I’m a bad mother. I must be. I know mothers who spend their days working full-time, and then come home and make huge, multi-course dinners (from scratch, naturally) for their families. They taxi their children to this or that sport or lesson or extracurricular activity, serve on school committees, go to the gym regularly, help with homework, fundraise, organize bake sales and produce straight-A students, all while looking like they just stepped off the cover of Vogue.
I admit it. On occasion, I have harbored the tiniest bit of envy in my heart when I see their posts on social media, extolling their praises upon their brilliant children for making honor roll yet again. I always wonder, however, when I’m feeling particularly snarky, what dark demons must inhabit their externally blissful homes. No one’s that perfect. Every family has its share of problems. Or maybe I’m just bitter.
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It’s a lot to live up to. I’m lucky if I can motivate myself to take a shower and change out of yoga pants each day, let alone whip up some homemade beef stroganoff, with a side of blanched asparagus and marinated baby carrots, and a salad of fresh greens picked from my own organic garden. Oh, and don’t forget the hand-peeled fresh fruit for dessert. Sorry, not gonna happen.
That’s not to say, however, that I’m completely devoid of involvement in my children’s rearing, education, and feeding. I’m no stranger to taxi duty. I’ve shuttled my kids to and from soccer practices and games for 15 years, cheering on all their wins, and hugging out all the losses. And I’ve worked full-time since I was 18. But that’s where the similarities end.
I’m not a great cook, so I cut corners as much as possible, while still producing admittedly less fancy, yet edible dinners for my family. I’ve only volunteered at my children’s schools on very rare occasions, usually when I feel guilted into it. I’m not a joiner, so I’ve never served on boards, or organized events. I help with homework when I can, although I would like to add here that today’s math concepts are far beyond my humble comprehension.
My children were never top students. Their grades have ranged from poor to average. They’re both very intelligent, but they can be extremely lazy. I vaguely remember being “the mother of an honor roll student” for one fleeting semester in middle school. But both were too concerned with whatever social drama was happening around them. In fact, when our eldest daughter graduated from high school with only mediocre grades, we were stunned when she was accepted into all six colleges to which she applied.
That being said, there are times when I watch my children and I realize, I’m not such a bad mother after all. Our daughters, who are now 19 and 14, are smart, funny, confident women. They’re loving and generous. And there have been situations where they’ve stepped in and stood up for others. They’ve made plenty, and I mean PLENTY, of bad decisions (the older one in particular; the younger still has a few years to go), but they’ve made a lot of good decisions, too. They’re both leaders, and their peers look up to them.
Most importantly, they know they’re loved and valued. They’re not spoiled; we never believed in giving them everything they asked for (not that we could afford to, anyway), so they appreciate things more than if we had handed everything to them. They were taught good manners and how to practice politeness and gratitude. They may not have been straight-A students (or straight-B students, for that matter) but I feel confident that they’ll turn out to be pretty amazing students of life.