weren’t the best way to deal with my stress and mommy-frustration.  Nor was the giant bowl of ice cream I was eating each night.  (Again.. given the circumstances, there was no such thing as a “work out” at this point in my motherhood, unless it involved chasing a naked kid who just got out of the tub and wouldn’t let me get them dressed.)  But we all have to have our motherhood survival tools.

Though, I could entertain the idea of cutting back on the ice cream a bit (but would not retire my ice cream scoop, instead re-purposing it), I was still leaning heavily on venting, prayer and a big cup of “Mommy-juice” after the kids went to bed each night.

Yes. Prayer and alcohol.  Jesus turned water into wine.  And He knows what He’s doing. It’s a good combination.  But the prayer comes first. Always.

Add it to the list of MOM-fessions.

Even better ones are coming.

Now that my kids are a bit older, I look back and think of those days (and how much fewer the MOM-fession instances are now that they are older), I am reminded of how many of my mortifying moments stemmed from having to take them all grocery shopping with me.  I was doing all of my shopping – groceries and otherwise – with all three kids (and oh how much less stressful life is now that I am not forced to do so).  You all remember how that routine goes. Something a bit like this:

(The only thing wrong with the illustrations here is that in the right column, my hair would have been in a pony tail, I would be in yoga pants – though not having done a lick of exercise – and my clothes would have spit up and Cheetos stains on them.)  Ugh. Doing the grocery store with kids is the stuff Mommy-nightmares are made of. Especially considering the following facts surrounding my particular situation:

I had a rambunctious and inquisitive 5-year-old boy, an almost-3 year old who was still potty training and did NOT stay still unless she was sleeping, and the piece de la resistance: an almost 1-year-old who was crying screaming if I wasn’t holding her and in complete protest of being weaned.*

I’ve mentioned that the child was blessed with an insane amount of cuteness. which saves her now, but then?  Well, at that age – it drew a lot of attention from strangers everywhere we went. Especially the grocery store. Every stranger that walked by felt the need to lean over into her cute little face and tell her how adorable she was. Little did they know that she was opposed to any one existing on the planet other than me.. which resulted in her rejecting their compliments with a hateful grimace, a good loud “NO!”, and a good solid swing of her hand. Yep. My kid beat up strangers in the grocery store – even before her first birthday. I would just walk around mindlessly saying, “I’m Sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry.” over and over like those were the only words I knew. — Except maybe for the interjected “NO! Put that down!” and “Sit down in the cart!” to the other two, in between apologies.***

(Oh, and have I mentioned that my WAPI husband was traveling for work 4 – 5 days a week?)

The important thing to note here is that just next door to our local grocery store that year – was the Liquor Store. {YES!!}

Wine = Mommy’s Little Helper. (Or instead of my now-preferred wine, buckets of margaritas at the time – yes the big buckets that you put in the freezer. – When I decided to cut back on the ice cream, I would use the ice cream scoop in the bucket of frozen margarita, just like had with the Mint Chocolate Chip.)

After reading the last few paragraphs maybe you’ll understand WHY I was crazy enough to feel the need to take three kids in the liquor store.

And I did. All three of them.

The first time I braved the Liquor Store with the kids I felt some apprehension and guilt for doing so… I wondered if people walking by would judge me for dragging my littles in there with me. I wondered if the people who worked there would even let me in with the kids. That would have been much worse than the judgement from others, to be quite frank. My fear didn’t last long, though, because as soon as we got through the door my soon-to-be-friend behind the counter reached down and pulled out the BIGGEST glass jar full of suckers** to give to the kids.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only Mom in the neighborhood who strapped the toddler in a stroller (so as not to let her pull the shelves over), hid in sunglasses and a hat and snuck into the Liquor Store with her brood of children – all the while hoping that the establishment wouldn’t tell me, “You can’t have kids in here.” (Because then I would have been faced with the temptation to leave them outside the door of the Liquor Store while I got what I needed. What? It was a strip mall and the wall/door were entirely made of glass. I could have seen them the whole time. — OK, I’m just exaggerating here. I was WAY too much of a paranoid, over-protective Mom at the time to EVER actually do that.)

