How I Am #RockingMotherhood

Mothers are closer to God the Creator
It’s been three weeks now since Anni tagged me to participate in the #RockingMotherhood challenge.  I hadn’t forgotten about the challenge–I was just thinking.
Because it IS a challenge, in a society that’s hell bent on making mothers feel that they are never quite good enough, to focus on the positive.  And it can be intimidating to toot one’s own horn, especially since I just did not long ago.  Plus I am a perfectionist, and am far more likely to be berating myself for my motherhood failures than congratulating myself on my wins.
So to get myself in the proper frame of mind, I decided to ask the people who ought to really know the answer to this question: my family.
My big kids all wanted time to think up a good answer.  I’m still waiting. But William’s answer to the question: “How am I a good mother?” was just what I needed:  “How AREN’T you a good mother?”
Seriously, y’all, William is my biggest cheerleader.
Lorelei said, “You feed me,” but that’s a pretty low bar for motherhood, I have to say.  She did add, “You look at my pictures,” and allowed that I could translate that into, “You support my artistic pursuits,” which I think I can work with.
John had two answers, and since they were the two things I’d already thought of myself, I considered it a sign that I was on the right track.   (I marked those with a *)
So here, without further ado, is the list of some ways I am #RockingMotherhood.

  • I am a good advocate for my children.*  William has an IEP.  I show up at meetings with an intimidating-looking binder full of research/ammunition and an attitude.  Yes, I am That Mom.  I don’t care if anyone at the school likes me and some of them probably don’t, but most of them understand and appreciate parents who educate themselves and are engaged in their children’s education.  I was not always as good at this as I am now, which leads me to my next point . . .
  • I learn from my mistakes.  I am not under some kind of illusion that I know everything about parenting.  In fact, as the years go on I really feel like I know less and less.  I don’t see anything wrong with apologizing when I don’t get it right, or with changing my approach from kid to kid or even from week to week.
  • I have (mostly) figured out the truly important aspects of parenting teenagers.* You can read more about that here.
  • I know how to provide the right kind of support for my adult kids.  I didn’t tell my big kids where to go to college.  I didn’t tell them what classes to take or what to major in.  I don’t pry into their personal affairs or tell them more than once that I disagree with a choice they have made. I DO give advice when requested, feed them when they are hungry, help them with adult things they haven’t learned about yet, and provide financial support when requested if I can.
  • I celebrate and support my kids’ interests, even when I don’t share them.  It’s easy for me to support Emily’s interests in literature and writing, since I love those things too.  It’s harder to remain enthralled by William’s fascination with all things Godzilla.  But I listen and learn.  I consider it a privilege that my kids want to share their passions with me.  And you know what?  You can develop an interest in anything that is loved by the people you love, if you try hard enough.
  • I don’t live a life that revolves around my children.  My kids know that my relationship with their father is important and that he and I will be spending time away from them frequently.  They know that I need time alone.  They know that I have interests and passions and they are expected to pay attention if I want to share about those just as I listen when they tell me about their passions.
  • I model faith, morals, values, and principles.  My kids have seen me go to Mass every Sunday and they’ve watched me march for causes I believe in.  We have conversations about politics, ethics, philosophy, and theology.  They know I am a person of strong opinions and they know what I think about things.  With this foundation, they are learning how to think (not WHAT to think), and the importance of having their own strong beliefs in these areas and standing up for them.
  • I love my children and they KNOW that I love them.  That may sound like another baseline requirement for motherhood–and I truly believe it’s a rare mother who doesn’t love her child–but the second part is just as important.  They have to know they are loved, just as they are and no matter what.  They have to be hugged and kissed and listened to and affirmed, and I am confident that I have done all those things, notwithstanding the impatience and the screaming and the inconsistent discipline and all the many other mistakes that I have made.

Here’s where I tag other bloggers to participate in this #RockingMotherhood challenge!
I am nominating:
Yanique of Kiddie Matters
Kim of This Ole Mom
Kim of Knock It Off Kim
Crystal of So-So Mom
The “rules” are simple:

  1. Thank the blogger who tagged you, and provide a link back to them;
  2. List 10 things (plus, or minus) you believe make you a good mother;
  3. Tag some other bloggers to participate in the challenge.

