Not So Qualified

*In honor of my one year blog-a-versary, I decided to share some vintage (not so) Special material.  This was my first official post of the blog.  Maybe my new readers will enjoy it, as they surely haven’t gone back this far into the archives.  And if you’ve already read it, maybe it can make you smile again!  Thanks to all my faithful readers!

 

The Grandmother occasionally reads little tidbits out of the newspaper to me.  The other day is was a piece about some woman who had been arrested for doing some ghastly thing to her own child. The Grandmother made the comment, “People should have to take a test to make sure they’re qualified to be a parent!”

A few days after that, upon hearing that I was homeschooling, the comment was made to me, “Oh, I don’t know if I’m qualified to teach my own child.”

That got me thinking…….

Qualified. Webster defines this as “fit; competent.” That got me thinking even more–am I qualified to be a parent? Consider these following points about yours truly.

  • I once searched for almost forty minutes for my cell phone. My son, upon realizing what I was looking for, told me to call it and listen for the ring. I did, and I heard it ringing……..from inside my pocket.
  • I have served, as the main course of a meal other than breakfast, Lucky Charms.
  • I have told my children to shut up.
  • I have lied to my children because a) I wanted them to do something they didn’t want to do, b) I didn’t want them to do something they wanted to do, or c) simply to get them to be quiet and leave me alone for a few minutes.
  • I have let the television babysit my children.
  • I have a drill sergeant’s philosophy about shouting–I never shout, I just speak in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear.

I will not even get into the background stuff before my children were born. This is a blog after all, not a confessional.

Anyway, would I qualify? Let’s just say it’s a good thing there isn’t a test. The stuff back there is just the tip of the iceberg. I have a list of faults a mile long. Yet, somehow, I have been entrusted with not one, but two little people to raise into functioning adults. Better still–one of them is a special needs child who is dependent on me for everything.  Needless to say, it makes me nervous.

It doesn’t help when I am confronted with the uber-mommy. You know the ones I’m talking about. Where do these women come from? They always have their hair fixed and their make-up on, and they are always dressed in cute little outfits that have those sweaters with no sleeves or whatever.  They craft and scrapbook and they fix three nutritious meals for their families every day. I expect they churn their own butter.

Meanwhile, I’m home pouring Lucky Charms into a bowl and yelling at my kids. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? And yet…..my kids seem pretty happy and well-adjusted.  We’re a pretty close family, and there really isn’t a whole lot of drama here.  I don’t seem to embarrass them too much yet.  I think the key might be love. More than that, I think the key might be loving your children more than you love yourself.  That is where a lot of people fall short.

I’m almost absolutely certain that I wouldn’t officially be called fit or competent to raise another human from birth into adulthood, but I’m struggling along every day and doing the best I can. It’s worked out okay for me so far.  I’d love to share with you some of my success stories, but right now I can’t. I’ve got to go look for my cell phone.


 

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34 thoughts on “Not So Qualified

  1. I think this is great. And if it matters, my opinion is that we do not have to test for parenting a child and being qualified remains a mystery to death. I would rather think of it as one of those big races…Nascar, perhaps, where it is not being qualified but yet qualifying for each race. Each step our kids take, each lesson learned, and each big mistake made….we are qualifying. It is a neverending race in the life cycle of raising our kids.
    And I very much think your kids are happy, not because of money, or education, or being QUALIFIED. They are happy because they are loved.

  2. I think you qualify based on “loving your kids more than you love yourself.” I’ve done all those things on your list… and then some. Madison still remembers the time we were playing outside in the backyard one night and she absolutely didn’t want to come inside and get ready for bed. Coincidentally, a helicopter was flying overhead and getting closer and closer. I told her it was the Bedtime Police and that if they caught us outside we were sure to get grounded. So, she went inside and got ready for bed. We all do what we gotta do sometimes. 🙂

  3. Hello Janice! I am Ben’s wife, Becky. He told me about your witty way with words, and I just HAD to read your blog. I love it! As a new mom, it’s nice to hear that going on a 45-minute manhunt for the cell phone is not a sign of impending insanity. Thanks for sharing and making me feel less crazy. Great work! I look forward to reading more.

    • Thanks so much to everyone for checking it out! Be sure to subscribe and I’ll do my best to keep the thoughts coming!

