I swear 15 years of selfless — and entirely decent — parenting and I will probably be remembered for the time our daughter went to her sporting event alone, was locked out of her own home and ended up sleeping on a table in a (semi) public place.
Recently I had a very pressing commitment to a “must do” work related activity (which I love). This meant that for the first time ever I had to tell GirlWonder (who I love more) that not a single member of our family would be able to attend her track meet.
I was working. Mr. Wonderful was working. BoyWonder (he’s like a teen parent of an almost 16-year-old girl) was working. Even Cute Boyfriend had to work (I think some days he and BoyWonder share custody).
She assured us that she could probably manage to long jump without us. I was skeptical. Where would she be without my “nice hustle!” and “great job babe!” Encouragement? Did something even happen if it’s not in the scrapbook?
Still, she went to track and I dove into work feeling like they might just call me for the cover of Working Mother any day now. Then a few hours later she called to say that after catching a ride home, (thanks, Villagers!) she found herself locked out of her own home. (Note to self: Give Villagers — and GirlWonder — a new spare key).
This is how my youngest child ended up staggering into my workplace in her track uniform, exhausted. She finished her homework in the break room and dozed off on the table. I think everyone who went in there had to announce this to me “you know she’s sleeping in there right?”
I prefer to do all my worst parenting in front of a live audience, thank you very much. Forgive being her father’s child she is equal parts laid back and forgiving. Thank you Lord.
What she doesn’t do is forget. When I lamented, sadly, that she was definitely going to want a guest column to write about this, she added brightly “and let’s not forget about the time you forgot me!” BoyWonder, for his part, chimes in with “I can talk about my scar!”
For him, all the 800-word essays about the good times, love and fun parenting I’ve managed to document can be balanced by one tiny trump card: his beer bottle scar.
Your child finds — and breaks — one discarded beer bottle as a toddler (resulting in three tiny stitches) and you will never live it down. This is the problem with being a writer. I wrote about it. It’s on record. A savvier parent would have sworn up and down he cut himself falling out of a church pew. These are the stories they remember.
There is a reason I am both the No. 1 Mom cheering every loss as equally as victory even as I fully admit I take a reclining chair to soccer games (mama needs her rest).
I think you can be both selfless — and selfish — in parenting sometimes. Let’s be frank, if we are too perfect our children will have nothing to one up their friends with when they compare childhoods. If your parents didn’t muck it up, at least a little, who are you going to blame for any shortcomings? We are doing them a service really.
If Cute Boyfriend ever wonders why it is imperative that GirlWonder know when you are “on the way” he need look no further than this column to understand.
We love that child to the moon and back — we also have forgotten her a few times. If BoyWonder is still a bit skittish around beer bottles, I’m OK with that.
Mother of the year
I have joked that I’m going to have to give up my “World’s Best Mom Mug.” Do they make one that says “Momentarily Best Mom?” “World’s OKest Mom” maybe?
Last week when I had moments of feeling like I was failing at parenting, I also spent endless hours giving what I hope was wise counsel, hand holding and hugs. Everyone had meals and (mostly) clean socks. They always knew where to find me and know in their hearts that if it was ever truly serious — they always come first.
I may not be Mother of the Year, but when necessary I am the best darned Mother of the Moment they will ever have.
I’m there for the big things while teaching them that they are strong and capable and can handle the small. Small things become big things and someday I won’t be there to unlock doors — both figuratively and literally.
I’ve given up all hope of winning Mother of year, I am happy with Mother of the Moment.
Think of the stories they can tell.
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