You know those brief moments in time when, as a parent, you finally feel like you have it all together? All the balls are in the air and you feel oddly confident you can keep them there? Maybe even have a whole extra second to use one of your hands to gulp down a glass of wine because you are a parenting goddess and you’ve earned it, dammit.
This was me a few days ago. My youngest is finally sleeping(ish) through the night. My oldest is developing into just a terrific human being, if with a bit more smart-assery than I’d like (although, to be fair, he gets it honest). We have a good daily routine down and I haven’t had to hide in the basement stress-eating baking chocolate in at least a week.
Finally. Finally, I got this, I told myself. I can do this. I am doing this. What was I stressing about in the first place?
And this amazing feeling lasted for all of 30 seconds.
It was a beautiful 30 seconds.
Because, of course, then I logged online like an idiot. Where I was inundated with pictures of all my friends and their kids at preschool and in swim lessons and banging a drum at baby music class and wearing matching outfits while doing Mommy and Me yoga and hanging out at craft workshops and playing pint-sized soccer.
My kids are enrolled in zero classes. None. Zip. Worse yet, they go to zero organized playgroups. Ditto for unorganized casual play dates. Double ditto for anything with the word “team” in the title. Basically they are involved in nothing that even has a whiff of a nurturing learning environment.
And that’s when I started to panic. Oh god, am I a lazy mom?
I mean, I’m not a complete monster. I take them to storytime at the library. Occasionally. Or, to be more accurate, erratically. Three weeks in a row! Followed by a four-month hiatus! Cause Momma is going through a “pants are too complicated” phase!
I also take them on a fairly regular basis to one of the two playgrounds that are within walking distance from my house, where my toddler speaks gibberish to the other kids and they look confused and I make awkward jokes with the other parents and they look confused.
We also have casual friendships with a small smattering of other neighborhood parents. But getting together and syncing up nap/food/not sick/regularly scheduled meltdown times requires spreadsheets and that computer from “Jeopardy” and an abacus or two.
I always have good intentions. This past summer, I planned on signing up my toddler for swimming lessons. But since I was a billion months pregnant, our scheduled activities pretty much just consisted of going out for ice cream.
Every single day.
At 10 a.m.
(On the plus side, if he’s ever drowning in ice cream, I have the utmost confidence he’d survive).
Once my daughter was born, I’d casually Google local Mommy and Me things or whatever. And they looked great. And they looked fun. And they looked expensive.
The local school district also has a drop-in playgroup I’ve been meaning to look into. Which I’ll do soon. I promise. It’s just…pants, you know?
Sometimes (all the time) I worry that they’ll fall behind their peers, who can already speak Mandarin and know computer code and play on no less than four sport teams. I mean, he’s almost 3. She’s heading toward 7 months. And neither one has developed an app, let alone sold it for millions.
So, I torture myself daily with the question of whether I’m an underachieving slacker mother or everybody else is just an annoying overachiever.
In my rare saner moments, I remind myself that we read books daily. We have music dance parties. We do violent circles with crayons and/or chalk and call it “art.”
We go to parks and take long walks along the river by our house and do impressions of our favorite SNL characters and Skype with grandparents and do “pretend” math lessons (since my skill and my toddler’s skill are pretty much on par with each other). Our day is filled with activities. They just happen to be mostly activities you can do in your underwear and a ratty Miami University sweatshirt.
But most importantly, I remind myself in these moments that my kids are happy. They’ll spend the rest of their lives in classes and organized activities and casual gatherings and not casual meetings and…*shudder*…group work.
And I take a deep breath and calm my frazzled mind.
They’re fine. They’ll be fine.
And that good feeling lasts for all of 30 seconds.
Ah, but what a 30 seconds.