Something recently shifted in me, thanks to all of you professional life coach/gratitude cheerleaders who always post positive memes or inspirational quotes. Keep doing it, please, because mothers like me need you now. Your posts are sinking in! I like to think of the positives when it comes to our ‘new normal’.
We all knew months ago that there was no way in hell our kids were going back to school. First, I was upfront with my 7-year-old’s teacher and told him that on my days, school work will probably not get done. My son ends up in tears. I’m in tears. Any therapist watching this dynamic of me teaching my son would say, “Yeah, you guys are just not going to work out.” Duh! After I pleaded with my son to write a damn sentence about raccoons, my angelic-looking 7-year-old sarcastically responded, “That’s not going to happen!” I laughed and I quit teaching that second. But, over these last few months, being at home with my kids for so many hours and days on end, I’ve realized the pluses of school closures. Dare I say it? Selfishly, as a working mother, I’m THRILLED my children no longer are in actual schools.
9 Reasons This Selfish Mom Is Happy About School Closures
1. I don’t have strict schedules. I no longer set my alarm for 5:55 a.m. to drive my daughter to school for swim practice, or for extra help, at 6:45 a.m. Likewise, I don’t have to wait for her to come home from swim meets, waiting anywhere from 15 minutes to 55 minutes for the bus to get back to the school, depending on traffic and construction. I don’t have to bribe my son to get him to basketball at 7 p.m. each week, after much whining, “I don’t want to go,” over and over, to which I respond, “You have to go,” over and over, until we come to a halt, where I then have to bribe him and still have to drive in rush hour traffic. What mother out there doesn’t feel some sense of relief, no matter how much your kid misses their activities, that you don’t have to drive? I was glad when my daughter quit hockey. It was every single Saturday and Sunday, plus night practices. I was tired. I didn’t want to spend hours in a hockey rink, while also sometimes having to bring her much younger sibling who didn’t want to go. It’s unfortunate for kids, for sure, but as a selfish mom? I have not driven my kids anywhere in months, so much so, I actually forgot how my tech-savvy car even turns on! (Oh, right, push the start button.) Selfishly, I do not miss driving my kids to activities, whether it’s super early, or right in the heart of rush hour traffic. I no longer feel like an unpaid personal driver, which is nice.
2. I don’t feel that horrible guilt that comes with missing out. When my son would ask me to drive him to school, but I couldn’t because I had to be at the office, or had a meeting, and needed to be prepared, I felt terrible. Now that there is no school, he doesn’t ask, and I don’t feel guilty. I also no longer feel guilty about not being able to show up at something at my children’s school, something that’s important to them, but falls in the middle of a workday (“We invite all parents to our Valentine’s Day tea at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday!”) Of course I usually managed to make these things – not always – but I wasn’t really present, anyway, because I was always thinking about what’s on my working mom to-do list. I’m a much more present mother to him now, thanks to school closures, even if he’s on his iPad and I’m on my computer, at least we’re at the same table, often chatting.
3. If you have a teenager, you no longer have to “wait up” because they are not going anywhere at night. It’s a huge relief to know where my daughter is, without having to try to stay up for her 1 am curfew, which I sometimes couldn’t do anyway. It’s also a huge relief that I don’t have to host pre-parties for my teen, or sleepovers, which I once banned; the kids stay up way too late, and without a doubt they are at their finest “Cranky Mode” after a sleepover or late night party.
4. Playdates. Of course I want my kids to see their friends, but really, there’s this whole going-back-and-forth trying to figure out a time and day that fits around the kid’s insane amount of activities, and that uncomfortable question of, “Which house?,” and, “What time should I pick him up?” I’m a laid-back mother, so, when playdates happened at my house, 99 percent of the time, the clothes the kid arrived in end up covered in blue paint and soaking wet when they are picked up because I don’t really know what happened, I just heard laughter, so assumed things were fine.
5. We are not rushing to go anywhere. No appointments, school, activities, visiting families, attending birthday parties. I don’t have to say, repeatedly, “You need to put on socks now!” each and every time we leave the house, and, “The car is leaving in five minutes! If you’re not in it, I’m leaving anyway!” The selfish mom in me does not miss rushing and yelling, “We are already 15 minutes late!” I do not miss the morning madness. I don’t even set an alarm anymore, and that, in itself, is so freeing, because, well, alarm clocks suck!
