I’ve been tagged to take part in the Rocking Motherhood series by a total rockstar mom, Alisa of UKYankee. The idea of Rocking Motherhood started with Patricia at White Camellias as a way for mothers to look at the job they are doing, raising the next generation, and celebrate all the ways they’re killing it!
I have to be honest, here. The day I received the notification that Alisa had tagged me, I was having one of the worst days of my mothering career. (It’s OK if you read the word “mothering” in the previous sentence as a socially acceptable replacement for another, rather vulgar word that’s often used to add emphasis. That’s how it sounded in my head too.) (The vulgar word I’m referring to starts with “f” and rhymes with “sucking,” just in case that wasn’t clear.) (Oh, hell. I’ll just be straight forward and tell you it was the worst fucking day I’ve had in a month.) (Sorry, Mom.)
Aaaaanyway…So here I am, having this absolutely horrifying day. S had one of her many doctor appointments that morning. I can’t remember what I wrote down on the insurance form, but I’m pretty sure the purpose of this visit was to make me drive on Rt. 50 during rush hour and charge me $45 for the privilege of being glared at. The doctor we saw hates people being late with the passion of a thousand Beltway drivers, so naturally, we were late. Fourteen minutes late, to be exact. And since the doctor’s policy states that they allow for a 15 minute grace period, she had no choice but to give us the requisite patronizing disregard for any intelligence I might’ve thought I had previous to that day.
Obviously, spending 15 minutes with an arrogant doctor wasn’t enough to make my day truly terrible. For that, you have to add in S and R behaving like radioactive gorillas suffering from some retrograde developmental disorder that causes frequent screaming, grabbing of expensive medical equipment, and a Tourette’s-like shouting of potty words to Dr. Don’t-Be-Late. Not only did they refuse to obey when I scolded them for humiliating me and nearly causing thousands of dollars in damage, they flaunted their naughtiness. I had zero control over them. Zero. As soon as the doctor left the room (not because our visit was over, but because she couldn’t stand to be around my children any longer), I burst into tears.
Finally, we got out of that place so that I could cry in the privacy of my minivan with S asking me why I was crying and R obliviously asking for doughnuts. I got control of myself and drove home. Upon arriving, I checked Twitter, and there was Alisa’s notification. I was to write a post about ways in which I’m rocking motherhood.
I couldn’t think of a single one at that moment. My husband helpfully suggested that I include on my list the fact that I haven’t sent them off to the Pyongyang Military Institute. Yet. But since I thought that would be slightly less socially acceptable than putting an F bomb right at the start of my post, I decided to look to Alisa’s list for inspiration instead. So after a little thought, some deep breathing, and a few glasses of wine, I finally came up with a list of my own. So here it is, friends.
13 Awesome Reasons I am #ROCKINGMOTHERHOOD.
- I share my fails: And maybe even over-share a little? Seriously, though, I think it’s important for all of us moms to recognize that nobody’s life is perfect. We’re all struggling. I hope that by reading my story of the doctor appointment from hell, a few moms can nod their heads and go, “I’m not the only one.” But more importantly, I shared my feelings about the day with S and R. They saw me sobbing uncontrollably in the van. (And one of them even noticed!) Don’t get me wrong. There is a time and a place for being strong and brave for your kids even when you feel like dying inside, but it’s also important for them to see their mothers being human, and to be able to see how their own behavior affects us. Once I finally dropped S off at school, she hugged me, apologized, and seemed to feel really bad about hurting me. I hope that sunk in, at least a little.
- I make time for them. I am super-busy with blogging, freelance writing, networking, and taking care of the house. It would be easy to just let them play on their own and only come running out of my office when I smell smoke or hear a window break. But I don’t do that. I spend a lot of time with them, every day. I’m homeschooling R, helping the big girls with their homework, playing games, singing songs, and listening to endless ideas on how we could do real magic like Harry Potter. (I’m quite thankful that we’ve moved on from Odd Squad.)
- I make sure to have individual, special time with each of them. This might sound like I’m recycling #2, but I think this should count as another point. I’m not just spending a couple hours with the family each evening. I have book club with the girls. I take S for manicures. I’ve spent many hours having private conversations with E about crucially important dilemmas, like when should she start shaving her legs? R and I have homeschool, of course, but we’ve also spent many hours reading, snuggling, and playing basketball. And with G, my way-too-cute toddler, I read, sing, tickle, play, and recite all sorts of silly rhymes and games. I’m the Roder Kids’ Mom, but I’m also mommy to each individual kid, and I love that.
