Mom — quantity or quality

Ok people, this post is going to be real, raw and unedited. I think there is a lot of judging of moms that goes on. I know I have been guilty of it in the past and I think it’s time we stop and just appreciate that we are MOMs and we’re all different and that’s ok.

What brings up this issue today is me copying old home videos to my computer so I can upload them to YouTube for the kids to be able to watch them. Let’s first be honest and say I intended to do this for years but just never got it done and all these “precious” home videos we had to have have NEVER been watched.

This morning I was copying off the Tball game of my oldest son. Poor kid. Mine was the child who swung the bat and swung around in a circle. He didn’t just do this once, he did it almost every time. He is also the child who sat down on first base when it was his turn to play first baseman. He ran from second and stopped at short stop instead of running all the way to third. Yes, he was THAT child.

But it wasn’t really his fault. As you look out in the field you see lots of dads. But not his. His father wanted him to play t ball, insisted I sign him up, promised to be there for practices and games but in reality, he rarely showed. Work was always more important to him than his wife and children. I’m not angry or bitter about it. That’s just how it was. It is what it is, it was what it was and we cannot change it.

So I’m watching these videos of his missing father and thinking how many sports moms I know. They do sports for every child, go to all the practices, all the events, and they schedule their lives around that sort of stuff. Some days I wish I could be that mom..but let’s face it. Sometimes I SUCK at being a mom. The truth is out. Momhood was not what I ever intended to be. My dream, my goals, my desires never included children. I planned to be CEO of some fortune 500 company and children would prevent that. It was, however, their father’s dream to have children and so I obliged thinking we’d have one or two and be done. But God has a funny way of stretching us beyond what we can handle and we had six. Yes SIX!

Ok…so for me momhood was a torturous ordeal. I didn’t mind being pregnant at least until the horrible heartburn would hit towards the end. I’m talking the kind of heartburn where even when all you drink is water and you feel like your insides are going to light your whole body on fire. It was horrible. I even endured the birthing experience without too much trouble and handling the babies was something I knew how to do. With each stage of development and with each child I grew and learned to manage whatever came next.

However, I hate housework, I hate laundry, I despise grocery shopping and cooking is a chore that I think is equivalent to being held prisoner in a concentration camp. I tried cooking and no matter what…I failed miserably. I resigned myself to the fact that other than the Christmas and Thanksgiving pies that I can make including my own crust when I have the time, I pretty much can only cook hamburger helper and macaroni and cheese.

Yes, motherhood for me was an excruciating experience one that has lasted far longer than the original 18 year term I signed on for and yet one that in so many ways has brought me lots of joy. I do love my children. I have enjoyed teaching them, most of the time, most of them as we decided to homeschool many years ago and that has changed over the years as well. But I was there to see their first smile, to see them roll over, learn to walk, explore things, discover and learn. And those moments I wouldn’t trade for anything. The joys of seeing them delight in learning something new is well worth all the housekeeping things I am no good at.

Back to the Tball game. So…watching the Tball game and seeing my son struggle so much to play a sport that his father never bothered to teach him does make me a little sad. All those other dads out there helping their sons and everyone else’s sons learn the game. The funny thing is, my husband would have thought himself better than some of these dads because he was successful and made more money but I think these dads, the garage mechanic, the tow truck driver, the used car salesman, whatever these dad’s jobs were that my husband considered less than his…they were THERE for their kids, involved in their lives. What I would have traded for a husband who was part of the family, who was there for his kids. I cannot imagine that kind of life. Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver, that was my dream of what life was supposed to look like and mine, was no where close to that.

My oldest son played t ball for two seasons. He didn’t seem to care much about it and wasn’t naturally good at it. But team sports are important so I tried. His second season of Tball I was 9 months pregnant in Texas in August during one of the hottest summers we had in 10 years. I made sure to get him to practice and to games and to sit in the heat and endure the swelling of my hands and feet and watch and cheer him on. I think I missed his last game because I just physically couldn’t handle the heat but I made all the others. His father promised to help with the practices and games but in reality I think he made two games and no practices.

Three years later I tried again. This time we had two boys and a young daughter. My husband was now working in New York City while we lived in Texas. He promised that if I would take the boys to practice he would be there for the games. So I found a new sports organization that had soccer and tball and said they both played at the same location but their times would not overlap. So I signed the oldest up for soccer. He wanted to play soccer and the younger son up for tball. I managed to get them both to practices each week and then it was time for the games.

As it turns out this new organization decided to change things up a bit. They overlapped the games and put them at the same school but different locations and it was too far for me to walk between fields with little kids. So my Saturday morning routine was to drop the oldest off at his soccer game and get the baby who was only 7 or 8 months old out of the car into the stroller and manage to push the stroller and carry two chairs to the soccer field. We sat down and watched about 15 – 20 minutes of his game. Then I had to pack them all up and get back to the car. I drove over to the second field where my younger son played tball. I got everything out again and carried it to field #2 and sat down and watched about 10 – 15 minutes of his game. Then I asked a total stranger to keep an eye on him while I went to pick up my older son. Packed everything back to the car, drove back to field #1 picked up oldest son and hurried him along. He couldn’t even celebrate with his team with the snacks that some lucky mom provided because we had to get back to the second sons game. Get him back to the car and drive back over to field #2 just in time to catch maybe a few minutes of my younger sons Tball game. And I did this every Saturday ALONE! Yep. My husband decided that joining the Coast Guard Auxiliary was more important to him than his children’s sports. He had gotten his private pilot’s license and discovered that if he volunteered with the Coast Guard Auxiliary he could rent a plane and write off the cost of the plane and the fuel as a tax deduction and fly around the lake all day. Yes, he was doing his civil duty while I put our boys in sports that he thought was important.

