I'm not shy about not being particularly good at this kid thing. I love mine, of course. And sometimes I even enjoy kids' activities and playdates -- but in general, I'm a flop at understanding what to do with the younger set.
This bothers me. It's the kind of thing you feel weird discussing with others, because what will they think? I'm not good at kids, and I have them. I can hear the warning sirens firing off, demanding I start saving up for my children's future therapy needs now.
I've spent a lot of time pondering all the different kinds of moms. And I don't mean the helicopter mom vs. permissive mom vs. any of the other parenting styles so often discussed. I mean different moms who are good at different things.
Like, I have friend who is fantastic at doing crafts with her kids. I think her house must have a secret art supply stash room somewhere. And you know what? That's cool, because she enjoys creating stuff with them. Plus, when we visit, my kids always get to make something really neat.
Another friend is darn good at playing with her kids outside. It doesn't matter what the weather is; she is on it. Sleds and parkas in the winter get traded in for rain boots and sunblock as the weather warms. If it's light out, she and the kids are out, soaking up all that vitamin D goodness.
I admire my friend who aces staying relaxed, something that is too often overlooked in our culture. She and her children chill, relax and play their way through their days. And I don't think she ever stresses. Her children are going to grow up to be the most zen creatures on this Earth.
Another friend schools a bevy of extracurriculars for her kids; another is the queen of fun kid vacations; another hasn't stopped reading her daughter books from the moment she came out of the womb. Others are good at teaching, at laughing, at baking, at... you get the point: we're all different.
And that's OK, because we need a boatload of different people in this world. It's a really good thing that people are raised in different ways with different focuses. Variety is the spice of life, right?
Recently, I was chatting this over with a friend (you know, the real kind of friend, the one who doesn't judge you for still being in your pajamas at 1 p.m.), and she had a brilliant point. She noted that it's not just the particular things we are good at doing with our kids, but the particular ages of our children that highlight our mothering strengths. This made so much sense!
As in, while my children are their current age, I might shudder with impatience at the idea of teaching them to play piano -- but when my daughter is older, I would love to teach her to knit. My friend talked about the brutality of trying to entertain her little kids, but she now loves hanging out and catching movies with her teenagers. There will always be ages and stages we handle better than others, and this is OK, too. We always love our kids; we might just have times when we shine a bit more than others.
What am I good at? Not young kids, for sure, but I do have hopes for future years. And while I suck at taking my kids to lessons, live in fear of glitter and am terrible at Play-Doh, I'm not terrible at making a big deal of special little things. The silly days and events no one cares about? I probably do, and I celebrate them with our kids. Whether it's trekking out to the Farm Show every year or throwing a rockin' Groundhog Day party, it's probably a happening for our family.
So, it works. For us. And that's the bottom line: Everyone has her strength, and it might look nothing like the neighbor's. Moms, find your glory, and go share it with your kiddos. Being you is one powerful gift to give your children.