Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sauntering under the raised bar

Yesterday, I had an epiphany. About parenting and competition and self-acceptance. I have been working on re-doing the kids’ rooms with the goal of making them excited to have their own rooms after sharing for four years. I’m planning all sorts of ludicrous things for the princess room I always wanted as a kid and the Mario Kart room that I think every little boy might have wanted. I am custom-making a castle bed for my daughter and modifying a little Tikes car bed for my son to make it look like the Wild Wing car from Mario Kart. I am doing a mural in my son’s room and using GlitterGlaze to make my daughter’s walls sparkly. I’m swapping out ceiling fixtures and adding lots of fabulous details that they will never notice.

I was thinking yesterday that if I were someone on the outside looking in, I might be irritated at that mom who was raising the bar.

And it hit me. Blammo. (No, not decorative gourd season. Um, by the way, if you don’t like excessive profanity, don’t click that decorative gourd link.) Aaaaanyway, as I was saying, it hit me. Blammo. I’m not raising the bar. I’m just doing what I love to do. I fully recognize that my kids would be just as happy with some Disney Princess and Mario printed comforters. Everything else I am doing in those rooms, I am doing because I love to plan and decorate rooms. I’m decorating those rooms for ME.

You’re probably thinking, “Well, yeah, duh, of course you’re doing it for you. Your kids are four. I thought you were smart, but if it took you that long to figure it out, you’re really dumb and I’m not reading your blog anymore.” Yes, duh. I did already know that. But also, wow. Because those moms who made their own baby food? Maybe they like cooking and mashing things. Moms whose houses are always clean? That’s probably important to them or maybe they find cleaning therapeutic. Moms who somehow manage to show up in clean clothing with their hair done and makeup that doesn’t look like it was put on in the dark? They must be really into fashion. Moms who go to the park a lot? Maybe they like fresh air more than they like the catchy tunes of the Fresh Beats. Moms who are thin? Maybe they enjoy working out, or maybe the child care at the gym gives them their only alone time of the day, (or maybe they just have a fast metabolism… but let’s not talk about those bitches because then I start getting all swear-y.) Moms who don’t have any crumbs on the floor of the minivan? Well, OK, something weird is definitely going on with those moms. But other than that, do you see it?

Here’s my point. We do what matters to us. And if someone else wants to raise the bar, let them. And then just walk the hell under it. Do your thing. Your kids will remember you for the things at which you are awesome. I remember my mom’s amazing cooking and baking. I remember that we were allowed (nay, encouraged) to get dirty. I remember that she took us to museums. I remember that she (and my dad) made our Halloween costumes. She was awesome at those things. Was our house clean? Nope. Did I care? Nope.

My kids will remember that I took them to the Renaissance Faire, that I decorated their rooms for them, that the three things we never ran out of were fresh fruit, fresh veggies, and brownies, that I planned fun parties, that we did a lot of painting and art, that sometimes I let them stay up late for family fires outside, and that I snuggled them and tickled them and just loved them like crazy.

We all know it’s not a competition. But some days, I forget. And I think most of us, when we forget, probably feel like we are losing. We’re not. We rock. We’re good at what we’re good at, and our kids will remember that we loved them in all of the ways that we are best at showing it.


  1. I remember that my mom would occasionally let my brother or me stay home from school for a "mental health day." How awesome is that???

    I also remember home cooked meals, help with homework, family camping trips...basically my parents spending time with us and giving us attention and praise and love. There were probably a million things they didn't do or half-assedly phoned in...but you're right, as a kid you never see those things.

  2. Right on Lady, well put. We do know this (or we should) but what a great reminder.

    I remember home cooking and dinner at the table and birthday parties with crafts every year, shopping for dresses, a beautiful yard and a clean house but mostly my parents BEING THERE for every event - band competition, play, recital, parade, soccer game whatever. My house is nowhere near as clean as my mother's, and my flowers always die - but that's not my thing. My daughter will remember singing and dancing and crafts and cooking together - at 2 she already helps me with every meal in the kitchen.

  3. Yeah. Blammo! I know I can only do so much and forgive myself for the rest, but to imagine that everyone has their "thing" they love makes much more sense than "forgiving". My new visual is "sauntering under the raised bar." :) Thanks.

  4. I recently commented to a colleague, "Just because someone is holding a hoop, it doesn't mean you have to jump through it." I firmly agree with your comment "Your kids will remember you for the things at which you are awesome" but I would add "and they will particularly remember how you used those things to show how much you love them."

  5. Right on Pam! And I'm taping this up in my office:

    "We do what matters to us. And if someone else wants to raise the bar, let them. And then just walk the hell under it."

  6. So needed to hear this today! Once again your blog managed to make me cry but it was awesome. I agree with Cherie on your best quote. We should all hang that one up! Thanks, Pam.

  7. I love the feeling when my house is clean... I just sort of wish there was someone who existed out there that would a) do it for me and b) do it as well as I do. :) A clean house is my thing.
    I don't even want to comment on how many OTHER bars I am beneath and under...

  8. It sounds like you ARE raising the bar but since you said nice stuff about moms who don't clean, I'll pretend you aren't too good to be my online blogger friend. : )

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