My mommy cooks. My mommy cleans. My mommy loves me.

June 8, 2009

in no manual for parenting

It is almost a month since Mother’s Day and therefore I figure it is safe to ruminate out loud what I thought when I saw these loving and lovable pictures drawn by my 6 year old, with lots of love, without the risk of being accused as mean-spirited, bitter, spoiled, jaded, or worse, unfit-to-be-a-mother…

Turned out that my 6 year-old was more excited about Mother’s Day than I was. The weeks leading to Mother’s Day they had made so many arts and crafts projects at school to celebrate this day, and he was instructed to keep all these projects a secret until THE day so he could surprise me. Bless his heart. I am surprised that he did not burst from all the secrecy, and the trouble of keeping a secret from your mother when you are only 6 years old.

We had gone to the store in April when he decided that he needed to get me a Mother’s Day present. He was rather upset since he couldn’t figure out a way of getting anything without my knowing it.

He burst into tears when I saw the bag of chocolate he’s holding.

“You are not supposed to see this.”

“What? I don’t know what you’re talking about…”

“This! This is your Mother’s Day present. Now Mother’s Day is ruined! And it is all YOUR fault!”

“Honey. How about this? Mommy will pay for it and then you can hide it and I promise I will forget about it.”

“No, it won’t work!”

It took me an hour to calm him down, to convince him that yes indeed, I would erase the memory of this exchange from my brain.

When he proudly presented me with the book that he made at school, a book comprised of “Things my mommy does, and therefore I love my mommy” vignettes, I was really moved. Really, I was. He was beaming with pride, and naturally, I was beaming with pride too.

But later, it did give me pause to think my role as a mother. How I see myself and how I am perceived by my children, others, the world.

1. After 20+ years of education, this is what I am boiled down to: cooking and cleaning.

2. My job sucks, at least in my child’s eyes. If I were a hod dog vendor, or a street musician, it would probably be easier for him to draw “What my mommy does at work.” Truth be told, and in all fairness, he has attempted many times to understand what I do at work.

“So you work on the computer… But what do you MAKE?”

A conversation with him about my job always results in days of self-doubt in me…

3. Perhaps in all fairness, cleaning and cooking could be what he sees me do all the time. Is it telling that he did not draw “My mommy does the laundry” since our floor is constantly covered with laundered clothes transported straight from the dryer? And bless his heart that he considers grilled cheese and mac&cheese straight from a box cooking. I guess it is true that what you don’t know will not hurt you…

4. On the other hand, what if this is his ideal of a mother? A mom that cooks and cleans, while wearing an apron with a BIG smile on her face. So happy. So content. Perhaps this is a mother that he yearns for and not the harried, reluctant one he’s stuck with? Staring at the big smile in these drawings, I somehow feel ashamed. Guilty.

5. This is the conclusion I am most reluctant to draw; it took me a whole month to admit to myself: Maybe, just maybe, I am not spending enough quality time with my children. None of the pictures showed me doing things with him.

If I had made more efforts in doing arts and crafts, if I were more willing in playing Go Fish, if I had offered to go to the zoos, the parks, the playgrounds more often, if I had said, “Let’s go fly a kite” out of nowhere.

If. Perhaps he would have something other than cooking and cleaning to draw with.

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