Kids’ activities can be rough for us. Between schlepping our girls from acrobatics lessons to swim team practice, their clothes (and my car) can start smelling pretty bad, no matter how many times I toss their towels and uniforms in the washer.
I don’t know how moms whose kids do ALL THE ACTIVITIES do it.
When you’re in high school, can’t wait to get out of the house and away from your parents’ rules.
When you’re in college, you want to graduate, make money, move to a cool new city, and be out in the real world.
When you’re newly employed and in your early twenties, you can’t wait for the promotion, get married, and start the rest of your life.
When you’re engaged, you’re planning a wedding. You get caught up in the minutiae of choosing your bridesmaids, the flowers, the band, THE DRESS, and the guest list. And then you blink and the day is over.
I’m an animal lover. I love dogs, cats, rabbits, horses,
even cows. Give me all ‘dem animals (except reptiles… those can go somewhere else!)
Before we had kids, we had two black labs. You can read about them here.
I loved those dogs. When I was at work, I would literally sit at my desk and wonder if they were thinking about me at home. I even once asked my veterinarian if he thought dogs could feel love. He looked at me like I was weird and then said “yes, of course!” (After that, the vet also stopped calling me to report about the dogs and instead, called my husband, but that’s a sensitive subject for another time.)
This is part 2 of a 4-part series about finding a nanny. Part 1 is here. It was authored by my friend and one of the baddest mamma jamma lawyer moms around, Shylie Bannon.
Once you’ve posted the personal ad for a nanny and the applicants start rolling in, you get to start evaluating potential candidates!
It’s just like Tinder—should I swipe right or left?
You should pay attention to the detail contained in the response. Did the candidate personalize her response, or did it seem like she copied and pasted the same message she sent to 20 other jobs? Did she proofread her response before sending it? And although it sounds shallow—how does this person look in her profile picture? Do you want someone who thinks that posting a sultry “duck lips” photo on their caregiving profile to be responsible for your child?
When my girls were little, I hired a mother’s helper to help me get stuff done around the house. You can read the post here. Now that they’re older and we are more interested in saving money, we’ve scaled back on the Mother’s Helper and the cleaning is now left to me.
strategy: one big clean every quarter, followed by smaller follow-up cleans
Last week, I was at the courthouse when opposing counsel told me his wife was busy hauling their eight year-old daughter, who is a couple years older than my daughters, to after school activities.
Let me see if I remember this correctly. His daughter partook in ten activities. You didn’t read it wrong. Ten.
Chess, soccer, French lessons, dance, competitive gymnastics, swim, violin, Girl Scouts, mini yoga, and sewing. My colleague said his daughter didn’t get home until after 9 p.m. each night and that she still had to do her homework and shower before bed.
Hearing this child’s schedule was exhausting.
Then it started creeping in: MOM GUILT.
As background, I have a personal policy in my home that each of my kids is allowed two extracurricular activities at a given time. Two activities gives my kids freedom to decide what to do without them burning out. It also allows me to maintain sanity, as I work part time as a lawyer and have a crazy schedule. I know my personal limits, and any more activities will trigger irritation that results in impatience, yelling, and nothing good.
Notwithstanding this personal rule of two activities, I began comparing myself to my colleague’s wife and felt like a crappy mother. I questioned whether my two-activity policy was selfish. I asked myself whether I was depriving my kids of amazing opportunities because I didn’t want to chauffeur them anymore than I already did.
“What if the girls have more talent than Frederic Chopin and I’ll never know about it because they don’t take piano lessons? Should I go online and order a Baby Grand?”
I stressed about it for a couple days.
Then I had the epiphany.
I have to do what is best for me and my family and own it.
I can lie to myself all day and pretend to be the type of mom that I want to be instead of the mom I actually am. You know what would happen? It would never fly.
Here’s the reality.
I’m not a Pinterest mom. I love OTHER Pinterest moms, but party planning is not my gift. I’m content with throwing a party at a park with a pizza, bounce house, and decorations that don’t match. I just want my kids to have fun.
I’m not a PTA mom. I love OTHER PTA moms, but committee stuff is not my gift. Yes, I can do it and get it done, but it’s not my calling. I love attending events and don’t have to be on the planning committee. I’d rather let other moms have the proverbial floor. I’m content being an Indian and not the Chief.
I’m not a Sally Homemaker mom. I love OTHER Sally Homemaker moms, but keeping house is not my gift. I marvel over the way some moms make cleaning, homemaking, and raising children look effortless. I aspire to be that way and ask them for advice, but that’s just not how God wired me.
I’m not the patient Math Tutor mom. I love OTHER Math Tutor moms, but if I want my kids to love me, I have to let someone else help them with their homework. Otherwise, it ends with tears, frustration, and eye rolls. Because fractions and long division.
I am not the mom who is going to put her kids in ten activities. I love and respect those moms. I’m not shaming them. Some kids enjoy being super active. Some kids need to burn off energy. Some moms like driving their kids everywhere and don’t mind getting home late.
But those are not my kids and that is not me. I’m not going to let Mom Guilt blind me to what my kids and I really need, which is time to rest before bedtime.
Just because being a Pinterest mom, PTA mom, Sally Homemaker mom, Math Tutor mom, or Activity mom aren’t my gifts doesn’t mean I don’t have them. There are plenty of other things to bring to the table and I’ll own what I know I am: a chauffeur, therapist, cook, knock-knock joke teller, laundry lady, hairdresser, stylist, snack-maker, sideline-cheerer, bedtime storyteller, board game-player, movie watcher, and teacher.
I’m okay with all those things. I don’t need to be a Pinterest mom. I just care about doing my best.
A couple months ago, I deposed a plaintiff who had a traumatic brain injury from a catastrophic car accident. If the case wasn’t ongoing, I’d share the property damage photographs, but this man is lucky to be alive.
This man is highly educated and worked as an architect at a large, worldwide firm. He claims his cognitive dysfunction has left him unable to hold down gainful employment.