  4. I don’t know if i will be able to read very often-i will be busy looking for MY cell phone in my pocket, lying to my children and feeding them pancakes for dinner (again). I think you’re pretty lame actually-you’ve got to come up with better flaws than that to be unqualified. I can do all those in my sleep! 😉

  5. That was very well written. I enjoyed reading it. I think that we can all relate to it. Thank you for letting us fellow moms know that we are not alone. And to think, our parents did the same thing to us. We were lied to so that we would do what they wanted us to, shouted at when they got aggravated with us or weren’t feeling well, and I am sure that the list goes on and on. It seems that we turned out ok. When a child grows up the most important thing that they will remember is if they were loved and happy.

  6. I once searched fifteen minutes for a missing pair of sunglasses—that were on my head the whole time—and I didn’t even have any children to care for, so imagine how much more “together” you have it than most of us crazies. Really love the start to the blog! And I was intrigued to learn you homeschool your children. My wife and I would love to chat about your feelings/experiences with that endeavor sometime. Even though we are both employed in education (Becky teaches at a middle school), we are leaning towards the same or a similar educational approach. There are so many negatives to public education these days that go WAY beyond kids making fun of other kids because of the shoes they wear (Hey, I’m not harboring any ill feelings towards my peers or Mr. Whitt for the hell I caught over those seventh-grade moccasins I wore at Nuttall 🙂 ). Let me know if you guys attend the battle of Lewisburg and maybe we can all get up. Again, glad to see the blog up and running.

    • Thanks so much to all of you! Ben–we’ll chat about homeschooling any time you’d like. Beware–I could and would talk your ear off! Thanks again to everyone, and stay tuned!

  7. Janice: What can I say? You leave me with a stirring of emotions….from wiping my eyes due to hysterical bouts of laughter to wiping my eyes due to a relieved feeling of not being alone out there in wonderful (and often turbulent) world of parenthood. I, too, have often wondered if I am truly fit to be a parent, and then I am blessed with another child, so I’d like to think that maybe someone, somewhere thinks I do a pretty good job! (or maybe it’s my lack of sexual education) 😉 Either way, reading this tidbit has made my day. Thanks for your ability to “tell it like it is” while being your down to earth self.

  8. I just want to say, you are like your Grandmother, (my mom), in so, so many ways. She too, like you, put everybody before herself, most of all us kids. I was the baby, and probably got treated a lot better than the rest, but times were hard growing up. But anytime of any day that I think back on my childhood, I smile, as will your kids. You are the best Mommy in the world, and I’m so, so proud of everything you do, jury still out on that last tatoo! Just kidding. You are awesome, and I am so proud you allow me to call you my daughter! I love you, and keep on writing. I will have to buy some more kleenex, but thats ok.

  9. Love it, Janice. I think one of the biggest issues we face as mothers is the contrived competition that has been set up to sell products, elect politicians, and ease the insecurities of our supposed peers. I can testify that you are a great mother. And lest you fall for that voice in the back of your mind that says “in spite of me” instead of “because of me”, remember us who know better.

  10. We call them uber-mommies too! How awesome! “Churning their own butter”..ha!
    Thank you, thank you for your honesty. More moms need to do this – just own our stuff, the good, the bad and the in-between. You’re a breath of fresh air.

  11. I can’t stand the uber-mommies. I deal with so many of them at my kids’ school and I don’t understand how they do what they do. Or why sometimes because a lot of the time it’s way more than is necessary. My kids have been known to eat a bowl of Lucky Charms, and I’ll admit I yell a little too much.

  12. I love this post! Of course you’d pass the test. I’m guessing a good parenting test would find out if you are balanced and can love your child and not if you churn your own butter. It sounds like you’re able to laugh at yourself and it’s probably pretty fun around your house.

    And, I can also relate to the cell phone thing. ONe of my son’s first full sentences (and this is true) was “where’s my phone” because he heard it so often…

  13. Those people churning their own butter? You KNOW behind closed doors freaky stuff is going on like their swingers or something. I think the good parents – the qualified ones – are the ones who make mistakes – often – and learn from them and who give cereal for breakfast because it’s easy and it’s so super fun!!! And if we yell occasionally it’s because there’s too much noise to be heard or it’s just shocking enough to get their squirrely brains to acknowledge us.

    We rule.
    Great post.

  14. Happy blog-versary!

    The best parents are the ones that admit they are not the best parents… even 8-0 in front of their children. Perfect is boring – and I imagine that churning butter is too.

  15. Yes, the key is love! My list is most certainly as long as yours (if not longer) and somehow every morning they all wake up happy and actually act like they love me, like the night erased all memory of my yelling and such. I have to go now, I can’t find my keys, the remote, the baby monitor, my wallet and apparently my brain.

