Friday, March 11, 2011

I wish I were an octopus.


Or better yet, cloned! 

I'm feeling stressed and sorry for myself today.

Yesterday I was a little early dropping Gus off at Preschool.  I sat down on a bench while Gus played on the little playground, waiting til he could go inside.
Gus's teacher came out and sat down next to me.  We exchanged a little small-talk, then she got to the point.  "So, how is Gus doing with practicing his letters & reading books at home?"  I pause, thinking of how very little of that I've done with him.  And she says, very nicely, very gently,   "Is he kind of falling through the cracks a little bit?  I know you're really busy...."   Guilt.  Shame.  The sting of impending tears in the back of my eyes.   "He's just really behind in his letter sounds."

Now, I know it's just preschool, but this is the ivy-league preschool we're talking about.  I really think they're expecting them to be reading Harry Potter by the end of the year.  But still!

I'm stretched too thin and I don't like it.  But I don't know what I can cut out and keep my sanity.

I see it like this:

You have the Good Young-Child Moms and the Good Teenager Moms.

The Good Young-Child Moms will actually sit down at home with their child and practice letter sounds, they do play-dates at the park, take their kids to the zoo on a random Tuesday, play Candyland & Chutes and Ladders (instead of paying an older sibling to do it), volunteer for every Kindergarten fieldtrip, make home-made playdough, sign up for Mom & Me swim classes, spend hours making a Star Student poster, and maybe even coordinate matching Easter Sunday outfits.

I don't do any of these things.  I used to.  But not any more.  Because I'm either over it, like Tee-ball, or I just don't have the time anymore.   Because I'm busy trying to be a Good Teenager Mom too.
I'm trying to play in both courts at the same time & feel like I'm losing bad!  Fifty percent at both ends.


So then you have to sit by the Good Teenager Moms at your junior highschooler's basketball games.

Good Teenager Moms don't have any little ones at home any more, so they can devote all their time & energy to their teens.  They do things like make it to every game/recital/tournament/concert their child is in.  They'll even have their hair & makeup done and be there on time.
Good Teenager Moms will do things like bring their Jr. High student lunch from Sonic so they don't have to eat the cafeteria food, and take their 14-year old & a car-load of their friends to a movie on a Friday night.  They stay up late to chat with their teenagers who are most talkative late at night.  They're always available to take them to the mall, and know all the ins & outs of the high school graduation requirements.  They're on top of the whole Scouting thing, put team parties & banquets together, and always have their cell phones on them so they can text their teens back & forth.

I'm not doing well in this category either.


I'm trying to keep in mind one of my favorite quotes:

"You don't have to do everything there is to do,
in order to become who you are meant to become."

Comforting........except when you have a child  "falling through the cracks".

So maybe I'm being a little dramatic, a little hard on myself.  But this mothering of a wide agespan is harder than I thought it would be.  There are so many positives, but so hard to do it well.

I'm feeling much better now.

I think I'll pull out the Candyland.

22 comments:

Kurt and Marnie said...

Oh Nicole! You are such a good mom. Each one of your children will turn out exactly as they should-----wonderful, human beings and it's because of you! No guilt! (I'm giving this pep talk to you and me both.)

pakosta said...

I think that's terrible how she put that on you in those terms, falling through the cracks! for pete's sake, it's PRESCHOOL! they didn't used to learn letter sounds until 1st and 2nd grades! they are taking it far too seriously! you are a great mom and I think he will learn how to read when he is darn good and ready!!!!!
seriously, it's far more important how good your children's hearts are rather than whether or not they can read really well in PRESCHOOL! sheesh!!! I feel bad for yoU! don't let anyone make you feel less than you are. you have a wide range of ages and I bet if you asked your children, they would say you are awesome!
xoxo
tara

Julie said...

For real?! Here's my take on kids who start kindergarten reading and way ahead of the curve. They are rockstars for that year until ALL the other kids catch up, and they do, and then the playing field is level.

But I think what bugs me the most is her having the nerve to suggest your kid is falling through the cracks.

Falling through the cracks is coming to school with a bathingsuit under your jeans because your Mom was too busy to wash underwear Falling through the cracks is spraying your kid with febreeze because there was no time for a bath. Falling through the cracks is feeding your kid homemade sugar cookies for breakfast because you're out of milk and eggs, again. I've done all of those things more than once.

I guess my point is, my kids fall through the cracks ALL the time because life is busy and there is so much to do and I can't do it all. But I do my very best, even when I lose my temper, and my kids know it. Even when they are in the cracks. They know their mama loves them and that I've got their backs.

