Ed Koch has been on my mind lately.
Might sound strange, if you know who he is. But I remember him only for one reason. He was the former mayor of New York who was famous for asking his constituents: “How am I doing?”
And these days, that’s a question I’ve been asking of myself, wondering just how well I’m doing as a mother. Of course my children are alive and thriving. They are well-fed and happy most of the time, and not really in want of anything. But there have been days (more of late) when I have been mad at myself for not doing enough. For falling short. For not being focused enough on them.
It may all be unfounded. Usually my insecurities are.
I also realize that most of the time, it’s my own unrealistic expectations that get in the way of feeling secure in my abilities. Like the day last month when L. casually mentioned on the car ride home from school that it was a good thing they celebrated two birthdays in class that day, because he didn’t bring a snack to school. I nearly spun around in my seat while driving.
What do you mean you didn’t have a snack, did you have lunch, oh, no, don’t tell me we forgot to pack your lunch, what do they do if you come to school with no snack or lunch?
Just as quickly as I asked these run-on questions, he answered that it was no big deal. Kids forget their lunches and snacks all the time. They have spares on hand.
So that means I’m not the worst mother ever. Parents forget more frequently than I do? *Begin breathing again*
This little mix-up — where I thought my husband packed his lunch and vice versa — and a few others lately — where the kids have been pout-ier than usual — have made me second-guess that I’m doing as good of a mothering job as I could be.
Then I remind myself that these things obviously bother me more than them. Even still, I needed to make sure. And so I created my first annual mother’s performance review. Kind of like the one I get at work every winter but with a little less emphasis on technicalities (because I don’t think they really care if I wash my hands) and with more focus on the touchy feely (since my supervisor doesn’t give me any extra points for my superior skills in reading bedtime stories).
And with Mother’s Day coming up in less than a week, it seemed like a good time for my kids to tell me how I measure up. On a scale of 1-100, these are the grades my two children gave me this year in ten job responsibilities that matter most to them:
MOTHER’S REPORT CARD
- Kisses and Hugs 92
Cooking and Baking 94
Sports 70 (I cheer really good though.)
Pretend 89 (Although I do still have room for improvement in my development of princess plots)
Playdates 87 (S. is satisfied, L. says I could improve on the frequency)
Board games 97 (I do like Scrabble.)
Bedtime Stories 93
Rough-housing 0 (Guess it’s up to Daddy to pick up my slack.)
Worrying/Safety 100 (This makes me proud; all those “wash your hands” and “be careful” warnings have penetrated their brains!)
Homework help 81 (Is it wrong of me to do dishes at the same time, since he does well enough on his own not to merit too much help?)
OVERALL AVERAGE 80.3
Pretty respectable (although I did much better in high school.) Maybe rough-housing shouldn’t even be in my job description — I would have been a whole lot closer to 90 if not.
In any case, I didn’t get any comments about being the worst mom ever and certainly no one told me “You’re fired!” So I guess that means I should keep doing what I’m doing — maybe using less time to worry and more time to, oh, I don’t know, pretend more?
Now it’s your turn. Go ahead and ask your kids to grade you if you dare and let me know what your score is.
Just one last thing though before you go into the boss’ office for your mommy review. You know how trucks have that “How am I driving?” sticker? Do you think anyone ever calls to evaluate them?
Final grades are due by Friday at 5. In the meantime, get inspired by Amanda’s reflections on motherhood — which are much more balanced than mine, that’s for sure.