Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Good Mom

I have an article due tomorrow for which I have notes jotted down but nothing typed yet. (Don't tell Mr. Johnson at the Guard.) But the main hurdle is always What To Write About, so I'm on the right road at least, if still 4 hours from my destination.

I want to write something on the theme of Being A Good Mom.

This came about because this past week I went to one of Matt's church-league games because I was starting to feel like I am a very bad mom for not going to his games. The truth is I was turned off of basketball forever in high school P.E., where I played with girls who were so good they had taken our tiny school to the state tournament, coached by the _____(adjective meaning that she was nice if you were an athlete and she ignored you otherwise)_____ Miss Jensen. There were many many times where I ran myself ragged out on the court and never touched the ball the entire time. Maybe this is how normal basketball is played but I found it very discouraging.

Our family rule has been that you can pursue organized sports once you can drive, which I'm sure the kids will bring up in therapy someday, since their friends play from the time they can stand up straight. But oh well. Is a stressed-out running-ragged mom a good mom? Didn't think so. But I still agonize on an ongoing basis about this decision.

Matt plays church league, and has never made a big deal out of whether or not we watch him. So I seldom do, but this was weighing on my conscience, mostly because my SIL Bonnie, mom of the famous Justin Smucker, Harrisburg Eagles Star, goes to all her kids' games and has for years.

So the other night I girded my loins and put lots of children in the car and went to Matt's game. I realized I knew enough to yell something like YES!! when a guy I knew made a basket. Meanwhile Bonnie sat behind me yelling all kinds of things like "DEfense!!" "Wait til it's open!!" "Let 'im foul you!" and, again, "DEfense!"

I was impressed. What would it be like to understand the game enough to know what to yell? I mean, it was all I could do to sort-of follow things, and when they suddenly started shooting for the other basket it took me a bit to figure out what was going on. I guess they switch baskets halfway through the game.

I kept getting distracted by the physical realities of the game. A bunch of sweaty guys running around is just a really physical exhibition, especially if they give you these stunning views of their hairy armpits. I mean, that's just a bit much for me.

Wait, I was going to talk about being a good mom. So yeah, I really felt like I was a bad mom, and Bonnie was a good one, they way she gets into this and I don't.

So I'm wondering, what does it take, seriously, in the grand scheme of things, in a nutshell, to be a good mom?

I was very gratified by Ben's statement after the game:

Quote of the Day:
"Mom, I just want you to know that when I play basketball you won't have to feel like you're a bad mom if you don't come to my games."

and he added:
"Now it does matter to me if you come to my choir concerts or not."
(Well, that's no problem. I wouldn't miss his concerts for anything.)
And this evening after church, our young friend Konrad told me, completely randomly,
"I just want to tell you that you're a good mom."
Wow, bless him. And he had no idea that I was going to write on that very subject.
And my SIL Lois had this to say:
"You're a classic American mom, filled with guilt that you haven't done enough for your children."


  1. I like your rule about having to be able to drive to participate. I've been dreading having to haul my kids around. I'm thinking that they can do anything that only meets once/week. Like my daughter has ballet one night a week and one recital/year.

    I don't think that makes you a bad mom. It makes you a wise mom.

  2. Like the quote about the "classic American mom." How true!

    I heard some authority saying the other day that if your children are so busy with activities that all you have time to feed them is fast food, your arguments about "healthy activities" are pretty much useless. So now every time we are running around between soccer (her) and little league (him) and I'm tempted to stop by McDonald's for some sustenance, the immense guilt usually sends me home for pb&j instead.

    I have friends who proudly declare that one of their children is involved in 3 activities at any given's immense pressure, this keeping up with the Joneses. I feel like an old-time rebel for declaring activity-free summers and Christmas holidays and letting my kids run around the neighborhood, or - gasp - get BORED at home!

  3. Just so you know, my daughter informed me after another one of her soccer games, wherein I'd screamed myself hoarse, that she never listens to me anyway. The kids only listen for the coach & judging by the coaches's comments he doesn't do much better than the rest of us. :)

  4. Of course you're a good mom!

  5. If you have to go to the games to be a good mom, I'm about 1/10th of the way there. If you have to understand the game, I'll NEVER make a good mom! Pauline