The end of the boys sports days came rather quickly. My husband’s mother was confined to a wheelchair. One morning when I was getting our older son out to his game I saw an ambulance. I don’t know why but my first thought was…it was probably here for his mother. Sure enough…as I got closer to the field people were all talking about a lady who fell. When I inquired what was going on I was told a lady in a wheelchair fell out of her chair. Yep…that would have been my mother in law. I went over to see what was going on and sprawled out on the ground surrounded by several paramedics was my husband’s mother. It seems a step wasn’t marked with color and she just rolled right over it and fell out of her chair. She wanted me to ride in the ambulance with her. Seriously! How am I going to do that? I have 3 small children and her son is nowhere to be found. I don’t think they will let the little kids ride in the ambulance. I called my husband on the phone and told him what had happened and I told him that he had better get his butt where he belonged because I couldn’t handle this. It was his mother and he needed to go and meet her at the hospital because I couldn’t. I decided at that moment if he wasn’t going to be involved with the kids playing sports then I wasn’t going to do it either. And so my oldest finished out that season of soccer and never played an organized sport again and my younger son finished out his one and only tball and never played an organized sport again and our youngest son has never had the opportunity to play an organized sport.

It makes me sad that the boys couldn’t do what other boys do. I do blame their father but I also blame myself because I just couldn’t manage to do it. I admire those moms who have what it takes to do all of that. However, I also know that many of those moms send their children to school every day. I choose to homeschool my kids. So we chose what was important and educating my children was more important to me than sports and that was about all I could handle. Was I right? Was I wrong? It doesn’t really matter. It is what it is, it was what it was and I cannot change it.

As I finish up this blog my oldest son comes to me with a piece of PVC pipe. He is almost 22 years old and we just spent the last 5 months living full time in our RV. We started our trip heading to Alaska and spent 57 days in Alaska. During that trip the kids kayaked in the ocean around glaciers, they had killer whales, sea lions, seals and otters swimming around them. They kayaked on a glacier and ate lunch on a glacier, they kayaked in and out of ice caves. My oldest went ice climbing and his younger brother got to go up in a small plane and fly over glaciers. We got to spend 2 weeks in Deanli and my oldest daughter and oldest son went hiking for 3 days and 2 overnights in the backwoods of Denali. The younger three and I went to camp in the campground in the deepest part of Deanli for 2 days and 1 night. The kids saw many grizzly bears, moose, and caribou. They picked blueberries and ate them right off the vine. The younger kids did water experiments at Denali and learned about what is in our water, what life it supports and how important it is for our survival.

If you’re wondering about that whole cooking and house keeping thing. Well at some point my children started learning to cook. My oldest daughter now does most of the cooking because…she LIKES to cook! Really? Still amazes me. I believe in teaching my children responsibility and so they have all learned to cook, clean, do laundry, whatever needs to be done around the house they’ve all learned to do. Some are better at it than others but they all know how to manage running a house. I’m still not the perfect mother. We still don’t do organized sports. If we are camping somewhere that sports are being played I encourage the kids to join in and learn. I’ve discovered my youngest son really seems to be talented in sports and I wish that I had what it took to put him in a team and commit to the practices and games. But he will just have to be satisfied with playing when he can because I know my limits.

I’m not the best mom. I am the first to admit that. I’ve been criticized by friends for how I do things. That’s ok. I don’t like how some of my mom friends raise their kids either. But I don’t tell them that because I know that we are all doing the best we can. We’re all different and that’s ok. But I also know that despite our shortcomings our kids will still grow and become who they were meant to be if we are doing our best.

Oh that PVC pipe my oldest just brought me. He’s been experimenting with creating his own jet fuel. He’s trying to build his own rocket engines. He never ceases to amaze me all the things he teaches himself. Just like my daughter and her cooking. She can and has cooked a full Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey something I tried once and failed miserably but she makes look so easy.

That whole QUANTITY versus QUALITY argument that has gone on for so long among moms. I don’t think it matters at all. If you are like me, more comfortable in the corporate world managing data and meetings and you are only home with your kids evenings and weekends, make the most of that time. If you are a stay at home mom with your kids in school and only see them after school and on weekends, make the most of that time. If you’re a stay at home, homeschooling do it all mom, make sure you don’t burn yourself out and take some time off for yourself and enjoy it. Your kids NEED YOU. And Dad if you are like my husband and never around for your wife and kids, I pray that you are convicted because boys need a father. We mom’s can only teach our sons so much in life. They need a man to help them into manhood. My sons didn’t get that for many years and it shows but they have overcome that and with the help from godly men at church who volunteer their time to be there for kids with no fathers.

It is what it is, it was what it was. All we can do is make the best of the hand that was dealt us. I pray you, wherever you are learn that lesson and enjoy this time you have with your kids, however much or little that is.