Happy Mother’s Day.
This is a somewhat random way to start this week’s column, however each year the Wednesday before this date seems to sneak up on me. By that I mean, each year (for the past seven years of Mommy Musings) I start to think of my column topic. Then without fail, I realize it’s the Wednesday before Mother’s Day and quickly alter my thinking to fit the issue.
So, considering a fair share of readers may indeed be moms, it seems only appropriate to wish you a happy day. Now, with that said, this year I’m not going to alter the topic. I’m a week behind in writing it and really must get it out of my head and on the page for all of you to judge or giggle at.
There are many facets of motherhood I love and embrace. Truthfully, the majority of them have to do with my children, but the personal lessons I learn seem to be just as (if not more) valuable.
Confession: I recently had to not only realize, but accept a mommy imperfection. It startled me when it happened and caused me to step back and ‘check’ myself once it was discovered. It was indeed a revelation of sorts. I’m a ‘stage mom.’
Oh, how I shudder just writing such a sentence, but this is indeed true and since the discovery I am making a conscience effort to correct this imperfection.
I experienced my first glimpse of this alter ego last summer as my son competed in his first swim meet. He’s not competitive by nature, but he loves swimming. As a former athlete, I was just thrilled that he had found a sport he enjoyed and got excited about. So as he prepared for his ‘first race’ I stood alongside him on the pool deck explaining how things were going to happen. I offered tips, reminded him not to touch the lane lines, not to turn over until he hit the wall … you know … the basics.
That following Tuesday as I arrived at work, our editor shared sports reporter Ike Dodson’s disappointment in my ‘no print policy’ for personal pictures. My mug graces these pages every week, so I’ve always maintained a position of not being placed in the paper (give a community member the space). Unfortunately (for Ike), the best picture he captured during that rainy swim meet was of a wacko ‘swim mom’ intensely pointing down the lane lines with umbrella in hand as her seven-year-old graced an expression of determination and complete seriousness.
That ‘swim mom’ was me and while the words I was sharing with my son could not be heard in a photo, the expression of the father and daughter standing behind us spoke volumes.
I’m grateful to Ike for that photo and even more grateful for my long standing ‘no print policy.’ That picture gave me the opportunity to step back, reflect and accept that my son was having fun and that is good enough. I now also know, that the more fun you have at what you do, the more successful you ultimately become. By the end of the season, we saw that happen for my son and that moment I will cherish forever.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago as my son shared his interest in participating in his school’s Talent Show. He’s only in first grade, so that he had an interest in doing something like this both impressed and thrilled me.
He plays piano. So prior to auditions we discussed what he would play, he practiced and was very excited to play a song he sang often with his Memaw (my mom).
When audition day arrived, I learned from another mom that not all children would be selected. In all honesty, I freaked - a little. My baby is only seven, isn’t he too young for such disappointment? I was still in awe of his interest in auditioning. I quickly pulled him aside and encouraged him to play a different piece where he uses a technique which is unique and not common. He agreed. Relieved, I watched with breath held as he went in to ‘face the judges.’
Following his audition he looked sad. Nerves, I thought. As he and I discussed the audition, the tears began to fall. He shared his disappointment in me telling him to play the other song. “I wanted to play my song for Memaw,” he said.
As I scrambled to rationalize my thought process and how it would help him get selected, I heard myself. As I grappled with the right words, I realized I was a ‘stage mom’ in that moment.
Arguably, I did not want him to be disappointed by not being selected. I thought I was helping. Then I realized, helping was just being there and supporting him. Win, lose or draw allowing him to make a decision regardless of consequence is how they learn and ... this was just a Talent Show.
What I now realize is that these moments and lessons are just beginning for my son and I. It is now my job to truly walk the talk. I must continue to encourage him to ‘have fun,’ ‘try new things,’ and just make the most of what is his life.
But in doing this, I must also remember (just like when he learned to walk) I must allow him to bruise. A scraped knee does not end our life, but rather teaches us a valuable lesson.
It’s a fine line really between ‘stage/swim mom’ and the voice of reason. Then I remind myself that’s why I’m the grown-up, it’s my job to find that balance and help him through it.
When he was a toddler I would often take a breath and count to ten before reacting. That still applies, the circumstances are just different. We can’t always fix it for our kids and we’re not supposed to. They need to learn the lessons and the best way to ensure that happens is to once again take that breath and count ten.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 847-3021.