3 Mistakes I've Made as a MomJessica Ashley
I got a little excited last week to see the cover of an US Magazine, not because it featured a Kardashian (because, doesn’t it ALWAYS feature a Kardashian?) but because it featured Kris Jenner on the mistakes she’s made as a mother.
The citizens of the reality-watching real world, or at least those of us with enough bars on our phone and moments to pass while our daughters and sons are in swimming/karate/hip-hop/basics of cartooning class, have already created the long-list of Kris Jenner’s parenting mistakes (several times over). But, just as it is fascinating to hear Kardashites argue over who should get the master suite in the rental McMansion in Miami for a month, it is intriguing to read one talk about their missteps. Especially when it is the matriarch (no, that’s actually not Kim).
Truthfully, I am a sucker for an epiphany, especially when it comes to raising children, blending families and navigating divorce(s).
I do believe most of us do the best we can, whether it is in the middle of yelling at a kid for spilling goldfish crackers in the car (again) or in our finest moments of tender care at 2 a.m. Sometimes we are better parents than others. Sometimes, when we find ourselves screaming over orange cracker dust in the leather seat cracks, we realize we could be more than we are in that moment, we could be calmer or sillier or less-stressed. And then we become even better than we were before, all because of what other parents, our own mothers or Us mag might label as “mistakes.”
We’ve all been there. So it is helpful, I think, to read about other mother’s missteps in parenting. The honesty and vulnerability opens a door for me to think even more honestly and vulnerably about how my “best I can” can be even better.
Kris Jenner’s mistakes, as told through an interview in the gossip rag, read like a job interview training video. She works too hard, she strives for too many opportunities for her superbly talented children and their husbands, she hasn’t been there at every whim of her grandson. The article was also an opportunity to defend her decisions to promote her teen daughters, arguing that claims that she sexualizes them at too early an age are “ridiculous,” and to stand firm that Kim’s marriage to Kris Humphries was not fabricated for television.
That defensiveness took some of the sincerity out of the “I’m sorry.” But hey, maybe I will want room to learn and grow when my son is a grown booty model who hawks Skechers that don’t work and diet formulas no one should probably try, too.
In the spirit of support for those of us who are willing to say what we could have done better (and then, hopefully, try, be it goldfish meltdown or momager wig-out), Kris Jenner has inspired me to make some of my mistakes public, too. Who knows, maybe putting them out there will remind me to be more, or will make you nod your head in agreement and then offer to be my goldfish seat-crack accountability buddy.
Here are three mistakes I admit I’ve made as a mom.
1. Soft on the bedtime routine.
My brother called me once, worried that his baby boy rolled over and fell asleep as soon as they laid him in his crib. He was concerned there was something wrong with him. I had no idea what in the world he spoke of, this other-worldly magical-unicorn notion of falling asleep immediately. For eight years, I have helped my boy drift off to sleep with a routine of reading books, saying a prayer, singing songs and then laying quietly beside him until his breathing slows to a sweet hum. It’s idyllic — and it can easily last an hour. Sometimes, even as I creep out, he asks me to pleasepleaseplease sing him another song — after I’ve sung seven. Or to stay another minute — after I’ve been silent for 20. It’s a lot. While I got worn of “Row Row Row Your Boat” and “True Colors” the 3,000th time I whisper-sang them to him, I can’t bear to give up that time at the end of the day. I’ve reasoned that time will take care of it, and soon he will be happy to read by himself and turn out the light and go to sleep. Either that, or his college roommate will insist that it is time for Mommy to leave the dorm room.
I could have stopped it, or weaned it down to a chapter and a prayer and maybe one song years and years ago. But I chose not to, and now he’s eight. And there it is.
2. Lacking in the cooking skills.
Over the weekend, I was busy folding laundry when my boy asked me to make him a toasted bagel for snack. In a flash of something wackadoodle, I did not get up from my task and get it for him. I told him to help himself and to ask me if he needed any help. Lo and behold, the kid toasted, buttered and even ATE the bagel all on his own.
Accomplishment? Hardly. At least for a second-grader. Sure, he knows how to make PB&J and had already mastered frozen waffle prep. But that is pretty much it. And it’s my fault. I have opted to rush through meal preparation and service and even clean-up on my own because it has felt more efficient. I’ve failed to invite him in often enough to make cooking together and teaching him basic skills a priority.
Fortunately, the Not Boyfriend is a chef who is on board for my son’s culinary education. I also know I need to be in on it, so I’ve started in this week by teaching him to peel a mandarin orange. Baby steps (or fruits).
3. Deficient at allowance.
Two Christmases ago, I bought my son three banks, one each for saving, spending and donating. I devised an allowance plan I said would start immediately. To date, it has not been put into action. I’ve written about allowance extensively, even interviewing the fabulous Jean Chatzky and the founder of ThreeJars.com on the best strategies for introducing children to fiscal responsibility. I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of raising a child to be a money manager. I also love that my tiny capitalist loves to earn, horde and talk about money. I blame the many other demands of single motherhood for getting in the way. But maybe being the primary parent to an only child is all the more reason to help him learn, and learn young, about being a wise spender and saver. Still, nary a quarter has been dropped in those banks. Not one dollar has been earned in allowance. It’s past time for that system to be put in place and I’m committed to reallytuly start it…next Christmas. OK, tomorrow. Gahhh.
What mistakes have you made that you are willing to fess up to?
Read more of Jessica’s adventures as a single mom in the city at Sassafrass.
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