Monday, December 8, 2008

Getting Engaged

I’m not sure if I’m a few weeks early, or 11 months late, but lately I’ve been carrying out a New Year’s resolution: to be a more patient, engaged mother. It actually started in mid-November on the Friday afternoon when I ditched work after our nanny called in sick. I found when I slowed down and committed my attention more fully to my children, we were all happier campers. It helps that John and Daphne recently had a leap in maturity level—now, when I take all three kids to a playground or pool by myself, I am not run ragged and my blood pressure doesn’t soar. And the three kids have become more simpatico recently, playing school or house together nicely.

Now that the holidays are upon us, I’ve taken my mommy-method a step further: I’m vowing to be less of a Scrooge this year. No more Sarah Bah-humbug Shea. Like yesterday: On my long run, I decided I’d bake a few batches of holiday cookies and invite one of Phoebe’s friends over to help decorate them with my gang. This evening, I’m taking the kids out to look at Christmas lights, and we have plans to watch Portland’s Christmas Ship Parade on the Willamette. I’ve already got our wreath hung, and the tree goes up soon. Opening up an Advent calendar window is an evening ritual. (But turns out I’m not going full-throttle enough: The other day in the van, I turned the radio to a station that plays only holiday songs. Phoebe piped up, “Why are you listening to this—you’re not festive.” Ha, ha, ho, ho!)

Overall, in my new mommy-mode, I find all of us are in better spirits and the kids have fewer flare-ups and meltdowns. I realize I’m not going to become Donna Reed overnight, but I’m aiming to be a phrase a British physician coined in 1953—a “good enough mother.” I don’t have to be perfect, just caring, alert, and reliable. I think that’s the best gift I can give to my kids—no bows or gift wrap required.



Kate said...

Sarah, I love that there are so many models for motherhood, including the sometimes impatient, non-Martha Stewart athlete mom model. Embrace what you have and love every moment - my mom was non-traditional for an Army wife and I wouldn't have had it any other way. Have fun with cookies and embrace the mess - one tip - color sugar before the cookies go in the oven is MUCH less messy than icing after!

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Here's a great book to read ... for all of us moms who struggle with extreme parenting and just want to be 'good enough'

It sounds like you've already read it though!

(Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juicebox)

Joanne said...

Ah yes and while not a 'mom' in the classical sense, I do see many of those traits in myself as a kindergarten teacher...This week and next, while we will skip some of our more formal and routine lessons, we will learn so much more about each other and take the time to enjoy drama, art and storytelling activities...I am a water coloring queen in my classroom...and I am going to enjoy it, most likely, even more than the kids!