A mother's lament

How does anybody do this? With no degree? No preparation? Why don't they have a BA in parenting?

baby 88 (photo credit:)
baby 88
(photo credit: )
Some women are scared and overwhelmed when they give birth to their first child. Others realize the enormity of the endeavor only as their children grow older. As you read the following, picture a harassed mom pacing and ranting, perhaps waving her arms. Whether we are aware of her or not, she is someone many of us moms carry around inside - at any age. Omigod. Three children! I have responsibility for three children! I gotta make them emotionally healthy! They gotta feel good about themselves and it's all up to me. I'm the big M. The M-O-M. Mamma. I'm the first face they'll see. The first word they'll say. Oy! Gadol alai, it's too much for me. Self-esteem, they gotta be full of self-esteem, brimming with self-esteem. That's the most important thing, right? Everything stems from that, right? But you can't praise. No, praise is bad. Then they'll work for praise rather than their own satisfaction. You can't look at your five-year-old's drawing and say, "You're such a good artist!" Heaven forbid. No, you have to say, "Oh, that's a very blue sky." Or so we're told. Let's see: emotionally healthy, self-esteem but without compliments. Oh, and they gotta be modest. You don't want swelled heads running around the house - or the world. So I gotta make 'em emotionally healthy with high self-esteem but modest. Oh, and kind. That's the most important thing, isn't it? Doesn't the Talmud say kindness is the highest value? And then none of it is worth a hoot if you aren't present with your kids. You're supposed to be 100 percent focused on them when you're with them. That's the very definition of quality time. Never mind all those thoughts that swoop unbidden into your mind like loud crows at sunset as you're playing Candyland for the thousandth time. You know, like, "I have nothing to wear to my sister's wedding," or "What did my boss mean when she said I was limited," or "How are we going to pay the mortgage next month with this sinking dollar?" You're supposed to just bat those thoughts away like pesky flies or better yet, watch them float away on a fluffy cloud while you and your four-year-old take turns rolling the dice. But I'll let you in on a secret: Nobody but the Dalai Lama can be fully present while they're playing Candyland. And besides, after you've tried your darnedest to be present for 13 years, suddenly that's all wrong. They don't want you to be present; they want you to get out of their face. Suddenly you have to get really good at being absent. Oy vey iz tzu mir. Bet you thought it was, "Oy vey iz mir," right? Actually it's "Oy vey iz tzu mir" (Oh, woe is unto me). Words I'm good at, words I like. But making people? I don't know. Don't you need tools to make something? Do I have tools? I musta misplaced my toolbox. Oy. Oy. Oh! And I gotta be relaxed! Isn't that really the most important thing? I gotta be relaxed! I gotta enjoy them. And then there's that four-letter word none of us got enough of. That really is the most important thing. Where am I gonna get some extra love so I can dish it out and not miss it? How does anybody do this? With no degree? No preparation? Why don't they have a BA in parenting? On second thought, to do all of this you need a PhD! Post-graduate work, a practicum or two. So where were we? They gotta have self-esteem but not a swelled head, be kind but not wimpy, get so much love they'll be able to give it away… and they're not gonna make it easy. They're gonna test me at every turn, they're gonna say "No!" as soon as they can talk. They're gonna not want to wash their hands, let alone behind their ears. They're gonna not want to brush their teeth. Who in their right mind would want to shove a stick with bristles shmeared with a burning minty goo in their mouth and rub it around? They're gonna be selfish and stubborn and greedy and I'm gonna have to civilize all this out of them while at the same time giving them all the good stuff, you know, the self-esteem and kindness and modesty and love. I ask you. Is this possible? lifeinthefifties@gmail.com