Go play candy land and forget about his ABC's. Let the Ivy League preschool worry about that. :) That's what you're paying them for, right?

sarahandmatt said...

You're doing GREAT. Think of it this way--You know that your child is "falling through the cracks". Bad moms are too busy going to lunch with their friends and getting a pedicure to notice that their child needs something extra. It's just preschool. Some kids develop earlier. If you want him to know his letter sounds, though, just buy him the DVD of the Leapfrog Letter Factory. Once I had a two-year-old who knew all of his letter sounds because he watched that thing so much. Well worth the $9. Anyway, you're trying. Good moms keep on trying.

Katie said...

Thank you for your posts when you share your thoughts. You are admired for all you do in your home for your family.

I ditto the leap frog letter factory dvd. Works like a charm! A preschool teacher gave me the same lecture about my son too. Got the dvd- problem solved.

This Elder Holland youtube video is a nice message for moms. Some parts a little cheesy, but uplifting too.
Here is the lilnk:
www.youtube.com/mormonmessages?v=WbYLKVgwztY

or search for- motherhood:an eternal partnership with God.

I eat m&m's. I call them mother's medicine. This, of course, solves all my problems.

dg darling said...

I hear ya honey...

Really though, just think, by the time he goes to college he'll have those sounds down and that's all that matters!

And by the way...We all think you're wonderful and you really can't argue with this many people so...

Tracey said...

All I have to say is.. I admire you for having babies and teenagers at the same time! In the end, the sacrifices you make will bless everyone of your children's lives in ways you probably can not even comprehend right now.

I was the oldest in my family and had a little sister coming, while I was planning my wedding... Now that's a little extreme but, I had no idea back then what blessings were in store for me and all my children to come! We are reaping the rewards and many blessings today, that have come from the sacrifices my parents made! I can't imagine life any other way! It keeps things fun.

Hang in there.. Your an amazing momma!

johnsonteammom said...

Wow, you have the best of friends giving you fabulous advice. I truly can appreciate your post as yesterday my son got to start his mission papers and the one year old woke up with a fever. I do everything halfway except what is truly important and you are already doing the truly important things, so let it go. I want to "like" all the comments your friends have said, especially about letting the preschool worry about it since that is what you're paying them for. Chin up.

Steph said...

I read this post earlier today and had to walk away from it before commenting. It made me angry. Not you, but the PRESCHOOL TEACHER.

As a former kinder teacher IN Mesa (I only left because I moved to Pittsburgh), I had kids come in who couldn't hold a pencil. Kinder is like a multi-age classroom--all different levels, often drastically. Kids who can read fluently and kids who cannot hold a pencil.

Trust me, your Gus is benefitting from living his life with your family and his letters and sounds will come and like a previous commenter said, by the end of kinder...typically they're on a level playing field.

Keep up the GREAT parenting of teenagers, babies and all those in between!
xoxox

Holly said...

Just don't be pregnant with your eighth kid at Marlee's wedding reception and then pregnant with her at the same time, comparing bellies and stuff. That's what my grandma did with my mom :). Totally kidding! Well it IS true, but I don't think you're gonna do that! My kids aren't even spread very far apart and I struggle with the whole mom thing at times too. You are a WONDERFUL mother, friend, sister, wife. I didn't mean to put sister and wife so close together. Dang I'm getting sidetracked now. Hey, maybe that's what you need, a sister wife. Totally kidding! Chin up, girl! You're amazing!!! Ha ha! Enough of my randomness. Apparently my lack of sleep is REALLY kicking in now! Big hugs!!!!

that's what she said...

Hi, I found you through shawni's blog.

and really-i think you've got it down the best anyone could. don't worry about a thing! have him watch the leapfrog letter factory (and the related videos) and he'll have it down before the show is even over! hang in there!

nella said...

I LOVE this post. I've never met you but I'd like to think we could hang out and swap crazy family life stories(if you pass through St. George give me a ring!). I always find it difficult to look around and see so many moms who are faster, more fit and more fun than me. I run myself ragged and there are always things "slipping through the cracks" in our family. However, I have to get all Pollyanna sometimes and look at the things that are going well. Get your Pollyanna on and look at your family with rose-colored glasses. I can tell how amazing you are and how blessed your kids are to have you as a mom: both the teenagers & the babies.

queenofthecreek.com said...

I am SO THERE with you! By 3.5 my oldest could say the alphabet and write his name. Nic at 4 now, cannot do either. =( Nic is well taken care of and loved... but my oldest (15) NEEDS ME MORE THAN EVER. Even if he says he doesn't.
This is a fantastic post... I don't have an answer - but I feel ya. ♥♥♥

kms said...

