My daughter asked me on Tuesday if I could come to lunch at school this week. When I told her I didn’t have time, I got, “You never come to school!” Apparently, “never” doesn’t include helping her class in the library every Monday, editing stories in her classroom last week, or leading her girl scout troop for the third year in a row. I’m at the twins’ school so much, one of my son’s friends asked if I worked there.
I’m convinced that even if I were to give the kids ice cream whenever they wanted it and unlimited iPad time every day and candy in their lunch boxes (while I sat with them in the school cafeteria watching them eat), it would never be enough. So I’m redefining what it means to be mother of the year. This year, I’m going to win.
Listen. When my kids talk, even if it is about Justin Bieber, I need to listen. I need to put the phone down and concentrate on what they are saying. I’ll admit that this one is difficult for me sometimes, especially while cooking dinner. But I’m working on it.
Show up. Yes, I go to all the things, but if I’m being honest, I’m not always really there. Sometimes, I’m distracted by what’s going on in life. Sometimes, I’m distracted by my phone. Really, this one isn't all that different from listening. Lots of work to do here.
Take care of yourself. We hear this all the time, but how many of us do it? Work out. Get some sleep. Watch old episodes of “The West Wing” instead of checking things off your list. Eat ice cream for lunch. Do the things that work for you. I’m not willing to give up an exercise class or an extra hour of work to go to lunch with my child every week and that's going to have to be ok.
Be interested. Yes, of course you should be interested in your kids, but there is also a whole world out there to explore. This mother of the year is going to read things, ask questions, go to museums, go outside, learn from strangers… I want my kids to know that they are part of a bigger world and encourage them to discover it.
Have a sense of humor. Play really is a good for the soul. So is not taking yourself too seriously. Getting defensive isn't going to win any trophies, so I'm committing to letting the imperfection of my parenting skills be enough and laughing about it as much as possible.
So there you have it. That is how I plan to win the Mother of the Year trophy this year. Wait. You came here for decorating advice? We will get back to that next week, I promise.