Sunday, January 25, 2009

REPORT CARDS AND VICTORIES

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 tomorrow....it 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 triumph...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.

Anyhow...my 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 it....it 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......

10 comments:

Amy said...

Oh Lis, you DO deserve an "A" on your Mommy Report Card. It's so hard to step back and allow our kids to succeed (or fail) on their own, to allow them to be who it is they were made to be, not who WE think they should or want them to be. You're doing a great job! (The Krispy Kreme donuts and your relationship now with Jack are proof, sweet friend!)

And please sign me up for your YaYa group!

I love you tons, Ame

Carey-Life in the Carpool Lane said...

Sounds like you should be getting an A+ in "letting go." Your first couple of paragraphs about parental report cards nearly had me in tears...it's been one of those days.

And beautiful written as usual...an A+!

Rebecca said...

Oh I am so glad my children's school district don't have that. I don't know if I would be able to help myself! I'm sure I would be on there everyday just like you were! Good work on the willpower, backing off can be tough to do.

Maureen Anderson said...

I'll buy you a Krispy Kreme for showing good restraint in not checking. You know that I would get an F for sure. I can't help but be a helicopter mom. I've been trying to stop, but it is very hard. You get an A.

Anonymous said...

Hello. I just LOVED reading your blog a motherlode! It is so sad you had to shut it down!
PS: Just curious, but what made you decide to shut down your blog? Did something really bad happen? Please reply back! Thank you!

Sherri

Amy said...

I am also wondering what has happened to make you want to shut down your other blog, a motherlode. Was it really bad what happened. I think I have some idea as to what happened, but I am not sure. Please respond back!

Amy said...

Actually, I think I know what is is that made you shut down your other blog. Was it something on youtube? i think I know what it is that caused this! Is that it? Oh, please please please tell me Lisa!

Lisa Cairney said...

Hi, girls...thanks for your sweet comments...I'm not sure if it's wise to respond publicly as to the details of why I shut down a motherlode but because you didn't link your comment to your blogs, I can't reply directly to you...so the best I can do is to say yes, Amy, it did result primarily from the YouTube incident. I had not realized that in my desire to be real and open about our lives and where we live it that I would be exposing my family to such dangerous situations. We felt the best course of action would be to shut down the blog quickly, shielding my kids from any more undue exposure. I will miss you ladies, but I'm sure you understand. Thanks so much for your suppport!

Amy said...

Hello, Lisa! Thank you for replying back! It is so sad to know that you had to shut down a motherlode. How did you you find out about the youtube incident anyways? And how many videos did you find on youtube exposing your family? Please reply back! Thank you so much, Lisa!

LucyB said...

I SO can't keep my hands off the progress report. You are a better mom than me, BY FAR. I definitely need to follow your lead and cut R some slack. I am at the point exactly that you described last year. It IS painful, to both of us. But how do I take that first step back? Did you have withdrawals?