I picked these ladies because I KNOW they are rocking motherhood–but there’s no punishment for not participating in the challenge!  And if you weren’t tagged, feel free to tell me how you rock right here in the comments.
And here, by the way, is my actual MEDAL for being a good mother–part of a custom necklace that my sister gave me for Christmas, made from an antique French medal still given out to mothers of many kids today.
mother award necklace

My Weekend Escape

For about eight years now, at least when the stars aligned and finances permitted, I have received a weekend away from my family as a birthday gift.  The stars did not align at the right time this year (my birthday was in April), so I took this past weekend as my own.
Where do I go? you ask.  Well, in this case it’s not as much about the destination as it is about being alone.  But in any case I happen to think downtown Knoxville is an awesome destination.  And it means I don’t have to waste any of my time traveling, and if anything bad should happen (say for example I have to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance for a gall bladder attack, and that is not hypothetical), I am close to home.

Downtown Gay Street buildings seen from my hotel room
Downtown Gay Street buildings seen from my hotel room

I have spent a couple of these weekends at the former Hotel St. Oliver, but more often I have ended up (due to the vagaries of at the Crowne Plaza ($80/night this year–not bad for a three-star establishment).  The Crowne Plaza suits me for other reasons.  It’s a short walk to Market Square, and an even shorter walk to Immaculate Conception Church, which is where I reunite with my family at the end of my weekend.
Immaculate Conception Church from the window of my Crowne Plaza hotel room
Immaculate Conception Church from the window of my Crowne Plaza hotel room

I’m sure my idea of a good time wouldn’t suit everyone, but the fact is that there is nothing–NOTHING–I crave so much as being alone.  I used to think that was strange and was something new and different about me, because I remembered always wanting to be with my friends in high school and in college, but I realize now that I have always enjoyed my alone time.  When I was a little girl and a teenager I spent hours in my room, playing with my dolls and horses when I was younger, drawing and writing when I was older.  That kind of alone time doesn’t happen in a house with seven people, six of whom are expecting me to referee their battles, chauffeur them from place to place, feed them three meals a day, and do their laundry.  I am rarely if ever alone in the house–the closest thing is in the morning when John is gone and no one else is awake–and I am working then.  I try to get out of the house every week or two by myself but again I usually have to bring a mountain of work along.
So these weekends are a huge treat to me, and honestly I really need more like a week because I planned so many things I wanted to get done on my weekend that it was impossible.
Some years I’ve done a lot of walking around downtown, but I usually go in early May and it’s hot for walking midday now.  Sometimes I visit all the shops on Market Square, try out lots of restaurants, go to the library.  But what I wanted to do this time was write.
I checked in on Friday as soon as I could get away.  I didn’t leave the hotel that night.  I spent most of the evening attending to social media tasks (if you blog you will understand what I mean–it’s a job in itself and honestly one I wish I could devote more time to).  I took a break for dinner but just went down to the hotel dining room for the seafood buffet with a novel for company.  I stayed up too late because I didn’t want to miss a minute, and I set my alarm.
By the time I got ready and headed out for breakfast (around 9:30 a.m.) things were already in full swing on Market Square.
market square
What an amazing place, y’all.  As you might surmise, there used to be a big market house in the square; hence, the name.  But it was demolished years ago, and for years except for a few businesses it was pretty barren there–especially on the weekend.  But on Saturday mornings now there is a Farmer’s Market and vendors were everywhere.  Plus some kind of band that made it sound like New Orleans down there.  I’m telling you, I really did feel like I’d gone on a journey.  I walked past all that and went to Pete’s for breakfast.  That’s a venerable Knoxville institution where one can still get a full breakfast for (I kid you not) under seven dollars.
After breakfast I came back to my room and edited pictures and wrote blog posts and organized things until I was too hungry to wait any more and then I headed back to the Square where I went to Not Watsons for dinner.  I should have taken a picture of my food:  I had fried green tomatoes and deviled eggs but they were all fancy with unusual toppings, and I washed them down with a Bacon Bloody Mary and I bet you can just imagine how wonderful that was.  I want to go back there and just spend all my money ($7 each) on those.
Then I allowed myself to walk around for awhile, went into one of my favorite shops and bought myself a couple of little presents because why not? and stopped at Coffee and Chocolate to grab a cup of coffee and some treats for later (because it’s for my birthday so carbs are okay, right?).  I wish my hands hadn’t been so full because I would have liked to take some pictures for y’all as I was walking back to the hotel–pictures of things like the old man playing his white violin, and the kids running through the fountains, and the dreadlocked buskers, and dogs of all shapes and sizes, and rose petals festooning the ground.  When I got back to the hotel, I sat in the fancy lobby and enjoyed my coffee then it was right back upstairs to write some more, again staying up later than I should.
Sunday morning I just had time to eat at the hotel breakfast buffet before heading next door for Mass.  Maybe next year I should ask for a week?