Some might consider me a little bit of a mean mom.
I don’t scrapbook, take hundreds of pictures, make homemade birthday cakes, or even volunteer much at school. My kids do the chores that I hate to do; they vacuum and dust, and pack their own lunches. I don’t leave them loving notes in their backpacks or brag about their latest bowel movements on Facebook. If they want to buy something, they use their own money. I don’t plan weekly educational excursions. If they balk at something I plan on doing, I ignore their whining and tell them to get their shoes on RIGHT NOW. I do not like crafts. When they say, “I want to do a craft,” I direct them to the “craft cupboard,” where they can find some printer paper, a couple of stubby pencils, and a container half filled with dried-out markers. I don’t let them play until they finish their homework. I don’t make them separate meals at dinnertime - If they don’t like what we’re having, they can either eat it or there’s a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter in the pantry.
What I DO is make sure they have a clean home, healthy food to eat, and love and hugs and kisses and fun and jokes and a stern warning when I am about to laser-morph into Mommy Dearest. I confide in them that I make a lot of mistakes and that sometimes, they know more than I do about things. I let them sleep in on Saturdays. I make them hold hands when they fight too much, because it makes them giggle. I make them read books and turn off the TV and their electronics and say “for the love of PETE, that’s enough candy!” even if it really isn’t enough candy. There’s never enough candy. But that’s another story.
Do my kids appreciate all of this, despite the mistakes? Do they know to? I hope so. I think I’ve taught them that. The best way to know if I’ve taught them is if I model it for them. Do they see me appreciate all that I have? I hope so, but I can do better.
I love my kids. Most parents do. Sometimes we get confused about what that means – we think it means we need to “do” and “be” everything for them. I have clear personal limits that dictate how much I can do and be for my children. I have tried, and I have found that I cannot do or be all for them. I hope I am teaching them how to do and be for themselves. I hope they are happy with my role in their lives, and understand that even though I might be the Meanest Mom Ever at times, I have taught them mostly good stuff.