On a Learning Curve

Life may not be easy, but it's always an adventure.


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Mother of the Year?

Some days I think mothering is a win-lose occupation. I’m having more of these days lately. G tells me at least once a week that I’m ruining her life and that I’m selfish for insisting on doing things my way. I know it’s totally selfish of me to insist she not eat food in her bed and then scatter the packaging in her dresser drawers and pillow cases, so yes, that’s why I’m attempting to ruin her life. Then I picked her up from horse camp yesterday. Apparently I’m back in her good graces for the week.

On Saturday when H and I were packing her suitcase for a week of day camp and time with the grandparents, she informed me she no longer wanted to go to camp–especially if I was going to force her to wear socks AND sneakers. I replied that she owed me $90 for camp tuition. She’s smart at the young age of 6 and decided that she would gain some leverage by acquiescing if I agreed to accompany her to day camp. (Sure, a 39-year-old mom would not look out of place at a camp for elementary students.) Instead, I agreed to buying her lunch on Sunday, and she agreed to go to camp and be spoiled by Grammy and Granddad. Guess who won this battle! (Hint: it wasn’t me.)

Yesterday I spent the day with my middle child, which is something that hasn’t happened since last December when we took explored DC for her eighth birthday. Apparently I’m not as fun as her sisters. Apparently she doesn’t whine to her sisters about how bored she is. And apparently I struck out at 3 attempts to make her less miserable. In the morning, we visited Miss Debby, one of our favorite people. She’s a grandmother from our church who has adopted our family as her own. She also has a kid-friendly house and yard and never insists that the girls pick up after themselves. S whined at Miss Debby’s house until we left for home. So I made a playdate for the neighborhood pool. After less than an hour, S actually curled up under a towel and asked to go home. After dinner, G and I took S to play Street Soccer, which is an evening of pick-up soccer games arranged by our local soccer club. I was excited: DC United sent 2 players to play with the kids and sign autographs, and much of S’s soccer team showed up to play. S was not remotely interested in the soccer pros; she actually left the field and told me she didn’t want to play at all and that this wasn’t her idea of fun. “Seriously? I just committed to a year of coaching your soccer team, and you no longer want to play?!” was my reply.

Fast-forward to this morning. S spent another miserable night coughing. She agreed to a doctor’s visit this morning, and our doctor suggested viral bronchitis as the cause of her misery. I simply asked if she could have cough syrup with codeine, please. Yes, I am Mother of the Year.

If I’ve learned anything, the rest of the week will be unpredictable. S and H will eventually conquer their coughs and sleep peacefully through the night. One of my kids will decide I am the world’s worst mother, another will defend my honor as world’s greatest mom, and the third will be wise enough to stay out of the discussion.

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A New Milestone

My youngest child, H,  is going to camp for the first time tomorrow. She can’t decide if she’s excited about camp or irritated that she has to wear socks and shoes for 5 mornings this week. I can’t decide if I’m relieved to have a little extra time to myself with one less child or anxious that she’ll keep her grandparents and cousin awake all night tonight with the barky cough she picked up from her neighborhood friends.

This is a first for her and for me. Yes, she has finished kindergarten–and a good portion of 1st grade–but we’re a homeschooling family. I’ve never put her on a yellow school bus or dropped her off to spend 7 hours with another teacher. S, our middle daughter attempted to spend part of the week with my sister’s family last summer; her attempt lasted a stunning 21 hours, and that’s only because I refused to drive an additional 4 hours to get her without first getting a full night’s sleep. Our oldest, G, is a pro at spending time with the grandparents; she regularly reminds us that she will legally be an adult when she turns 18 and won’t have to live with us anymore. (She’s quite knowledgeable for 10.)

But this week will be different. G will be away at horse camp this week and living the dream life that we so cruelly deny her. (Or at least that’s her interpretation.) H and her cousin O will be living my dream life: being spoiled rotten by their grandparents, eating all sorts of things that Mom doesn’t allow, and playing games at a day camp whose theme is Superheroes!

That leaves just me and S in a position we haven’t seen since G left for 3-year-old preschool. She was easy to please back then. We went for walks, visited playgrounds, and ate Egg McMuffins. But she’s 8 now and knows there are fancier places than McDonald’s. What will we do with ourselves this week? I have no idea, but I’m looking forward to every minute of it.