Sunday, January 25, 2009


I wish Mommies could get a report card sometimes. I know the areas in which I struggle...places where I need a lot of work and might even be close to a failing grade...but wouldn't it be lovely sometime to get some validation on areas of victory in mothering? Some sort of objective barometer that says that in this particular area, I am doing great. I tend to dwell less on those tiny victories, and I think it would be good, at the end of my day...when I'm laying in bed, worrying over all the mistakes I made that day, ways I wounded my kids or my husband, worrying over all the things I need to do or ways I could possibly mend those wounded hearts would be good in that time for my spirit to find a little victory in my day....remember the places where God helped me to go to sleep with a hopeful and grateful heart rather than a furrowed brow and heavy load on my mind. I have some great girlfriends who I used to meet with in either the wee hours of the morning or the late hours of the night to pray together. We called each other our YaYas and part of our purpose was to pray over our concerns but also to celebrate the ways God gave us victory in our days. It was a good balance. I'm looking for that again. mind is on report cards because my kids came home with theirs this week. I won't go on and on about how they are doing...they run the gamut...but you know...they are all trying and they've all, on their own, improved their grades this year. And it's important to note the words "on their own" because, yes, I was one of those obnoxious, perfectionist parents who used to hover, and I use the word "hover" generously, over their shoulders while they completed their homework, making sure they turned in nothing short of what I could be proud of....I, not they....and I took it very personally if they were not succeeding, and by succeeding, I mean getting As.

BUT, Thank Goodness, I don't do that anymore...because God helped me to use my laziness for GOOD in this area...staying on top of THREE kids' homework while managing a toddler just proved to be too much for my energy level...

And SO, considering all that bad Mommy behavior, I'm in awe that they, of their own effort and their own motivation, improved their grades this year. Without any help (or hindrance) from me.

And I'm proud of them for that.

And I'm proud of myself for backing off.

Especially considering that a year ago, I wrote this while struggling with Jack who was NOT doing well and who I was trying desperately to control and motivate and puppet with no success....
I am forty one years old and experiencing seventh grade all over again. My four children are all in the throes of their public pre-collegiate (she says, hopefully) education and suddenly, rather than sitting back, sipping those lattes while I thumb through the paper and consider which hobby to pursue, as I imagined I would at this point in my life, I find myself submersed in all the rigors of “their” education. Gone are the days of my mother, and her mother, when parents were happily or unhappily surprised at their children’s progress when the report card arrived. They could go about their days, unburdened by the knowledge of their child’s actual progress. They could blithely assume their son or daughter was matriculating well. I have not been afforded such luxury. The arrival this year of Oakwood Schools Online Progress Reports demolished the fine line I had tried to walk between encouraging my children in their schoolwork and taking over responsibility for their schoolwork. Now, I have access to my seventh grade son’s progress on a minute by minute measure. I know if he was late to class, or worse, absent (where on earth was he during fourth period Science?). I know if he forgot to turn in an assignment or if he blew a test. Instead of the loving and enthusiastic, albeit ignorant, cheerleader I had hoped to be for him, I have become his long distance hall monitor, his overburdened (and overbearing) coach and production assistant, his reluctant puppeteer as I try to control his academic pursuits from three blocks away. The minute his daily progress report flashes on the computer screen, my heart is filled with either relief or frustration. It feels wrong.

I never finished writing was just too discouraging. I was on the school's academic progress site daily, sometimes hourly, monitoring Jack's progress and having our relationship tank while I berated him over and over again for failing to live up to my expectations. This year, I gave it up. I finally decided that his education was his education and all my yelling was obviously not going to give him the motivation he needed to excel. And it was killing our relationship.

And this year, on his own, he has turned out the best grades he has had since entering junior high. I am really proud of both of us. Him for stepping up and me for stepping back. Way back. Where I belong. Back into the stands to cheer him on.

So....some big victories on the kids' report cards....and one enormous victory to put on this mama's imaginary report card. The kids have already taken their cards to Krispy Kreme to turn in their As for donuts....if only Krispy Kreme would reward me too. Yummmmmm......