Sunday, January 17, 2016

The apathetic mom

I will never forget the day I took my first born into work, and had her laying there on the floor on one of her soft fuzzy little blankets while I tinkered with some piece of geologic equipment in the basement of a college building.  A fellow parent walked up and asked me if my daughter was rolling yet.
“No!” I answered, suddenly panicked that somehow because she wasn’t rolling she was doomed forever in life.
“Ah, it’s no worries,” he answered.  “Kids do things at their own pace.  Mostly they turn out just fine.”
I tried to believe him, but deep down I was one of those annoying mothers who sat there and half pushed my kid over so she would “roll” and I could shout her achievements from the rooftops.  I was annoying mom.
And then she turned three and because I was so certain she was a genius (hey, she rolled early!) I knew I should send her to preschool as soon as legally possible.  We had to get this education train on the track, so that she could be balancing chemical equations before she was seven.  Of course, we had to decide where to send her to preschool.
This was painfully and ridiculously difficult.
We visited more than a few.  I interviewed every single parent of a preschool aged child I knew.  Do they play? Is it clean?  Are they writing?  Is there math?  Science is important.  Do they have healthy snacks?  I was the interrogator mom.  It was ugly.
She ended up going to a fantastic preschool full of wonderful, and eventually trickled on to kindergarten, where I became the confused mom.
I was confused about whether or not she was happy, if her needs were being met, if the snack was appropriate, if the children had too much down time or if they should be taking naps on little woven rugs like I did back in kindergarten.  I was confused and worried about every little thing, re-revealing my annoying mom phase where I asked every person I knew about what they thought was right, as if the rest of the world knows my kid better than I do.
But then, eventually, more children came into our family.  And recently I came to the conclusion that I’m a different kind of mom; the kind that whole-heartedly takes the side of that man who gave me advice thirteen years ago.  I’m the apathetic mom.
Do I love them?  Yes.  But do I care so much about the little things?  Nope. 
Children are much more resilient than we give them credit.  They do things at their own pace.  They learn if they want to learn.  They adjust if necessary.  I think the best decision I ever made as a parent was to be a little more apathetic and just sit back and enjoy the show. 
Because as great as it is, there are no re-runs.

Originally written/published 11/2/14

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