And that jar of suckers was all it took for this to become part of my new routine. Grocery store, then Liquor Store.  And sometimes, Liquor Store then Grocery Store. I traded in my 5 minutes in the freezer section by the 1000 cartons of ice cream, for 5 minutes in the Liquor Store.

Here’s the thing: my oldest, The Owl, was around kindergarten-age about this time in my motherhood. And by the end of kindergarten he could read. I mean REALLY read. Almost anything you put in front of him.**** He would have read through the entire Magic Tree House Series by the end of that year and would wait with great anticipation for Mary Pope Osborne to release each new one in the series. We pretty much lived at Barnes and Noble.

I had worked with him for a long time on his letters and phonics, so I’m not sure why I didn’t see the next piece coming. But I didn’t  (I blame that on potty training brain, too).  One particular errand running day (before he started kindergarten) we went to the grocery store, but instead of going into the Liquor Store, we left and began the drive home. It was then that (from the back seat) the 5-year-old Owl yells, “Mommy, wait! Don’t you need to go to the Liquid Store?!”

WAIT-WHAT??!?! How do you know what it’s called?! Did you read that?! And oh crap, are you telling your teacher and friends that your mommy takes you to the grocery store and then the Liquid Store for suckers?!  

I wasn’t sure whether to be mortified that I had conditioned him to this liquor store routine or amazed that he had actually gotten the “qui” put together  from reading the sign out front or laugh at his very literal interpretation of the word he was reading.

So, I defaulted to another one of my motherhood survival tools: venting/sharing… and I called my mom, dad, sister and brother to share with them that their grand-son/nephew was a genius..  and that child protective services may be contacting them soon to take my children and check me into Betty Ford.

Yep..add this to the list of mortifying, I-can’t-believe-I-did-that MOM-fessions:  I’m the mom who taught her kid to read via the Liquor (Liquid) Store sign.

And yes, when my kid asks me what word did he first read, I will have to tell him that – technically – it was Liquor. To this very day, our entire family no longer uses the word “liquor”, but instead, it is always “The Liquid Store.”

Now, don’t worry. This isn’t the end of the Liquid Store stories..  by any stretch of the imagination.  Stay tuned for the next installment. It gets even better. And more mortifying. I may actually need to have a drink and say a prayer before I confess the next edition of the Liquid Store Chronicles…

(To be continued…)

* I’m not sure which thing has produced more nightmares in  my motherhood: Grocery shopping, Potty Training, or Weaning!

** I was just informed by a friend from the Northeast that some of you don’t know what I mean when I say “sucker”.. but that’s the Southern way of saying lollipop.

*** It wasn’t a big town.. it’s a wonder that word didn’t make its way around not to approach the crazy “I’m-sorry Lady” with the light-weight champ, disguised as a cute little toddler. (Can I call her a toddler if she wasn’t officially walking at age one?)

**** Oh how different each kid is.. one reads before kindergarten and another struggles to read in 2nd grade.

Not Quite Abbey Road (or Barefoot and Dis-shoveled Beach Play…On Wordless Wednesday)

{Joining in on Wordless Wednesday}

Checking In

Well, you can tell that the pace of life has picked up since our Spring Break adventures, because I still haven’t finished and posted my follow up on my Amazing Easter gift. Or much of anything else for that matter.

Oh so many blog post ideas have popped into my head, been started in Word Documents and not yet finished. Story of my life. Great ideas and intentions, but not always the most timely execution. That’s me, though, and we each have strengths that out-weigh our weaknesses. Though that particular weakness may drive some of my “get it done” friends crazy, I’m glad they (and you) stick with me anyway.

I’ll be 40 in a few short months, and one thing I am growing to love about this age (you already know that there are things about it that frustrate me, as well) is that I have gotten to a place where I know my strengths and my weaknesses. And even better, I’m making friends with the things about myself that I used to dislike (saggy skin not included). It’s a much more peaceful life when I can name my weaknesses, laugh about them and not feel bad about myself in any way because of them. The more we are open about the areas where we may “slack”, the less of an issue they become. Now, that’s not to say we should throw our hands in the air and say “Oh well! That’s just me. I suck at being on time (or follow through).” But the more I talk about it, the more I’m aware of it — and that allows me to be constantly working on those areas – without beating myself up about them. Good stuff.

