Over Christmas break my grandson was visiting for a few days.
One morning, my daughters asked him if he wanted to go sledding, a no-brainer-question for a 3-year-old. At the last minute, the girls recruited their brother to go sledding because they wanted to walk the dog. “I don’t want to go sledding,” the 17-year-old said.
“A potted plant is more active than you have been the past five days,” I remarked, “It will be good for you to get some fresh air.”
“Why do I have to go sledding when it was the girls’ idea? I don’t want to go.”
“Well, I have done a lot of things as a mom that weren’t my choice. I did them because I love you, and so I could make you feel guilty later.”
It is true. There are definitely mom tasks I wish I could have skipped. One was tucking in the kids at bedtime. When the kids were little, I was religious about our bedtime routine. A bath, if needed, a story or two, then I would tuck the cherubs into bed. I was free at last. With the last couple of kids, I did a group read in the living room and then the kids would go upstairs to brush their teeth, change into PJs, and wait for me to tuck them into bed.
By the time all the kids were in their beds, I was often “resting my eyes” on the couch. “Mom, are you coming up?” “Yeah, I’ll be right there.” “Zzzzz.” “Mom, you coming?” “Yep, I’m coming.” “MOMMMM!” “How about I tuck you in twice tomorrow?” I was exhausted by bedtime and going upstairs seemed equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest. I should have just given them a morning hug and kiss which is when I had energy, before it was sucked away by the endless demands, squabbles, and daily chores.
Another parental requirement was to serve as the tooth fairy. This custom apparently originated with the Vikings, and the fairy would provide a gift for only the first lost tooth, but like so much these days, it has expanded and now the expectation is that the fairy makes an appearance for every blasted baby tooth. The unfortunate thing is the tooth fairy’s appearance was not a planned event like Santa or the Easter bunny. When a kid loses a tooth at 10 a.m. it is a little unrealistic to think that after the endless demands, squabbles, and daily chores that a mom is going to remember to fulfill this duty 12 hours later or have any cash on hand.
“Mom, the tooth fairy didn’t come last night.” Great, not only do I have to remember to be the tooth fairy, I have to come up with a quick story regarding the pixie’s absence. “Oh, um, I heard something about there being a fairy convention in Philadelphia this week.” The next morning, “Mom, the tooth fairy still didn’t come.” “Really? Um, I wonder if it could have something with you messing around in bed last night. She probably thought you aren’t interested in earning some discretionary cash.”
That is a true functioning adult, blaming someone else for their mistakes. The next morning, “Mom?” Oh, for Pete’s sake, the Vikings are the worst. I could have taken a great vacation for all the money I paid out for those disgusting little teeth.
Parents often feel obligated to feign excitement over all their kids’ accomplishments over the years. Obviously at times this affirmation was warranted, but at other times, not so much. “Oh wow, honey. That is a great picture. It seems like you might be channeling your inner Picasso there with the legs coming out of the head. Let’s get that masterpiece on the fridge.” “Wow, that coloring is really great. I love how you didn’t limit yourself to the oppressive lines that actually create the picture.”
And there is no other time when a parent deserves an Academy Award than when their child begins practicing a musical instrument. For my children, their introduction to band was with the dreaded recorder. I bought a recorder with the first kid, and that recorder was safely hidden like gold bars until the next child needed it. One time, I hid the auditory torture device so well that I was unable to locate it. The very last thing a mom needs is two recorders. The child would practice “Hot Cross Buns” or “Mary Had a Little Lamb “minute after excruciating minute.
Of course, the recorder was a novelty to them, so they were super excited to squeak out some sounds. Never were they so obedient about following their homework instructions. In the meantime, my ears were bleeding. “Sweetheart, it is so great that you are practicing so faithfully, but Mommy has a headache. Would you mind practicing your recorder outside or at the neighbor’s or across the street or in Medford?” Not to toot my own horn, pun intended, but the fact that I endured seven children learning the recorder without hurting someone may prompt me for canonization consideration.
And finally, I have attended I don’t know how many sports banquets. Sometimes your kid grows up playing a sport with their friends and you become acquainted with all the families. Then the sports banquet serves as the first social gathering you have attended in six months. But at other times, your kid joins a sport out of the blue. Suddenly, you are invited to a dinner party with a bunch of strangers.
Some might take the sports banquet as an opportunity to meet new people, and in a perfect world, become lifelong friends. For me, when I am seated with a group of unfamiliar folks, I usually get a little anxious and share an embarrassing story. “Mom, for once, can you just nod and smile. I still want to have all my friends tomorrow morning.” At a sports banquet, it really is fabulous to hear nice things said about your own child, but as other players are announced, after an hour or so, you want things wrapped up.
This is especially challenging when your personal highlight happens at the start. As a “B” my kids are mentioned within the first few minutes. I try not to look at the time because I was raised as a “V,” meaning I spent a lifetime being painfully aware that parents were ready to leave long before my accolade was mentioned.
There are so many great moments about being a mom, but part of preparing your children for becoming parents themselves is to educate them about those less than glamorous moments. I am sure my children are grateful that I take that responsibility so seriously.