A mom’s job is to make a child feel loved and joyful. It’s an idea still brewing in my head and heart…and may it continue to do so, as my life as a mom will never end now that I have my own kids. I’ve been a surrogate parent for years in addition to being an active, involved aunt, academic coach, and teacher. At no time do I ever remember a criterion of my performance as a teacher being that my students feel loved and joyful. It may have been an implicit goal – something that I wanted and worked toward – but never was it something explicitly stated in a job description.
I do not intend to transform mothering into a “job,” no matter how much it might feel like it when we are juggling schedules, interviewing babysitters, and darting off to the grocery store to get dinner on the table by six. There are indeed tasks that any mother (and father) must tackle, just like an employee in a business or a teacher in a school. Similarly, many teachers don’t consider teaching “a job” either; to many seasoned and novice teachers alike, teaching is a vocation, a calling of sorts. Most educators want to interact with kids in a loving, supportive way. They want to impart some wisdom. They want to share something they’ve learned in life, whether that is a skill set and/or a new way of looking at the world.
Lisa Belkin wrote a column about a year ago in the New York Times describing a new trend in the world of mothering. It’s now “cool” to be a bad parent. In opposition to the perfect helicopter moms on guard to swoop down and solve any of their kids’ problems, the now “bad mommy” shares her doubts and admits her shortcomings. Belkin lists popular Mommy blogs and memoirs that serve as confessionals, offering a peak into the “real life” of moms who not only admit that parenting is hard, but share details of their transgressions. These bloggers gain notoriety – or at least a following – by celebrating what they are not doing correctly (e.g. using the “right” diapers). Similarly, I notice many friends joking about what they are doing “wrong.” I don’t consider it “cool,” though, that these moms are so stressed out that they are putting holes in the wall from slamming doors (the door knob into the drywall!). It’s just the way it is.
No story is given an honor of “cool” on its own. Readers and listeners participate in the conversations, offering laughter and praise, a neutral space of acceptance, or blatant criticism. In our book, at SMAA, it’s “cool” to accept…and to strive for improvement. It’s also “cool” to be a mom who works toward making her child feel loved and joyful. What that really means and looks like is up to you….and to the listeners of your tales.