Welcome to Thursday’s Confessions. A weekly feature where I confess, before you my sisters and brothers, the silly, the ridiculous and even at times the shameful. Why? Because confession is good for the soul. Even in Blogland
Confession: Historically I have not been a park mom. I am not the mom who takes her kids to the park or those jumpy places. We only hit the zoo when we go out of town.
Those are things that grandparents do, not me.
I am a home mom and a playdate mom.
But not a park mom.
Why? Because I am selfish and lazy. When my kids were little I had to push them on the swing, catch them off the slide and watch them so they wouldn’t get kidnapped.
About 5 minutes of that and my brain would get all fuzzy and goes numb. We could have just as much fun at home, where I could lay down and rest my eyes for moment between sippy cup refills and wiping bottoms, without worrying about them being snatched up.
However like most kids, my boys love the park. And as they have gotten older and are able to swing without assistance, slide without me holding their hands, the park is a little more tolerable for me, and actually it has become a little more important.
When my kids were little it was easy to know what they were feeling and when they needed me. They wore all their emotions and needs on their sleeves. And they needed so much – feeding, changing, cleaning. They were helpless in so many ways and my days were consumed with small, repetitive, never ending task that come with mothering babies and toddlers. Those days wore me out. Staying home with small children was mind numbing and bone tired exhausting in a way that nothing else was for me.
Now that they are older they can do all those things for themselves. They can feed, clean and cloth themselves. They can load and unload the dishwasher, they can feed the chickens, the dog and the hedgehog. They can make dinner and do laundry and set the DVR. Because of this, sometimes it is way to easy to parent on auto pilot. To come home from work and school and for all of us to retreat to our own corners.
But the truth is that as they get older they need me just as much as before. Only in a different way. They don’t need my hands as much as before, but they sure do need my eyes and my ears. They need my presence. They need me to ask how they are doing, they need me to notice when they are overly emotional, when they are withdrawn, too quiet, too loud, too easily angered, too easily tired.
These days, in an effort to Be There more, I take them to their lessons and their practices. We stop and get hot fudge sundaes on the way, and sometimes we play at the park if we have a few minutes to kill. I take a book, and I sit. And I watch and I read a little and I listen a lot and I try to notice even more.
I read once that when you have teenagers you should try to have a kitchen where you can cook while your back is turned so that they will talk to you more. Because if they don’t have to look you in the eye they will open up more. But the key is that you have to use that kitchen. You have to be home. You have to be around, so that when they are ready to talk, you are there.
We are not to the teenage years yet, but boy are they close. Eventually they won’t even need (or want!) me to take them to the park, they won’t scream Mom Look At Me! as they jump off the highest rung. So, as preventive medicine for their future illness called teenageitis, we are going to the park and eating ice cream, with the hopes that the knowledge and faith that I am always here for them will sink in, and somewhere at the bottom of their future teenage brains it will remain, deeply imbeded so that perhaps, just maybe, while I am cooking dinner, with my back turned, they will offer up some of their own Thursday confessions now and again and say Look Mom! Look What I Can Do!
Sandy aka Doris the Great says
So true. But the teenage years aren't that long. And if you can make it through without throttling them to death, it comes round again. And they call you up from their far-away (or not so far away) places just to say “look at me, Mom” … but in a much subtler way than when they were young. And you have to say “Well done, dear! I knew you could do it”.
I can really relate to this. I too avoided the park. The constant vigilance is exhausting for me as well. I love your blog Jerusalem. You are such a blessing.
I'm so happy to read this tonight. I left a restaurant after a stranger chastised me for having my (well behaved) kids at a restaurant at 7:30, saying it was too late and they should be in bed. He made me doubt my parenting. Reading this reminded me to soak up all the time I can with them and who cares what a stranger thinks? Even though, it did bother me, unfortunately. I also often feel guilty because I am SO a park mom because I go crazy at home all day with my kids! This made me feel a little better about that too. 😉