I think I’m a good mom.
Oh, I know that’s taboo to say; we’re all supposed to be berating ourselves while wearing hairshirts and walking on nailbeds, but I’m amazed that the girl who hated babysitting and never thought she’d have children thoroughly enjoys life as a mother of six.
I’m patient, I’m kind. I set high expectations but never berate kids for failing. Effusive with praise, I’m also stern when they need to get something done. My kids are great workers, embrace good values and laugh every day.
But man, this week I feel like a failure. I just can’t stay on top of it all. It’s small stuff mostly. The note from Gabe’s teacher informing me he’s missing six math assignments (because I never do check his backpack). The scramble to find his ski pass yesterday– and I told him to take Mary’s (because he does own a pass and she wasn’t skiing) which resulted in both passes being revoked. Yes, his stuff is his responsibility, but if I didn’t have twenty junk drawers and messy closets these things would never get lost.
Will I ever be able to give Xander enough attention? Fourth child is a rough spot.
And Mary, sweet Mary, I know I’m spoiling her with pretty dresses; I just hope all the vacuuming and dishes will make up for it.
OK, here’s the kicker. The last few months Stefan has been buried in paperwork with college and scholarship applications not to mention his five AP classes and one concurrent enrollment. I’m honestly thrilled any time I see that poor kid goofing off. “Stay out late Stefan!” “Drink milkshakes!” “Make a movie with your little brothers.” “Kiss the girl!”
And I’ve been bemoaning that fact that all these hoity- toity scholarships which take masses of time(like National Merit and U.S. Presidential) have no money behind them, they just sound cool when/if (humongous IF) you are the 1/100,000 kid chosen. One award he was nominated for took an entire weekend of essays and letters only to find if he is the ONE kid chosen in the state he’ll receive $500.
So after the flurry of applications ended, we sat down this weekend to fill out the Regent’s Scholarship. This is the best, easiest scholarship in the state– you simply have to take certain core classes, get decent grades and fill out the form. It’s a sure thing, there’s no essay or interview– if you have the qualifications you get a nice fat $11,000 scholarship.
And yeah, we missed the deadline.
It’s pretty much like building a bonfire with eleven thousand one dollar bills.
No, it won’t keep him out of college. And I guess I could spread the blame around a bit, but I’m so afraid my ineptitude will keep this fabulous, hard-working kid out of the school of his dreams. I could write a great essay on everything NOT to do while applying to colleges (#1– don’t be a white male #2 don’t do single choice early application no matter who talks you into it because it will exclude you from nearly every scholarship in the nation). I’m sure I sound whiny, but if you could see Stefan working from sun-up to sun-down you’d understand.
And here’s the larger question, how can we stand to send Stefan to school at all? And then on a mission for two years? He is the quiet rock of our family– unfailingly kind, generous and good. I’m still recovering from sending Ben off. Please don’t say his mission is flying by (even though it is for you) I’ll either burst into tears or kick you in the shins. It seems unbearably cruel that Ben will come home in a year just in time to see Stefan leave. How will my heart bear five missions in a row?
Forgive my lamentations, these are absolutely comfortable middle-class complaints, but I always feel better after writing. Things will work out, I know, things will work out. I take comfort from Ben’s letters. The year before he left was horrific in many ways (my mother dying, the cruel and contemplated destruction of my extended family). I cried every day; sometimes all day. I swore and yelled and threw things. And I worried his last year with us, his memories of home, would be marred by my grief.
Yet his letters are full of love and praise and “you’re the best mom I could ever hope for.” And I believe when a child is truly, wholly loved for their individual magnificence, they will forgive our fumblings and failings, forgetfulness and general disorganization. I love my children profoundly, deeply; I tell them every day in a hundred ways. I see them for who they really are– God’s children.
I still think I’m a good mom.