I used to be a good Mom. Not top-tier, but good all the same. I met all the parental requirements—like providing my sons with adequate nutrition to keep them at 28% on the growth chart and enrolling them in school. But as I’ve matured, I’ve realized that focusing entirely on my children not only quashes my individuality; it prevents my growth as a mother.
So, I’ve changed my ways. And, honestly, it wasn’t very hard.
Since I really should go to a smattering of school-sponsored activities (that’s what good moms do), I make sure I don’t give my full attention to the droning guy at the podium or the falsetto lead of the billionth iteration of Guys and Dolls. Because, frankly, it’s boring and I don’t want to. Instead, I suction my rump to that metal folding chair, clap at the appropriate times, and get down to the business of plucking chin hairs, grating cracked calluses, and so on. It’s called multitasking, and it’s very liberating! It definitely frees me up, and, consequently, I have enough time to prepare delicious buckets of Popeye’s for dinner, instead of primping and preening all night. See how everybody wins?
There are sooo many ways the entire family profits when I prioritize self-care. And part of this self-care is Mama guzzling, gulping, and savoring her daily coffee. If I am deprived, we’ve learned, the boys are sure targets of my brutal caffeine-less-ness, and nobody really wants that. But, what’s a mom (who’s dependent on drive-thru cappuccino, and simultaneously tethered by economic realities) to do? I’ll tell you what: steal, steal, and steal some more. My sons and I have an unspoken agreement. I sniff out their poorly-hidden birthday money, fatten my wallet, and treat myself to that jumbo java elixir. And they keep their traps shut. Like they say, when Mama’s happy, everybody’s happy!
I do try to keep everyone cheerful and content, so I absolutely avoid stuff that messes with my mojo. Like after school pickup. Once the boys became middle schoolers, our benign drive-home conversations became indignant diatribes against homework and teachers and the human race. So I cut and ran—and passively delegated. Did you know that some teachers will pick up parent slack and shuttle students home? (This is the part of in loco parentis I really like.) Bless their educator hearts! I don’t know about you, but I can use my saved time to shove in as much Bravo as possible. It’s called decompressing, and it allows me to be fresh and welcoming and greet my sons with an authentic and sincere smile when they walk in the door.
The takeaway is clear. We, as women and mothers, need to step up, think outside the box, and stop hoping we’ll get that crappy BEST MOM mug for fawning over our children. It is time we earn that ceramic trophy. And the only way to do it? We need to aggressively take care of Numero Uno—and the rest will fall into place.
After all, isn’t parenting the most important job in the entire world?