3 S.R. Johannes: Don't Should on Yourself - Wonder Mom!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Don't Should on Yourself - Wonder Mom!

My daughter started her back-to-school program today.

Easy right? I mean she is only 2 1/2 and officially it is really a mommy's day out. Laid back, fun and educational, right? I mean after all - she is just a "bumble bee"!

No sweat!

Unfortunately, I had no idea that "back to school" could be so serious. There is actually a list of supplies, meetings after meetings, a list of volunteer programs, teacher orientations, and mental preparation required. I think you are even required to sign your name in blood. My daughter is only 2 1/2 yet all of a sudden it seems like she is starting an Ivy League School.

My preparation for "mini-Harvard" was not a complete failure.

  • I did manage to be organized enough to make it to the teacher visit.
  • I did mange to register to be a volunteer Mom mystery reader and Christmas pageant organizer.
  • I raised my hand and asked a question at the orientation meeting.
  • I picked up my list of required school supplies on time.

I was on my way to being the "Super Mom" - right? Wrong!

  • Strike One - I did not call to get the early pre-list. Who knew?
  • Strike Two - I left at home this morning without the supplies I had neatly purchased and bagged. Therefore, I was forced to show up with empty hands excusing myself and promising on my second born child that I would bring the supplies when I picked my first born up.
  • Strike Three - My daughter's "Creative Movement" class "required uniform" was sold out! (Now why can't they just call it ballet like when I was a little girl. Suddenly, "creative movement" is more New Age?)

The "shoulds" begin cramming in the back of my mind ..."I should have been more organized. I should have done this earlier. I should have known better." The thoughts of my failure as a "back to school Mom" taint my dreams of "super momhood".

My intentions were good.

Last night, I went to Target and got all of the school supplies . Successfully, I marked through the list and chose each item carefully to ensure I had the best of each. (The target brand would not do - must be name brand diapers and cups. Nothing but the best!) Then, I searched for the items on my "required uniform" list. How exciting - my daughter's first ballet outfit.

To my horror, they were sold out! My perfect plan was toast. "Oh great, now my daughter will be the crazy kid with a whacked-out uniform and the unpreparing mom?" I beat myself up about the obvious psychological damage will this could have on my poor innocent child's development and trust. So I begin to do something (something that I told myself I would never do).

The Super Mom inside cheers, "I'll just get creative. I'll improvise." (Uh oh, anytime someone says they are "getting creative" or "improvising"- it's usually not a good thing.)

Wonder twin powers activate...Form of..."Creative Mom". (Am I showing my age yet?)

Why did I not just explain to the "Creative Movement" teacher that her pink duds were sold out and promise to dress my new ballerina appropriately the next time? Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a sucker for a challenge, no matter if it is an impossible feat or just a plain dumb one.

So - I begin my self-made Scavenger Hunt barreling through Target to find an outfit that resembles/mocks/or imitates a formal ballet uniform. I am looking for something that can be magically viewed as pink leotards, pink tights, and pink ballet slippers. Hmmmm, how about pink pajamas? pink fairy costume? pink bathing suit? I find myself staring at the marked-down pink fluffy bunny outfit - wishing so much I could sew. Then I could be "Crafty Mom".

Determined - I continue, there must be something I can "throw" together so no one will notice my lack of supermomhood education. (I know there is a school for that...somewhere...there just has to be.)

My fear of being the mom that is not organized or whose kid shows up in odd outfits swells inside me like the heat of our Georgia summer. The thought of not doing anything and shattering my "Super Mom" image was not an option. It does not matter that I usually end up leaving my cape at home or forgetting to wash it... I can do anything!

I find a new creative outfit - pink ruffled shorts, a pink cami (2 sizes too big), and pink tennis shoes with a silver sparkly strap. Feels ballerina-ish enough. I am sure no one will ever notice.

Am I kidding myself?

On the way to school this morning, I convince myself that this experience is a good lesson to begin teaching my daughter. "It's good to be unique, to be different, to raise up against our society's need to conform!" Yeah!

I slink in and out of the school's color-papered halls without meeting anyone's eye, hoping no will notice my empty hands or my interesting view of ballerinas. I escape unnoticed, "Whew, close call."

Later, I pick up my daughter prepared to distract any onlookers with my bag of name-brand supplies. How impressive!

I immediately explain myself to her teacher, "Sorry, I should have brought the supplies sooner."

I leapt after her ballet instructor, "I apologize, I should have gotten her uniform earlier."

I chase after the director, "Sorry, I should have signed up to volunteer more."

Then an interesting thing happens.

Her teacher smiles, "No problem - this is great!"

Her ballerina curtsies - "Don't be silly, this is great for her first day." (As a side note, to my shock only one kid was in actually in the "uniform" not counting mine of course decked out in the "semi-uniform." Wow I am more organized than I thought - at least I tried. My competitive need to win is subdued.)

Her director pats my shoulder, "Please, you have done so much for us already."

I slowly begin to realize how much of the "Super Mom" syndrome I actually force upon myself.

I twirl away - with my "unique" ballerina tucked close in my arms - thinking: "Don't should on yourself so much."

Maybe it's ok to just be "Wonder Mom."

Maybe "super" is just for overachievers :)


Anonymous said...

I think if you're a mom, the shoulda, woulda, coulda's grow exponentially. That said, I really "should" get back to my writing now...[in between feeding my daughter an early dinner before dance, getting my son from his late driver's ed class; cooking a second dinner for the rest of us and then going back for my daughter]

Anonymous said...

Oh! I know you said not to break up thoughts and post minutes later but I swear, this is a NEW thought. your last line about "super" moms got me thinking about a book title by a famous psychiatrist (i think it was Bruno Bettleheim--he wrote about the importance of fairy tales to children too) that went like this:
The GOOD ENOUGH Mom. And really, isn't that the most we can hope for?