9.15.2009

The One About Mothering

I know a lot of mothers. Muthas too, but that's another column. And I do enjoy hearing how we all approach our jobs. I get ideas from them. And others, not so much. The other day I was talking to a mother of three who was telling me all the responsibilities she has given her daughter who is four, same age as Anna Grace. Her child is responsible for keeping her dance clothes in her dance bag. And she had played dress up the day before and had neglected to put the dance clothes back. Her mom didn't know that. She gets to school with an empty dance bag. Empty except for her shoes. And she had to tell her dance teacher why she was inappropriately dressed and find out the consequences (she was allowed to participate). Well, her mom, who is a good friend, dressed me down for not giving my girls enough responsibilities. I tried to explain to her that my mom did most everything for me and I was perfection itself. I received full-frontal eye roll for that remark.

Another friend of the girls was over and informed them that their rooms were a mess (the rest of the house wasn't by the way, just their rooms). She then started to clean up. Unfortunately, she did not finish the job. Her mom had her apologize to me for saying the rooms were messy. Which I understand. But she was dead on. You see the laundry was done, but I had not had the time to hang up all their clothes and the girls and taken the neat pile of clothes and covered every inch of the floor with their clean clothes. Jenna had tossed some Cheese Puffs on top just to decorate. Yes, it was a total mess.

Now I do know some mothers who use all sorts of questionable language in front of their children. And I'm sure the language I use may be questioned by others. Now I don't go dropping the F bomb. But my girls do say "that's ridiculous" all the time. Apparently it's one of my catch phrases.

I do let them wear make up, but I'm only talking lip gloss. And they've been wearing it since the day they were born. They started slow, with Vaseline, which is a most excellent lip gloss stand in if you ask me. I still use it as one. They're not all tarted up with mascara and eyeliner for daycare. Yet. No, that's just for dance recitals. And even then I don't think they're tarted up. Then it's just glam.

They are given things to do. And usually Anna Grace responds by moving very, very slowly. Jenna responds by saying "I want you to do that." Granted, that's very clever on both their parts. And while I appreciate their cleverness, I only let that fly for so long. Until they are supporting me with my own entourage, oh, I already have that, but my point being, until they are learning to be self-sufficient, I am going to insist that they learn how to do things. Actual things. For real.

They already know how to accessorize. And that's a serious skill. They're learning how to dance. Again, important. I'm teaching them to notice and remember details. They can already crack eggs. Not just break them randomly. And they know that milk goes bad in the night. And chocolate makes dogs sick. In my list of motherly things to teach, Anna Grace and Jenna have learned manners, they've learned that timing really makes the joke, the joys of a snuggly blanket, how to rock out to ZZ Top and the Rolling Stones, and that the best part of the day is when the three of us lay in bed together and talk about our day. They've also learned to always take off their shoes when they get weighed, that garlic salt and Parmesan cheese on popcorn makes a great Saturday morning breakfast, and that mommy's friends give them anything they want. Or men do. Or that mommy's friends are all men with stores. Anyway they look at it, it's all good. We're going to work on the cleaning part of the regimen. But as I have pointed out before, it's not one of my strong points. As a matter of fact, today the cleaning lady comes to my house today. See, everyone needs a job. And I'm willing to pay for a service that I do not excel at. It's a win-win. I'm teaching the girls that too. You're not good at. You hate it. You pay someone who is better at it than you are to do it for you. This does not apply to college term papers however. Just things like fixing the car and cleaning the house and mowing the yard. Which reminds me, I have to clean the house before she gets here.