- I love their dad. Even though they squeal in mock disgust when the two of us kiss, I know that it’s important for them to see how much we love each other. Hopefully, they’ll look to us as an example of what their own relationships should look like when they’re older. Much older.
- I model friendliness and good manners. Friendliness sometimes gets overlooked as a quality to teach your children, but I think it affects so much of our lives and personalities. Whether I’m out shopping, at a party, a school event, or a meeting, I greet everyone I see with a smile. I say please and thank you. I ask them how they’re doing and make jokes. (Even at doctor appointments!) When people view you as a nice person, it makes everything so much easier. Relationships are important, even with virtual strangers. Other people contribute a LOT to how your day will go, and it helps if they see you as a nice person.
- I’m involved with their school. I have regular conversations with everyone from their teachers, to the principal, guidance counselor, secretaries, and everyone in between. I’m on the PTA, I volunteer in classrooms, work events, and donate so much stuff I can’t keep it straight. If something’s going on at school, I know about it, and chances are, I’m there. My kids WILL get a good education, dammit! 🙂
- I cook healthy food almost every night. Everyone has the odd night where they have to just do take out because they ran out of time, including me. But most of the time, I’m cooking healthy, fresh food for them every day. And all of my kids have good eating habits. I’ve always encouraged them to eat their vegetables before the rest of their dinner, and their fruit before the rest of their lunch. They’ve gotten so used to it, it’s like second nature to them. Of course I get complaints about dinners sometimes, but for the most part, they like what I cook, they eat it, and they’re healthy. You can’t ask for much more than that.
- I give them time to just veg out and do nothing. Kids need time to be bored. They need unstructured time when they’re not participating in a planned activity, doing homework, or working toward some goal. Time to just be kids. I make sure that they get that, every day, no matter what else is going on.
- I encourage them to love each other. Some of my best memories of my life involve my siblings, especially my sister. I want my kids to grow up with each other as best friends. I think it’s working. Sometimes it seems like they might want to send one of the other ones off to Pyongyang too, but mostly, they love each other.
- I teach kindness and charity. I’ve always taught my kids the importance of caring for others. They understand that there are so many people in our world who are suffering, whether because of poverty, health problems, or something else. And it’s up to the rest of us to help. When E was 4, she and I started volunteering in a soup kitchen once a month. Eventually S came along too. We don’t do it every month anymore, but we still go every now and then. We’ve also helped with our local food pantry. The kids each get an allowance each week, and they are required to set aside 1/3 of their money to give to a charity of their choosing. I LOVE that this is not a struggle for them. They lovingly choose charities to help, and feel tremendous pride in doing so. They’ve also each voluntarily chosen to ask birthday party guests to donate money to a charity rather than bringing them gifts. Their kindness isn’t solely reserved for charities, either. E, in particular, has been known to seek out kids on the playground who look lonely and ask them if they want to play. She’s risked her own social standing to stick up for another kid, even though that kid was mean to her in the past. I’m overwhelmed with pride in how kind and loving she is.
- I’m silly. I make up ridiculous songs. I chase them around and pretend to be a monster. I speak in funny voices or accents. I ask them ludicrous questions as if I expect a serious answer. I love making my kids laugh, and it (usually) works.
- I make playing outside a priority. I’m starting to notice a playing theme here. 😉 I’ve always believed that play is the work of childhood, so that’s what we focus on. I limit screen time as much as possible in favor of getting up and moving. It’s fine if they want to play something sedentary too, so long as their imaginations are moving. My kids are good at entertaining themselves, and I think this is a big part of the reason why.
- I pray with them. God and prayer are an integral part of our lives, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My kids know how much God loves them, and they love Him right back. R is still not super fond of going to Sunday Mass, but he actually loves daily Mass. E and S love everything about our Church and they pray on their own all the time. They even made their sacraments early. I’m so proud of them!
Thanks again for tagging me, Alisa! That was a much needed exercise after a bad day. Now it’s my turn to tag some moms who I admire! I’m tagging Rebecca Louise of Rock and Roses Mama, Heather Burnett of Word to Your Mother blog, and Julie from Mummy It’s OK.
Time to make your lists, ladies! Tell us how you are #rockingmotherhood!
Create your own Thursday 13 and post it here! Or join in #thelistlinky.
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