All that being said, the next few weeks (17 days of school left!!!) are a tad bit busy, and I may not be posting too much, but please check in with me anyway. I’ll do my best to get a few of my posts finished and up here in the next few weeks, and then I’ll be back and overly-wordy again before you know it!

P.S. (And on a completely NON-RELATED note) What makes me think I am capable of wearing white pants for an hour (where there is food or drink involved) without spilling something on them?

 

Hoodies and Lululemon – What We Wear is Not WHO We Are

Just a quick post to share an article I read this morning on Forbes.com.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2012/04/15/a-working-mom-defends-the-lululemon-stay-at-home-mother/

I LOVE the message I found in it: “We all have moments when we would gladly trade in our day for someone else’s….We each need to eliminate the caste system we have created in our heads based, in great part, on what people wear [or their job title]. We need to understand that clothing means very little. None of us lead the lives our appearance suggests.”

And just for the record, most days I would say that the biggest perk to being a SAHM for me is that I don’t have to get up at 5 a.m. to shower and dress professionally for the day before battling with the kids during the morning routine (aside from not having to cover my kids on their many sick days). Then on some days.. oh how I would love to be putting on a beautifully tailored suit and pumps.. but only if the suit was made of comfy Lululemon fabric.

 

The Pinterest Effect

I read another blog post this evening that I really liked. To preface the actual blog link, I have to admit that I’m a girl who LOVES me some Social Networks*.. Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are part of my daily life (well, most days).  And I may just have tried more than a handful of projects via Pinterest.  I also can’t deny posting at least one of my own DIY project photos to Pinterest. So.. I’m in no way saying that Pinterest (or the fun projects and good ideas we can get from it) is a bad thing.

None the less, this blog makes a really good point.

It’s all too easy to look at other people from the “outside” and be led to believe that they have it all together. In turn feeling less than stellar about our own motherhood. It’s exacerbated by the presence of the social  networks we so dearly love, because it makes these “over-achieving motherhood moments” seem all too commonplace. I would venture to guess that these moms who post their DIY projects** and fancy cakes, also have seen the laundry pile up at some point in their motherhood***.  And certainly at some point in their motherhood they have at least entertained the idea of feeding their kids cereal for dinner when dad is out-of-town. They just don’t post pictures about the dinners that follow a Captain Crunch theme or the cakes that were brought to their table courtesy of Betty Crocker. (Or my favorite, those  Warm Delights where you “just add a teaspoon of water and microwave for 30 seconds”. Makes me happy with no effort. Don’t judge.)

{By the way, why don’t we share those things more often? I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I will repeat it in posts to come,  –  I believe we do ourselves AND  other moms a disservice when we only show or talk about our super achievements, the happy moments and the successes.. how much better would we all feel about our own lack of pinterest-picture-worthy lives if we heard – and saw – more about the mundane, everyday failures, frustrations, and slacker-stuff? }The truth is our kids would rather have us playing a board game with them than spending that time hand-making one for them. And my kids are the most excited about Kraft Mac n Cheese night than any fancy recipe I may have seen on Pinterest and served them. I don’t believe that the motherhood (or at least not mine) is meant to be a perfect, beautiful monogrammed burlap wreath (as much as I love those gorgeous things and WANT them on my front doors!) — in reality it’s more of a “I wish I could pull a burlap sack over my head” kind of lifestyle.

So, back to the actual blog post that prompted all this talk, check it out at motherhoodmatters.com and don’t miss the question and challenge at the end!  http://motherhoodmatters.blogs.deseretnews.com/2012/04/10/your-children-want-you/

“QUESTION: How do you keep the right perspective on your importance to your family–in the midst of so many ideas and temptations to compare yourself with others?

CHALLENGE: Recognize any tendencies you might have to get wrapped up in discouragement, and set up a regular way to remind yourself that your children want you.”

After thinking about it, a little less Pinterest in my particular motherhood and a little more of my kids’ interests might just be a good thing. (I’m not going cold turkey or anything, because it’s good stuff!)

Plus, too much Pinterest makes me want to eat everything in the house.. and I try, even though I never am quite satisfied, because NOTHING I have in this house (yes, even my beloved Warm Delights) could possibly taste as good as those crazy recipes for homemade Gnocchi Mac & Cheese that I drool over, post to my “Recipes to Try” board and will likely NEVER actually attempt to cook . Because they made pasta that comes in a box with cheese already measured out. That’s just too easy to pass up. (Now, the link is here, so if one of you needs to super achieve in the kitchen – if it just plain makes you happy – and you want to try your hand at that Gnocchi, I will gladly eat it for you and give you positive feedback.)

