Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Measure of a Mom

See if you can pick out which one is my child:

Gets straight A's--always.
Considers an A- to be a failure
Wants to do what's right to the very letter of the law
Gets anxious when rules are bent or broken, because that's just not supposed to happen!
Says sorry for the smallest infractions
Asks if I need any help
Is kind and thoughtful to every sibling
Has the confidence and poise of Miss America
Can converse with adults just as comfortably as with peers
Makes bed every day
Scores perfectly on standardized tests for the next higher grade level
Is in the Gifted/Talented program
Is in the process of writing a novel
Is the best dish-doer in the house
Always does homework on time and without being asked


Has passing grades, but just barely, in math and reading comprehension
Considers not having "N's" (Needs Improvement) or "U's" (Uh oh! You're toast!) on a report card a marvelous achievement
Weighs whether or not the crime is worth the consequence (it usually is)
Wails "I'm SORRY!" when caught
Requires a finger-point to the job chart to prove that we already require very specific help
Pokes and bothers each sibling incessantly
Previously disposed to wailing and howling at the mere thought of standing up in front of a group
Has no problem mouthing off to adults as well as peers
Has a top sheet? You're kidding, right?
Did not pass state standardized math test
Is in the GenPop
Covers every last inch of a school folder with drawn Star Wars scenes
Requires a dish-doing tutorial each and every Wednesday
Crumples, hides or lies about homework

Well, you're half right. They are both mine. The top one is my 15-year-old daughter, and I'm not kidding. I'm still waiting for that other teenage shoe to drop. Well, actually her 13-year-old brother picked it up, and he's dropping it all over the place. But that's another story.

By now, you've probably guessed that the second one is my Spicy Boy. I promise, he is not that negative all the time, but it is a pretty fair sampling of his life, which is why he's so spicy. Sometimes that spice is rather sweet, like mango salsa, and other times it's like wasabi. Hot, hot, hot.

I have come to understand that I can no sooner take the credit for my daughter's achievements, than I can take the blame for my son's shortcomings. It's very freeing. The measure of a mom is much, much more complex than that. It had better be, or I quit. Did I just say that out loud?

I am certain that it is precisely because of his imperfections that I have become a better mom.

So is it appropriate to tease my daughter for her overachieving ways when she earns 6 academic awards? Can I laugh because she is a foot shorter than all the juniors up on stage (because I did, and so did the whole audience)? Because I must laugh when I talk to Grandma after docking in L.A. from the cruise, and she tells me that my son was suspended for two days from school for hitting someone. And I most certainly laughed when she told me she made him scrub my kitchen floor which stretches down the hall and to the front door. Go Grandma!

Yin/Yang, I say.


  1. LOL! I guessed them both right. That's such an interesting insight and thanks for sharing it. I'm still getting there. It's so easy to measure our worth by the clean sink, the number of laundry loads completed, and the behavior (or in many cases, the misbehavior) of our children. I'm hoping to get over that....one day. For now, it's off to do some laundry! :)

  2. Cheryl-
    as usual you touch on something so personal but with great love and humor. I have the exact situation in my home with both children. Thanks for helping me think of my son more as my "spicy boy" rather than the other choice names I had come up with! Good luck with yours, and keep up the blogging! I am loving it!