**This week’s column was going to be about children’s extracurricular activities, but I have decided to push that topic to next time due to some bitch named Sandy. Hoping that all of my readers have come through the storm relatively unscathed and are resuming life as usual.**
Like many of you, I have spent the last few days stuck inside my house. Lucky for me, my neighborhood seems to be spared each time a natural disaster strikes (see: “snowicanes,” Irene, Sandy, etc.), even while power outages abound in the Greater Philadelphia area. So I’m coming to you live from my bedroom while my kids and their friends run around downstairs, stirring up a hurricane of their own.
I don’t know about you, but the first thing I think of when I hear of a storm of any kind headed our way is “Crap. What am I going to do with the kids while we’re stuck inside?” I am not Crafty Mom with a storeroom full of art supplies to set their little hands working on project after project. (Also? The unavoidable mess that makes my skin crawl.) Nor am I Imaginative Play Mom, ready and willing to sit on the floor and play Barbie and Buzz Lightyear go to the diner and order every piece of plastic food we have in the house. I wish that craftiness and imaginative play were in my Mommy Toolbox, but they are things that didn’t come easily to me as a kid (according to my cousin, I never had an imagination; rude, but true) and don’t come easily to me now. I sometimes look at other moms and feel bad about myself. Why am I the bad mom who would rather shove a device in my kids’ hands than play restaurant? The mom who would rather brave the weather to get my kids out of the house rather than finger-paint and play Play-Doh? (Again, this is about the mess; these two activities are unacceptable and should be outlawed in the U.S.) Should I have had some sort of genetic testing done to ensure that the imagination gene existed within my DNA? And if not, should I not have become a parent? Are my kids missing out on some fundamental tenets of childhood, which means they’ll be damaged goods because of my lack of creativity?
I blame these feelings—this guilt—partially, on Facebook and Pinterest. Because of sites like these, we are assaulted by images of what other families are doing on an hourly basis.
“Wow. The Smiths just went apple picking and made the most beautiful apple rhubarb pies to give to their neighbors.” (Can I use this opportunity to ask, what is rhubarb, anyway? I’ve never seen it live, have never tasted it, wouldn’t know what to do with it if it hit me in the face.)
“Gee, check out Tammy’s Kid’s Crafts board with all of the Thanksgiving-themed projects. I didn’t realize how many different kinds of turkeys could be made using hand- and footprints.”
“The Joneses just took an old box, decorated it like a rocket, and then mixed up something potentially lethal and illegal to make it actually fly. They are amazing parents. I have to keep up with them.”
Is there some kind of support group where parents can go to discuss their feelings of inadequacy brought on by social media? You know, a place where we can give each other high fives for small triumphs, like playing the part of Izzy in a Jake and The Neverland Pirates treasure hunt. Or coloring in the Toy Story coloring book and only getting a liiiiiittle bit annoyed that the three-year-old was hogging all of the good crayons. We could give each other affirmations like, I may not be Crafty Mom or Imaginative Play Mom, but I am …
… Baking Mom, with an arsenal of recipes and ingredients with which the kids can help me make bad-for-you-but-oh-so-tasty treats.
… Movie Mom, ready to dig into our treasure trove of Disney movies and/or order the latest On Demand flick and snuggle up on the couch. (Have you seen Tinkerbell and the Secret Wings? Uh-Mah-Zing!)
… Dance Party Mom, with Spotify playlists that go on for days and moves that blow the kids’ minds. “My Roger Rabbit” is a huge hit, and don’t get me started on my “Kid N’ Play Kickstep”!
… Experience Mom, prepared to throw the kids in the car, no matter the weather, and take them somewhere fun—the zoo, aquarium, farm, indoor mall playground (okay, that last ones not exactly an experience, but at least it’s not in the house)—and have an experience with them.
… The Wife of Your Father, who has a killer imagination and rocks in all the ways that I don’t.
… Or even just Mom. Imperfect. Always learning. Frequently frazzled. Constantly exhausted. But will love you fiercely and forever no matter what and will try my best to be exactly what you need me to be. Except if it comes to making art projects involving hands and feet dipped in paint and then shaped into all manner of things. Because I won’t be that mom. Ever. Sorry. It’s just not happening.
As of this moment, my husband and I are still unemployed. How has this happened? How is this our life? Am I THAT unemployable? Don’t people know that by hiring me they are virtually guaranteeing themselves boatloads of fun and laughs, and even a little bit of hard work to go along with it? Well, f* you, electronic abyss where my resumes seem to be piling up, unread.
I can’t wait for someone to come along and sweep me off of my unemployed feet anymore. I have put in to become a sub at my kids’ school (and have taken on the position as chair of the first-ever 5K supporting the PTO of said school. Holla!) and am working on trying to get my own thing off the ground. You know … Mohammed and the mountain, and one not coming so the other one has to … You get my drift. Time to be proactive, folks! Watch out!
Robin Raskin lives with her family in Bucks County. She blogs Thursdays on Be Well Philly. Catch up with the series here.