* Yes, I know it isn’t grammatically correct, but it felt better this way.

** I guess that includes me, though I am completely happy owning the fact that the majority of my cooking comes from a box or a can — and I embrace any respectable short cut that saves me time.

*** And if they don’t, I guarantee you they are fast tracking themselves to the loony bin.

Silly String Wars, Lemonade Stands, and Chocolate for Breakfast

In other words: Spring Break.

Today is the first day the kids are back in school after a 10 day long Spring break. Brace yourselves for the next sentence.

I was NOT ready for them to go back.

I know. That’s sick, right?

Every mom – especially one who is attempting to maintain a sense of self in the midst of motherhood – should be jumping for joy at the sight of that big yellow bus coming to pick them up, right?

Not so for me this time. —  I’m as shocked as you are.

As you can tell from the lack of blogging in the last two weeks, I got totally lost in the motherhood (family), and here’s the thing..I loved it. Really loved it.

Actually our break from the regular routine began a little early, as my kids’ wonderful Grandmother came in town to visit the Wednesday prior to Spring Break beginning. So we’ve had almost two weeks of solid fun. Which also meant two weeks of blog-free living for me. WOW.. talk about a worth-while break from blogging! {Soon there will be a real blog to follow this one that delves more into the incredible things we experienced in the last two weeks…}

That’s just part of the balance we seek in our motherhood, I suppose. When to turn off the world and go all-in to the motherhood.. and when to come back out and find a little of myself  again. Today I get back to doing a few things for just me. If there is one thing I have learned so far in my search for that balance is that I should NEVER feel guilty for stopping every now and then and feeding my soul. Whether it be prayer time or expanding my mind or just plain fun me time.  It’s good for me and in turn, makes me a better mom. So, today, I’m taking MY OWN Spring Break – that has nothing to do with my motherhood.

I’m headed out to meet my sister for a day at the beach.  (And counting my blessings that I’m able to do so.)

Then tonight I’ll be loving mom with lots more patience and energy.

The World Has Gone Mad – And Taken Me With It {or.. Falling Out of the Coconut Tree}

 {I’ve been writing this post for weeks. I promised in another recent post that it was coming. But it’s not an easy one. It’s sort of a controversial topic in the world of parenting. But this is about being honest about my motherhood struggles, and this is a major one for me. So, all I could do here is be completely honest about myself. My thoughts, my feelings, my family’s struggles. That’s just want I’ve done.  Disclaimer: it’s long and has some content that everyone will not agree with. Love me anyway, please.}

To quote myself sometime around 2009: “I know it’s normal in this day and age for families’ lives and schedules to revolve around their children’s sports and activities, but that doesn’t  mean it’s right. In fact, it’s ridiculous. RI-DIC-U-LOUS! I’m not, I repeat – not – doing it.”

**It’s now 2012**

For the last two years I have not made plans with my extended family to attend our annual Thanksgiving tradition, the Egg Bowl (Football tradition: My Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. the University of MS) because I had to wait and see if my daughter’s competition cheer squad was going to be in the regional cheer competition that weekend in Orlando.

Worse yet? On Thanksgiving Day, 2010 we left our house in Florida – full of extended family in from Mississippi and Georgia – and schlepped our family of 5 on a two-hour drive to Orlando. Not for fun. But instead, so we could check in at the hotel in time for my (at the time) 8-year-old to run through a practice on the day before competition. (Practice. On Thanksgiving Day.)

Seriously. Family tradition at Thanksgiving vs. 8/9-year-old Cheer? And cheer wins?!

— And let’s not even start on the loss of the sanctity of Sunday as a family day. I completely caved on this.. and Sundays – for us – are about church and family. Or they were.  Kids’ sports won again. Not OK.

Who is ridiculous now?

That would be me.

Now obviously since my prime example here includes the fact that my extended family’s get-togethers revolve around a sporting event, you know I am a sports fan. I was raised in it. Some of my fondest memories as a kid and as an adult are tied to sporting events. Especially football. And I was a cheerleader myself (and a gymnast and a swimmer.. and early on, I was a dancer), so yes, I enjoy all of it.

