Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Superparent Complex

I readily confess that I frequently try to do too much, particularly where my kids are concerned. I can give you all the rationalizations in the world for this but the bottom line is that I'm on a ridiculously competitive quest against myself to prove that kids miss out on nothing when their moms work outside of the home. I firmly believe that proposition to be true and yet I admit that I try to stay a few steps ahead of the inevitable guilt by overcompensating.  Just last week, one child let me know she needed 17 red velvet cupcakes for a book talk scheduled to take place at school the next day and one of her sisters called me just before 4:30 pm to let me know that she desperately needed me to pick up a husky hat (a silly hat with a husky/dog head) because she desperately needed it for the very next day.  I had already committed to attending a meeting for 10th grade parents at our older daughter's high school that night and knew I wouldn't have time to bake cupcakes so I agreed to buy them on the way home. I laughed at the husky hat request and reminded my darling that I was picking up cupcakes and then going to a meeting and would be happy to deal with the hat request another day. "But I need it for tomorrow..." I could have and should have said "no", "you can't always get what you want when you want it",  or "I need a little more notice". Instead I said "I'll do my best but you'll have to live with it if I can't find the hat". She agreed (totally disingenuously, as I later learned). Despite it being a miserable rainy night, I got the cupcakes and I attended the meeting. I visited 4 different stores and never did succeed in finding the hat though. There was a moment there that I felt horrible and unsuccessful because I hadn't accomplished all the tasks on my list. That feeling was quickly replaced by appropriate anger with myself for ever having gotten into this position in the first place and for feeling even the slightest bit as though I'd let anyone down. I was also more than a little peeved with the child who insisted she need that ridiculous hat and that the matter was time-sensitive. At the end of the day, the problem is mine and only mine. Kids need to hear "no" and parents need to be able to say it. My kids only think I can make things like husky hats miraculously appear because I've fostered ludicrous expectations. Silly me - it's so much more important to teach them to manage their own expectations than it is to feed my supermom ego!

As you probably know, kids' books and movies often depict families where there is no mom except the occasional evil stepmom. For this reason, today's book selection can be found in the adult fiction section of your library or local bookstore - it's Lisa Genova's Left Neglected. So many of us teeter on the brink of total collapse as we try to get through an insanely long daily to-do list  This is the story of Sarah Nickerson who teeters on the brink and then falls off the proverbial cliff. One minute Sarah barely has time to breathe and, in the next split second, she sustains a serious brain injury and her life is changed forever. The scary part of the story is that it could happen to any of us. However, I prefer to take away the more reassuring message that change can be good and that challenge leads to opportunity.

1 comment:

  1. And after all that your friend want to have coffee with you ...sorry!
    Let's have tea soon...