In truth, I don’t think More than Mommies needs any introduction. The powerhouse women, Christine and Janine, behind this engaging blog are beloved by so many. They rock out a sweet, encouraging space where moms can touch base, find a few laughs and draw strength from each other. I have been following ladies almost from their start, and I’m blessed to call them friends. I’m thankful for the inspiration they share and always leave their site feeling more connected with a smile on my face.
So head over there and say hello ASAP. After, of course, reading this beautiful story below from Christine. Thanks so much for sharing why you a Mom of the Year, Christine!
A couple of months ago we were all piled into the mom-mobile, on our way home from a family party, when my oldest decided to spark up a conversation from the very back seat. She always brings up the serious stuff right in the middle of a jam out session to Journey’s Faithfully…or some other rock ballad that I find it necessary to sing at the top of my lungs. But, no matter, in order to hear her tiny voice from the back seat and to claim my title as “Mom of the Year” it was imperative that we snap the radio off and get down to business. (Actually, I just turned the volume down and stopped singing. I think that still qualifies me for the title, right?)
The problem? She had that “Oh no! It’s Sunday Night!” feeling in the pit of her stomach.
You know the one: You would get it when you completely forgot that the project you were assigned six weeks ago was due the following day.
She had THAT Sunday night feeling.
Except it wasn’t Sunday Night. It was Saturday night…so I knew things were bad. Plus, this is a child who cried last year because an untimely stomach bug decimated her chance at a perfect attendance award a mere month before school let out. I never thought I would hear the phrase: “I don’t want to go to school” EVER escape her lips.
Yet here she was saying it…and my mama bear hackles were up.
Let me preface the rest of the story by saying that back in the day when I knew everything there was to know about raising a kid (before I actually had any) I made a conscious decision to never be the parent that says “Not MY child!” with a look of shock and horror that is quickly replaced with anger and self-righteous blaming of anyone who dare contradict my blame. I also decided that I would never be the parent who makes excuses for my child’s mistakes, or becomes an enabler, or does anything that would churn out another ill-mannered, self-centered, entitled human being.
Okay, so where were we? Oh yes, the part where, mentally, I was pointing my finger and spit-shouting like a raving mad woman into the face of whomever had decided to turn my daughter against going to her once beloved institution of learning.
My daughter was tearfully recounting an episode from the Monday before, when she was in her computer class: Her teacher gave the class instructions for finishing their project and at the end of it all he asked them to print it out and save their work. She “printed”, but she forgot to “save.” To me, this did not seem like such a big deal–I mean, it would be a pain in the butt to do the work over again if she had to, but tears?!?
By her account, this teacher is a little…hmm…gruff. “He yells really loudly and he gets so mad at us when we ask questions!”
“Oh, no he Di-int!” is what I thought.
“How dare this beast yell at these innocent children for no reason? Reducing little girls and boys to tears as he lunges at them, calls them names, and makes unreasonable demands of them!” My husband’s blood started pulsing upward as well–I think he was envisioning how satisfying it would feel to punch this ogre in the nose.
Oh, how quickly we forget those promises made in the days of child-free innocence…
Thank goodness I didn’t act on my first impulse. Somehow I had the clarity to know that we were all sitting at a crossroads moment here in our minivan on a cold, February evening.
Would we run to our first-born’s aid and rescue her from the snare of this monster? Or would we teach her how to slay this giant on her own?
In the mere seconds that it took for us to respond to our daughter’s tearful plea to stay home from school on Monday, I had to make a decision and I couldn’t believe how difficult it was.
In theory, we know which answer is best…but in practice it seems very reasonable to be the parent that says “Not MY child!” with a look of shock and horror. It seems very reasonable then to become angry and self-righteous. And it seems almost natural to begin making excuses for my child’s mistake.
The best way is not always the easiest way, and I scold my 20 year old self for being so judgemental. In this moment, I could understand why “those parents” do that. It’s natural to want to protect your child from harm (real AND perceived), come to their aid, and stick up for them always. When your nine year old is scared and teary eyed, it is really difficult not to villainize whoever is making her feel that way. (It has a lot to do with that unconditional love that good parents have for their kids.)
The reality is, our daughter needed to face this teacher–a man (not a monster) with a baby of his own at home, who teaches the same class all day and probably says the same thing 100 times every day of the week to kids who would much rather be watching youtube and “snap chatting” than learning how to make a powerpoint slide show (Sound familiar? how’s your patience, mom and dad?).
Owning her mistake and fixing it makes her a stronger person. Living in the moment instead of cowering in fear of a future moment that might not even happen makes her brave. Instilling confidence to speak up for herself instead of quivering behind her mommy and daddy makes her capable. Learning from HER mistake makes her smart.
So, we talked about it and armed her: “You made a mistake, so you offer to fix it.” We put her mistake into perspective. We humanized her teacher. “If you feel nervous, breathe, pray, meditate, ask God for help and he will give you strength”, we encouraged. We practiced what she should say and how her teacher might respond. And we sent her to school.
I worried and wondered all day. When I knew she would be heading to her computer class, I prayed for her. And when she got off the bus I was greeted with a smile. “It wasn’t so bad!” she said. The class had moved on. The projects had been graded and the teacher never even realized that she didn’t save her work that ONE time. But I can guarantee that she will click that floppy disk icon from here on out.
Mom of the Year? This time, I think I earned it (also probably saved my husband from assault charges). Yes. I definitely earned it!