Can I Do More?

What are we preparing our children for?

I recently learned that in today's world, middle class parents are spending more time with their children than they did in 1965, when most mothers were not even in the work force. But with the ever-changing world we live in, what are preparing our kids for? And why does it feel like I am not yet doing enough for them?

We tend to think that if we aren't trying everything, we are basically doing nothing to prepare our kids for the unknown future. We have carved out time for the extra curriculars, the art and music, the brix classes and foreign language weekend classes. At night in the years as early as kindergarten, we do homework before and after dinner, rush through bath time and hope a short story is chosen for bedtime reading. Maybe this craziness, this parenting crisis- is just ME. Anyone else running like their hair is on fire? Yet, most days, it still doesn't feel like it is enough.

Tiger moms, hippie moms, helicopter moms or drones- Drone Moms (ha) our children's happiness is paramount for us all. The one thing we have in common is this undying desire for our kids to be happy. But how do we teach children to be happy and self-confident? Have we received unfair burdens? We are so busy shielding our kids from the worlds realities, the Oscar the Grouches of the world, but in this shielding and all of the teaching and the extracurriculars, are we in fact making time for happy kids? I often battle between the "cuddles in bed on Sunday morning" vs the "breakfast at the table and ready for church" Sunday mornings. Weekends getting ready for Monday or watching movies in our pajamas...? How can we be so stretched- is it because I cannot choose? It doesn't feel like it is enough- even being so stretched I often have guilty moments of "I can do more."

The first words whispered into my children's ears after birth, "I will try so hard to make you happy and to keep you healthy. I will try so hard to not hurt you." In our desperate quest to create happy kids, I might have skipped over sane. Sane kids. I have read books and listened to talks, I have seen counselors and priests... I have prayed a lot. There is no measurement of how I am doing as a mother- and it appears as though my own grading system is an unfair one. At the end of most weeks I try to tally up what went well and could have been better... but most nights I go to bed feeling like I could have done more. Cooked more vegetables, put more hot food on the table, volunteered more, taught them about more, read more, done more at their school, planned their outfits (so they didn't look crazy) more... more, more, more.

Today I have been in bed all day fighting strep or an ear infection or both. I think one of the kids I want to do so much more for gave it to me. I haven't been able to do much at all. Had bone broth and let them have dry cereal. I slept. I cannot do more today and it is possible that all of those nights doing more-more-more- have finally caught up. Again. You won't learn balance here, ladies. I am still on a quest to find the perfect parenting equation that makes me both a fantastic and inspiring mother, a reliable and responsible adult and a loving and healthy wife... but today it is Passion Tango tea with lots of honey and some very old magazines in bed. Maybe tomorrow I will be able to do more.
 

Carly Alacahan
President
president@gcsmomsleague.org

Have You Changed?

Last week, I went out to Dallas to listen to Glennon Doyle speak to a fairly large group of local women. It was GLORIOUS and AWESOME, in my humble opinion. Glennon was funny and engaging and I felt truly connected to her. I also saw a friend who happened to be in town from Maine- whom I had not seen in over 6 years. I don't know what I was expecting, but I know I wasn't expecting to answer such difficult questions during what felt like a VERY long drive home. I wasn't expecting her questions to still linger, days later.

Good grief. "Do you feel you have changed, darling? Because, I feel you have changed. Are you Happy?"

Oh. My. Goodness. ARE YOU SERIOUS?

Be honest. Are you the same person you were 7 years ago? Are you the same person you were 15 years ago? The same young lady you were sophomore year? Really. Are you? Can I tell you what I realized on that ride home? I realized it was a hard and twisted question to ask me while driving, and more so, to have me admit it out loud.

I have, in fact, changed. I am VERY different than the woman she remembered. Once I admitted it, I smiled and let out a sigh of relief. THANK GOODNESS I have changed. Thank goodness.

For example, today, I am a bit more patient. I wait on longer lines without huffing and puffing. I. Have. Kids. and couldn't possibly get away with being as impatient as I was in my twenties and still "patiently wait" for my kids to buckle up, put their shoes on or finish their breakfast. Getting in or out of the car, crossing the parking lot or choosing the ONE toy they earned for good behavior would have sent the 20-year old me off the deep end. So, I am patient now. HOURS. HOURS of being patient.

I took notice that I am a better listener, too. I take turns to speak and I listen more intentionally than ever before. That is a great relief for the little voices tugging at my ears for attention and mic time. How would I hear what is on their minds and in their hearts if I hadn't slowed down the chatting to listen?

I don't call out. I can't call out! I can barely get sick! And even if I am sick, I cannot call out! This is it. This is more than a job- these people really really depend on my NOT CALLING OUT.

I read more, eat healthier, dance to a different song (does Frozen count?). I drive more carefully, double check a lot and explain more (goodness, a lot more). I am more open minded, worry a bit more and plan more efficiently. I work hard to be prepared and am more flexible when things don't go as planned (like a blow out; a diaper blow-out is never part of the plan). I am less rigid - I have changed because my priorities have changed. I have changed because my expectations are different and because my entire LIFE is different.

In this life - like most of you- I have been burned, I have been cheered for, I have been hurt and loved. I have lost a child. I have buried loved ones and moved away from all I know. I have tripped and fallen on my words- I have stumbled on my actions. I have changed. These experiences have helped me change. And, I have carried on. How in the world was I expected to stay the same? And honestly, who in the world would want to? Some might say that these kids "broke me down." I loudly and proudly say it is the opposite. These kids have helped to build me up. These kids have helped me to evolve and grow. This experience of motherhood has made me crazy in all the right ways.

I have evolved. I have grown. I am stretched in ways I never imagined- sometimes to the point of intensity and discomfort. I am tired- holy crap I am tired- but I AM HAPPY. I AM HAPPY I HAVE CHANGED, because that 'sometimes- crazy- girl from the college dorm sophomore year' or that 'could-be-very rigid sales exec from just a few years ago' would NOT be the most suitable fit for all of the stretching, waiting, and listening I am having to do around here!

Change is inevitable. I will embrace it and evolve- and I will remember fondly all the phases of this thing called life. Because really.... Who wants to be a crazy college kid forever? I will carry on.

In the words of my friend, Glennon... #CarryOnWarriors

 

Carly Alacahan
President
president@gcsmomsleague.org