6. I can see what it’s like to be a stay-at-home mom. I may just add this to my LinkedIn profile. I’m not joking! This may be this selfish mother’s happiest and most positive lesson I’ve learned, thanks to this pandemic. Since becoming a parent 16 years ago, I’ve always been a working mom. I barely took Canada’s amazing maternity leave. This really is the first time I’ve felt like a stay-at-home mom, with my children around, all day, for so many weeks consecutively. I always wondered if I was missing something by often putting my career first. I’ve always thought, “No way in hell could I be a stay-at-home-mom.” This has been a good test. Guess what? I actually like being a stay-at-home-mom! Who fucking knew? Since I graduated from University the first time around – I’m in school, right now, going back as a Mature Student – I’ve worked more 12 hour days than not, including numerous weekends. But, I finally can witness and enjoy what it’s like to be around my kids, 24/7 (even if I’m still working at the kitchen table.) Yes, I have a nanny, but I’ve always bowed down to stay-at-home moms. It’s made me realize I was missing out on a lot. Not major things, but details like, “When did my son start liking colouring books?” When did my daughter set up her own LinkedIn account? So while I don’t do things like housework, or cooking or cleaning (my son is fine eating organic peanut butter out of a jar for dinner, I promise), the school closures have made me really see the appeal of being stay-at-home mom, although my nanny is around, to do the housework mostly. I’ve sort of found the sweet spot of parenting. I can work for a couple of hours, then play basketball with my son for 40 minutes. And then I can work for a bit more, and take a 25-minute bike ride with my daughter, then back to work. Again, I never thought I had it in me, but I do now! Am I exhausted at the end of the day, now that I know what it’s like to be a stay at home mother? Yes, yes I am. But I’m exhausted by 11 a.m, mind you, and still plow through the days with my kids, so, yeah, patience, work ethic, being forward-thinking for things my kids could do, should really be highlighted on my LinkedIn page.
7. I get to witness my kids having actual childhoods. This is especially true of my 7-year-old. I do think the Universe is trying to tell us to slow down, including letting children be children. I know! Shocking concept! Not once, throughout this, have my kids complained about being bored. When I walked into our entertainment room the other day, my son had not only pulled up his laptop, but also managed to find old basketball games, and since I have a basketball net, he was pretending to be on one of the teams. It’s called imagination! With no school, and less structure, he’s one completely happy kid, collecting worms, getting muddy and sweaty running around, doing wipeouts on purpose in the backyard, playing with balloons, colouring, playing Xbox, and asking Siri questions like, “Are you wearing underwear?” I’ve been watching him draw with markers all over his body, make bracelets with plastic beads, name and organize all his stuffed animals, teach me how to dunk like Michael Jordan, play hide-and-seek, and rip out weeds in the yard. And my 7-year-old is all smiles, almost all day long. He’s getting a true childhood, all because of school closures.
8. I don’t miss big birthday parties. I do feel bad that my son, who turns eight shortly, will not be getting a birthday party with his friends. But, since I was always the one organizing his birthday parties, sending out invitations, chasing down RSVPs, dealing with the venue, not to mention the cost (about $1000) plus getting a birthday cake, and making sure everyone, especially my son, has a good time, well, I can’t say I’ll miss that, and I’ve just saved myself a thousand dollars! This year, I’m doing something special that he will be overjoyed with, even with no friends or family, and will cost me way less. My son, just like my daughter years before, had a birthday invite every single weekend last year, if not two. We haven’t gotten a birthday invitation in months, which means, selfishly, I’m happy I don’t have to run out, usually last minute on the way to the birthday, thinking “Damn! The toy stores don’t open until 11 and this party starts at 11!” I’m not spending anywhere from $25 to $50, each weekend for gifts, depending on how close my kid is with the birthday boy. I’m saving money. Plus kids’ parties are just exhausting.
9. I’m getting another chance at childhood. I don’t need to win any awards at parenting, because parenting is not a competition. But I’m more content than I thought I’d be with my children at home, not just because my kids are smiling and happy but because I truly think I’ve finally found the balance of parenting and working. I’ve become even more child-like saying, “Sure! Let’s see if you can wrap mommy’s entire body like a mummy with toilet paper!” What I will remember from these times is my kid’s laughter, not his stupid assignments on raccoons, as he enjoys just being a child building forts with mommy. I now find myself saying things like, “Let’s see how many of the hundreds of stuffed animals can fit in here, with us!” Or, “Let’s take a shower in our bathing suits!” I get the chance to see my son enjoy unstructured childhood, and, selfishly, I get the chance to enjoy a “Second Chance Childhood.”
In no way would I have been sending my kid back to school anyway. I believe it is not in the best interest of everybody’s health. What have you learned about yourself, as a mom, during this? I’d love to hear your thoughts! But, now, I’m going to add, “Stay-at-home-mom” to my resume.
Tagged under: work-life balance,Family life,being grateful,slowing down time,enjoy every moment in life,life balance,school's out,working and family,career and family,stay-at-home parent,mom 101,covid-19