  16. I laughed out loud because I might just be your evil twin. All those things you describe? They are the whole basis of my blog! Ha! I enjoyed this post so much and I needed the giggle today so thank you!

  17. Dude. I’m so with you on cereal (sugary) for meals other than breakfast. And the drill sergeant voice, television watching, and on and on. It is absolutely the love that matters. Just the fact that you homeschool clearly shows your devotion and attention to your children. You pass!! With flying colors.

  18. did you know that I have the foresight to teach my kids not to eat eggo waffles with syrup?? That way a) I never have to clean up the sticky stuff for years after its consumption and b) so when we are as usual late, I’d have something quick for them to eat in the car. I’m in part terrified and amazed with my mothering… as long as there is love and intentional relating there… the rest, well, makes for good life stories for them 🙂

  19. The Beatles were right, “All You Need Is Love.” Do you know how much effort goes into looking perfect? Effort that takes you away from looking for your cell phone. 🙂
    But seriously, this is a lovely parenting piece and a GREAT first blog post. Happy Blog-a-versary. Ellen

  20. Everyone has flaws. Everyone. I think you hit the nail on the head – loving your child more than yourself is the key. Great post.

  21. This is great! I spent fifteen minutes walking around the house muttering to myself and looking for my cell phone when my sixteen month old walked up and handed it to me, shook his head (no joke, really shook his head) and walked off. Which one of us is the parent again? Thanks for this…

  22. Very interesting post. I LOL reading about your qualified parenting mishaps (especially the phone one!) My only other comments would be that I truly believe that everyone struggles… even the uber-mommy. I think that we as individuals just recognize and prioritize different things as “struggling.” I also think that loving your children is important, but loving yourself is even more important.

    Thanks for sharing!

  23. Great post to make others say: Me too! For me, it’s not the phone in my pocket, it’s the sunglasses on my head or the keys in my hand. Yes, IN my HAND. Lost cause, I am.

  24. As someone who enjoys Lucky Charms any time of day or night, I know what you mean. Those women with the sleeveless sweaters aren’t perfect, though they may appear that way. From my experience they are usually the most broken.

    Great post. Happy Blog-aversary!

  25. Happy Blog-oversary!
    Who’s setting up the criteria? Who will be judging?
    Ah, those perfect parents you have written about are all fakes, an illusion. We’re all dealing with something!

  26. The cell phone incident made me laugh out loud, also. I can totally see myself doing that and if I had a reliable memory not clouded by working motherhood perhaps I could admit to doing the same thing as well.

    I think your most excellent post brings up my suspicion that pop psychology has done a number on us as mothers, making us think we and our “mother mishaps” are way more influential in an omnipotent sort of way than they actually are. It is pretty hard and I would even suggest impossible for the average, caring mother to damage her child’s core personality. We may inadvertently (and sometimes intentionally because of our own frustration, stress and personal issues) inflict some superficial wounds, but those things heal or maybe even give character, but I don’t think they are fatal.

    Nevertheless, I suffer from the same insecurities as you so aptly described and have also done the same types of things. For example, just the other morning in my usual chaotic manner, after dropping the kids off at school and getting to work 30 minutes late, I checked my email. There was a link to a health article, so I opened it and it immediately asked: Would you feed your kids Ho Hos and Oreo ice-cream for breakfast? To which I replied (apparently out loud but I thought it was in my head), “Hell, no!”

    Then I read further: Because if you give your kids a sugary cereal such as Fruit Loops for breakfast then it is no different than giving them a bowl full of candy. You might as well make an appointment with the local pediatric diabetes nurse RIGHT NOW!

    I thought, “That’s just terrible, what kind of parent gives their kids Fruit Loops for breakfast? Don’t people stay informed these days???…but then I remembered, oh yeah, I’M that kind of parent – I had JUST given my 5-year-old daughter Fruit Loops for breakfast that very morning only, what, an hour before reading this?

    I threw the Fruit Loops out later that afternoon when I got home, much to my daughter’s dismay. I was torn between keeping her happy and upholding my parental responsibility to at least attempt to keep her healthy. Good grief – the decisions we have to make. 😉

  27. followed you here from your old fogie post on Aiming Low that I LOVED.

    It’s a great thrill to meet some new writers that make me laugh.

    Nice to meet you, I like your style of writing: clever, and relatable.

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