However, I don’t want to be consumed with my kids’ sports. I don’t want to spend years never seeing my husband or sitting down for a family meal because we’re moving in three different directions at ALL times trying to get everyone to all of their different activities. I don’t want to lose perspective. I don’t want to spend a fortune on traveling to a 9-year-old’s sports competitions. I don’t want to be too busy to be a good friend or to spend important holidays with our family. I don’t want to tell my FAMILY that their schedules to see us have to revolve around an ever-changing youth sports program’s calendar. I don’t want to let fun family traditions fall by the wayside, because we’re too busy to make them a priority. I don’t want to give in to this crazy notion that kids have to play serious sports now or they will not have a shot at doing so later.. and I really resent that this point is mostly true. I don’t want to abandon everyone who has mattered in my life, because I have to go “all-in” to my kids’ sports in order for them to have a shot at “playing”.. much less being GOOD at it.

OK, let’s just go ahead and tell the truth. There’s that something inside of every parent that has the potential to get competitive. There’s that part in there that really wants their kid to be the outstanding performer on the squad/team. I’ll admit there’s even that thing inside of me that made me run up and down the sidelines at my son’s football games, yelling like a crazy coach.. so much so that one of my fellow cheer moms who caught a glimpse of my football-mom style told me I reminded her of “that chick in The Blind Side.” Ugh.

But I wonder many times, what am I teaching them if I say yes to everything – every sport they want to play? Am I doing them a dis-service if they go through childhood thinking the answer to everything is yes and that their parents will pay any price (monetarily or sacrificially) to get them what they want.

How are they going to handle it later in life when their mom and dad aren’t there to blow the household budget on them, just to make sure that all the extra lessons, private classes, and best preparation and equipment are at hand to help them be the best?

How are they going to handle it when they don’t “get it all” later in life?

How will they know how to deal with being second? Or being last?

This whole thing we’ve gotten ourselves into with the over-scheduling of our kids – the part where we just keep piling it on.. “Advancing” their skills early. Thinking ahead about what they need to do now to get that sports scholarship later.. or to make the team, or to be the cheer captain. Planning their futures and making real life decisions when they are 5  that are based on them having potential sports careers later?! Focusing on how to keep them ahead and going to any lengths to keep them from falling behind their peers.

————————————————-

It reminds me of one of my kids’ favorite books from when they were little, “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”. Do you know it? The one where the little letter ‘a’ kind of taunts everyone and they all race to see who can get to the top of the coconut tree first or fastest – something like that.  Anyway, we all used to love to read it – the rhyme and rhythm of the verse was soothing and fun. It kind of sucked you in.* But I never thought about what was really going on in the little story until now. Our copy of it is well worn. My kids know the book by heart.

————————————————

In December we were faced with a choice –a horrible, no good choice – when my daughter, The Pelican’s competitive year round cheer squad disbanded and most of its coaches and players moved to an All-Star cheer gym. My husband said the decision was simple. If she was going to have wear glitter and fake lashes on her eyes, bare her stomach and spend every Friday and Sunday at the cheer gym, we. were. out.

But in truth, the decision wasn’t that cut and dry. Nowhere near it. The truth is that my once extraordinarily shy, full of stage fright, and lacking in self-confidence child had found herself in this sport. I mean really found herself. The dancing and performing that she used to (shyly) do in her room ONLY when she thought no one was looking, finally had a place out in the open. The goal-driven kid had a place where she could set, achieve, and exceed her own goals. There’s something pretty wonderful about seeing my kid step up to every challenge given to her.. that pride she feels in her achievement couldn’t have surpassed mine.

The confidence she’s gained in herself. That part. Oh, now that part is priceless. For her. She needed it. It makes me happier and more proud than any success on the field or court or floor ever could. Those are the real triumphs.. the ones where they build some piece of their character that they’ll carry forward throughout their lives.

And she never – not once – even through 5-days-a-week practices and extraordinary pressure –- never even looked like she might complain. She loved every second of it.

Except maybe when her pre-performance nerves were so bad they caused her to feel (and at times get) sick to her stomach.

