PUBLISHED MONTHLY
EST. May 2000 (AD)

 
 

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Mediocre Mom

By Alison Tanney

I thought I had learned to live with being inadequate. According the the insurance council I need to gain five inches to be at my desired weight and I always bear a striking resemblance to the "before" photo of anything.

None of it really bothered me until last weekend after a visit with my sister Lorraine and her three kids. I realized I can add yet another failing to my list.

I'm a lousy parent.

Her children were delightful. Gracious, witty, respectful. They spent the weekend putting together a photo collage for me to take home.

My children ate my sister's birth control pills and tried to wash their hair with molasses.

When we were expecting our children, Lorraine wanted to be the best parent she could possible be. A supermom. She wanted her children to grow up to become exceptional human beings.

I wanted that too until I actually had them. Then I realized I'd be happy if they reached eighteen and still had all their limbs.

Watching her for three days I noticed some marked differences in our parenting techniques.

She believes in asking her children's opinion before making any decisions.

I refuse to even consider an opinion from someone who eats glue and calls the cat Daddy.

She listens to her children's jokes and laughs in all the right places.

I also listen but as I'm usually stirring or washing something, I usually miss the punchline. It also doesn't help that as raconteurs my kids would make great plumbers.

She has story hour, where once a week each child writes a story and reads it to the family.

I have something similar, only we call it TV.

They have a family counsel at the dining room table every Friday. Each member presents a grievance to the rest of the family. They then decide what to do. To counterbalance the negativity after they have presented the grievance, they must compliment a family member on a task well performed or on a personality trait.

We try to get through dinner without someone choking to death on a lentil.

She looks forward to going to parent teacher conferences. She loves to be involved in her children's schooling and interacts with her children's teachers on a regular basis.

I interact with my children's teachers too but usually it involves me rushing to the school with an apology and my checkbook.

She loves to bring her children to social functions. They mix well with adults and children alike but are usually seen helping an elderly person.

I also bring my children to functions but I don't admit they're mine until it's absolutely necessary. They are usually seen trying to find gum under the chairs.

Her children want to be respectively a lawyer, a doctor and a archeologist when they grow up.

Mine want to be a rodeo clown, garbage man and a gravedigger.

For Halloween my sister starts planning their costumes in September. They spend delightful evenings sewing and laughing and she makes caramel apples to hand out to the trick or treaters.

My children have gone as ghosts since they were born and I hand out change.

I realized that if I wanted to be a terrific parent, I would have to make some changes so I called a family counsel but it ended up with cries of "he's touching me" and snickering. (This was my husband's contribution). The story hour went much the same way only this time everyone was snickering including my two-year old.

I tried to listen to my children's jokes, but still didn't laugh at all the right places.

I realize now that the damage has been done, I can't unring the bell.

I'm just going to have to muddle through and try to keep their little bodies intact . My long term goal is replace the college fund with a therapy fund and my short term goal is to get little Frankie's head out of the fishbowl.

It's all I can do.