Sunday, May 23, 2010

What do we do?

I ran across this article in from the Washington Post the other day and thought I would share.  I found it very insightful, especially considering the insanity of my own particular brand of motherhood the past two weeks, which translates into no blog posts . . .

The author's words about the daily influence we have on our children really struck me, and I'm learning as my kids get older that it's our example and ongoing conversation with these little creatures that is ever so important.  Here is the following unforeseen "mom duties" I have been attending to the past couple weeks (this is the short list of everything that didn't include the daily feeding, washing, clothing, and driving my children require):

  • A dead pet.  Yes, Miffy, our little bunny who thought it was a dog, bit the dust a couple weeks ago.  I received a call from our neighbor (who found Miffy dead on her lawn) while picking out a birthday party gift with three of the kids.  I told her to put the bunny in a bag and we'd come get it when we get home.  Sophie, unfortunately got off the bus alone, discovered our dead pet on our porch, and seemed to handle the trauma surprising well until I could make it home.  My duty:  keep calm, dole out long hugs to those who loved Miffy (everyone but Liza - she was thrilled the pest was gone), explain the purpose of life and death, and oversee the digging of Miffy's grave and funeral service (where Liza happily decorated the headstone).

  • Disappointments.  Later that evening, Caroline competed in her first G14 (girls age 13-15) tennis tournament where she was defeated quickly by an East HS varsity player.  My Duty:  offer as much encouragement as possible that she is a good tennis player, tell her she played great (while at the same time she tells me she played horrible), and continue to encourage her never to give up and try again.

  • Agency.  Learning a few days later that our children have their agency.  We can teach, direct, listen, offer advice, encourage, love, sacrifice, etc., but the hard part is realizing that our children will at times ignore our wise counsel and make their own decisions.  My Duty:  Continue to love, despite disappointment.  Forgive without bringing up the past.  Move forward without blaming myself, or even worse, thinking I've failed as a parent.

  • When the world crashes down on a 12-year old.  Realizing that it's not "just 7th grade" or "just dance company," but when making the Jr. High School Dance Company means everything to your daughter, and when her two best friends made it and she was cut, it was the end of the world.  Tears, tears, and more tears.  I've never seen Caroline so distraught, but I've also never seen her so resilient.  My Duty:  Stay positive, be her greatest supporter and cheerleader, continue to tell her she is a beautiful dancer and there just must have been a mistake made in the judging ;-).  And most important, let her know that life goes on and sometimes life just doesn't seem fair, but she'll be a stronger person for the experience.

  • Injuries:  Mine.  I don't function well if I am incapacitated and I can't be the mother my kids need.  On Wednesday this week I woke up to terrible pain in my foot after a long tennis match the night before.  I had been feeling slight pain for a few weeks, but refusing to rest and stay off my foot, I continued to run (even participated in a 5k race), hike, and play tennis.  Now I was done for, thought I had a stress fracture by the way my toes were swelling and how the slightest painful touch about did me in, and believed I had no hope now to train for my first marathon this fall.  My Duty:  REST (impossible) and stay off my feet and try my hardest not to be a grouch around the kids and anyone else . . . stay positive (ya, right), oh, and make a dr. appt. ASAP!  The one bright spot of my week - it's just inflamed joints, refraining from any weight bearing exercise for two weeks and some meds should heal my foot . . . phew, I can be a mom again :-).

  • Attention.  Something my little girls were going without considering everyone else's struggles of the week, as well as the ongoing process of trying to sell the home.  Homework assignments, spelling lists, and book reports were forgotten, one on one time was non-existent, and they had to rely on each other for company during these weeks that also included Caroline's spring dance performance, Ryan's end of season LAX stuff, school fundraisers, etc.  My Duty:  Try to make time, and we did.  Yesterday we took off for a movie ("How to Train your Dragon" - if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it) and lunch, then a relaxing Sunday and time together as a family - a nice weekend and the girls once again felt important.
So, in answer to the writer's question of what we do all day: well, it goes beyond anything I could have ever imagined even 10 years ago.  It is constant nurturing, teaching, loving, forgiving, protecting, reassuring, and many hugs and kisses thrown in for good measure.  It requires an amazing amount of patience, humility, faith, and hope . . . which many days I'm not sure I have enough, but somehow I do and realize that motherhood molds women into pillars of strength that cannot be found in any other occupation, and I am eternally grateful for that opportunity.


Michelle said...

Julie—Quantity does not equal quality. You don't need to post everyday for two weeks, because you tell the story beautifully in just one. I love the article! And you are such a great mom. So hard to see your kids suffer though! You didn't even mention all the stress of having your house on the market. I hope you do have ten minutes for yourself, but knowing you, you probably would call a friend. :)

Melissa said...

That is a great article. I have to admit that there are a lot of days when I ask myself, "What did I do today?" because there are no obvious, outward signs of progress. But I know that I am busy all day long. Thanks for sharing!

Nici said...

Did Bailey eat Miffy??

Kelly said...

Kevin and I both love Carolyn Hax. We both love you more! Way to be the super mom of all time. Jackie O. ain't got NOTHING on you.

Kristin said...

you've had a rough week. Sorry about your foot. How are you doing at 'staying off it'? lol. I bet you haven't slowed down a bit.
I had a 'free agency' issue w/ one of mine last month. It really threw me. Hard.

We need to have lunch.