It's preschool.

Isn't that why you are sending him, so THEY can work on letters and such? I mean you aren't home schooling preschool. Get Leapfrog letter factory from the library.

Michelle said...

Nik...
Statistics show that by the 3rd grade, the kids are all pretty much on the same page.
And you know that I am SO with you on this. I *really* want to be the awesome mom for my teenagers...but it's too hard to do when you are toting around little ones. And I really want to cuddle with my little ones, but it's too hard when your older ones need to go here - or there - or are just SO grumpy that no one dares make a peep or even LOOK in their direction.
Let's run away for a little while...and just take our favorite kids with us... hmmmm... now... who to chose?
xoxoxo

jill said...

Nicole,
I LOVE your blog! I get on it just to feel like a normal mom--seriously--I love that you keep it real..but you prioritize the important things.
I have to say a few weeks ago--I felt the exact same way---feeling like I was falling through as a mother. My own mother sent me a talk...

http://www.byub.org/talks/Talk.aspx?id=2031

It's a member of the General YW presidency--at Women's conference...and you want to know my favorite quote from it?---"If you are a good mother 60% of the time, you ARE a GOOD mother."

I love it...it hits personally because that is my mother--carol b. thomas!

You can download it to your ipod or listen to it on your iphone if you want. I listened to it while I was exercising.

BTW--if I'm half as good of a mom as your kids are turning out to be...I will thank my lucky stars. :)

Robyn said...

Brace yourself. I'm about to write my own post in your comment section :)

"Falling through the cracks" is having no one tell you they love you for weeks on end. "Falling through the cracks" is having no one make eye contact with you for days. "Falling through the cracks" is not being held, or hugged, or touched.

"Falling through the cracks" is not being loved - which is certainly not the case with Gus - or Marlee, or Zane, or Caroline, or Jake, or Max . . . did I forget someone? :)

That said, not being able to give all of your children 100% of all that you wish you could give is staggeringly painful. Momma guilt is real and it's debilatating.

What I'm learning (SLOWLY and REMEDIALLY unfortunately) is that it's all about prayer. Prayer makes it possible to know what, and who, is the priority at the moment.

Of course, you know all of this. I certainly don't mean to sound preachy. It's just that goodness knows I hear ya sista.

And nothing, NOTHING, hurts quite as bad as being told directly or indirectly that you are falling short as a mother.

But you know what - your'e a total stranger yet I've followed your blog for well over a year because your life is beautiful. It's real, and it's full of smiles, and good times, and the love you have for your family can be felt all the way over here.

Your blog reminds me just how wonderful families are.

teamkc said...

WOW! I used to read this blog and think, "I wish my children were not so close in age and more like Cloud 8 - spread apart." But I NEVER thought how hard this would be - you are a champion! You are a good mom, look how happy your children are - that is what matters! Keep your chin up!

shawni said...

Ditto all those comments. Oh man it's so tough to find the balance with everything in motherhood. I will say that Claire was "falling through the cracks" in preschool too, but is now a champion reader, and I, so overwhelmed in life, didn't really help her a bit. She learned it all in school. It's true that it all evens out. But I know you know that already, because hey, you do have a LOT of kids ;)

I'm sad we missed you up in Utah! I hope we'll get to see you some time soon!

Maddie said...

I loved reading what you wrote!! I can understand what you mean...I don't have as many children as you and the age span is not as much(14,12,and 2 1/2) but so much of what you said is the the way I feel many times :) Thanks for sharing your true feelings-you are not alone :) Hope everything falls into place for you soon.

Rachel said...

This is why I love blogs! There is a virtual army of kind-hearted readers who've got your back! You don't know me, I found you through Shawni's blog. I am totally in awe of how much you do, how you hold everything together with such humor & aplomb. And beauty.
I have four little kiddos and I think I've already burned myself into the ground! My first two got that special mommy attention in regards to all things academic, and now I'm resting on my laurels. Which means my almost-four year old doesn't practice letters with Mommy. She watches Barbie movies instead. ;)

I agree with the comments, falling through the cracks was an insensitive and ridiculous comment. There is such a developmentally inappropriate approach to school these days. I wasn't a great reader until about third grade, and let me tell you, I scored perfectly in both Reading & English on the ACT. And went on to teach college English. I only write this to add a voice of reason to the academic craziness out there today. It would be way more worrisome if your child didn't get love or time to play! So, you're good. ;)

sherry said...

Oh boy I am right there with you and feel like I am not doing either of them well. The teenagers may be the death of us all. It was so much easier when they were all little...p.s- I think you're awesome.;)

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