Saturday, July 25, 2009


2 a: lack of success
3 a: a falling short : deficiency

Parenting is so hard. If you're a parent, this is no news to you. Part of what I find difficult in parenting is the constant change, the non-stop fluctuation. Highs are followed so closely by lows. Earlier this week, J complimented me on the way I had handled a situation with A by saying, "You don't have a job right now, but staying home with our daughters is really a job. You did a handled that well." But yesterday I ended the day feeling frustrated, disappointed and defeated. Here's why:

For several years, my daughters and I have done a Fun Jar in the summer. It started the first summer I was a stay-at-home mom and it was as much a way to keep me sane as to help them have fun. The basic premise is that we write down all of the fun things we want to do during the summer and put them in a jar. Weekly, we choose something and share our plans with friends. In years past, my daughters loved the Fun Jar. They were excited to see which activity would come next. They loved seeing who would join us at the events. They got to visit new parks and activities around Nashville.

This year has been another story. We're more than three quarters of the way through our summer and I feel like I've had to cajole, convince or nearly force A & B to do Fun Jar activities. Yesterday, we were scheduled to go to a place that use to be one of their favorite spots in Nashville. Yet when I told them, they both (separately) said, "I don't want to get wet." or "I wish we could go to a pool instead." We went anyway. B and K both brought friends along and while it went OK, A & B were unenthusiastic. By the end of the day, I felt emotionally bruised and ready to hide in my bed.

I know that A & B are growing up. I've tried to have our activities reflect that. Yet my overwhelming impression of this summer is their dissatisfaction. With the Fun Jar, with each other, with me.

I feel like I've failed them and I'm puzzled, hurt and completely lacking in confidence.

One of the difficult things about being an introspective person is that an event like yesterday's makes my mind wander far into the future. I wonder who my daughters are becoming and whether they are headed in the right direction. I don't want them to think summers are for lounging at a pool to work on their tan. I want them to seize the opportunities they have, even if they are not what they would choose. I want them to have curious minds that seek activity, not indolence.

Now I'm faced with figuring out why my daughters are unsatisfied and deciding how much of that is my responsibility versus theirs. For someone who detests and fears confrontation, I sense that the new parenting phase we are entering will test me in ways I never wanted to be tested. Because right now, I need to talk, engage and communicate when every part of me just wants to escape (preferably into a book)...


Chocolate, Vanilla and Caramel said...

Hmmm...this is really interesting. I'm assuming that the girls were the ones who came up with the activities and events in the Fun Jar, so it's interesting that now they don't want to go.

I have found within the past 6 months, my daughter doesn't want to do some of the weekly activities that she has always loved and enjoyed (library story time, story/song time at the mall, etc.) It was really surprising to me the first time she said, "I don't really want to go, Mom" when we were about to head off to library story time. This was something she normally adored, since one of her friends was usually there too. I talked about it with her, and she said she just didn't want to go any more. I think it simply wasn't interesting to her any more.

So we don't go any more. We replaced it with a couple of different activities.

I think as our children grow, there are going to be times that we have to let go of things that perhaps WE enjoyed (I love library storytime!), but then there are also times that for the sake of other family members (for instance, her 2.5 year old little brother) she may have to go along with something that's not too fun.

But I hear you about wanting your kids to grab opportunities and enjoy a variety of things.

Parenting is not easy! It seems that we are always having to adjust!!

Anonymous said...

As the mother of a teenage daughter, I find that the older she gets, the more fickle she is. She is apt to change her mind at the drop of a hat. Also, she seems to enjoy her alone time more and doesn't really want to spend a lot of time with the family. Although when forced to do so or forced to go on the family vacations, she has a wonderful time. This is a phase that is slowly passing as she grows up. Hang in there.