And the part when she started stressing out in school, because her mind was solely focused on cheer… and her grades were slipping. My self-driven, over-achieving student almost cried when she saw a C on her report card. (This, does NOT come from me. I happen to be quite comfortable in the world of C’s. {Smile})

But those pieces were too hard for me as a mom to ignore. No matter how great the feelings were when she was elated by her triumph.. I wasn’t Ok with the level of pressure she was feeling, even if it was self-imposed.

I researched, and I talked with her and my husband. And the other cheer moms. And my family. And with God.

I went to websites like these:

http://livefitblog.com/2010/03/15/how-parents-are-hurting-their-child-athletes/

http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/growing/child_too_busy.html#

I read the pros and cons. I searched for a clear answer to my dilemma. To cheer or not to cheer.

She, of course – as the cooperative child that she is – said, “whatever you think is best, Mom. I do love it. It’s my Thing. But if it is just temporary, I really don’t mind a little break.”

I guess hoping that she would help me make a clear decision isn’t the best parenting. Surely at age 9 she doesn’t know what is best for her, but really.. her perfectly Switzerland-ish response, didn’t help me one bit, except to affirm that she has a good head on her shoulders; which I already knew.

WHAT TO DO?!

And then it happened. Like that part in “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”, where the tree gets completely overloaded past the point of being able to hold its ground, breaks, and the whole alphabet comes crashing down…

I was dropping her off to play at her cheer-buddy’s house after the last competition.. and when asked by cheer-buddy’s mom (and my friend) what we were going to do, I inexplicably broke into tears.

Not pretty, misty eyed tears… but the ugly, snotty, almost hyperventilating kind. Full. On. Crying.

I had no idea that the tears were coming.

Where did they come from?

And why wouldn’t they STOP?!

What the hell is wrong with me? I’m crying over whether or not to let my 9-year-old child take part in cheerleading?

This was ridiculous. I sat in the car in their driveway crying like I had just lost a loved one – and all over a cheer decision?! I could hear my own “RI-DIC-U-LOUS” quote playing like 8-count cheer in my head.

Clearly, my decision was made.  We needed a break. We ALL needed a break. We needed to step away, regroup, breathe, and I  needed to get some perspective. She didn’t need a mom who was walking the line of sanity because I was overloaded. Having a mom who is stable enough not to be uncontrollably snotty-crying in her friend’s driveway was more important at that moment than cheer. It just was.

The break has been good. It really has. Again –  like deep yoga breathing for me. And her grades are up.. she’s never sick anymore. Hasn’t complained of a stomach ache in 2 months, and we have family time! We hang out with our neighbors and their kids spontaneously. We sit down at dinner around the same table at the same time and we talk. We tell about our favorite things each day. We have been a real, normal, Norman Rockwell (yeah, I know I’m pushing it) painting kind of family.

It sounds like we have this thing figured out based on that last paragraph, doesn’t it?

Do you remember the last page of the “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” book where:

“ A is out of bed,

and this is what he said,

“Dare double dare,

you can’t catch me.

I’ll beat you to the top

Of the coconut tree…”

…And there comes that sneaky little ‘a’ again. Making you realize that no sooner than all the Mommas and Poppas and Uncles and Aunts finish picking up the kids dusting off their pants, the whole crazy cycle up the tree starts again.  You start to get the feeling in the book that it will go on infinitely.

Well. Here we are. March is upon us. Next month is April. Know what happens in April? Cheer tryouts and registration.

You know what else has happened in the last few weeks?

Boredom. From my Pelican (NOT FROM ME). She’s walking around the house going through the motions of her cheer routine from their National Championship competition. And questions. Lots of them. From the Pelican cheerleader. Asking when she is going to go back to cheer.

Week before last I found her on the laptop looking through the end of the year CD with all of their photos and competition videos on it. She even wore her “Unfinished business” cheer t-shirt today.

Once again I find myself attempting to find the right balance in my  motherhood– this time though, it’s about attempting to find the right balance in the amount (and intensity) of structured activity that’s appropriate for my kids. I haven’t found the answer yet, because as I type I also have search windows open researching availability of tumbling classes and workshops. I’m right back where I started. Decision time again.

Sigh.

I’m beginning to think that the name of this blog should have been “The Balancing Act”.

* Not to mention that it helped them learn the alphabet.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: