I live in Northern Virginia and I'm proud of it. But I also care way too much about what people think of me. My biggest battle in life is searching for and finding contentment. Sometimes I just want to shout to the roof tops, "What the hell do half of these people do around here!?!"... and the other half of my life I struggle to stop trying to keep up with the Joneses and to not be a Jones.
And lately, it's gotten easier and easier. Ya see, we're not the Jones. While that's a beautiful name, and we even know and love some Jones, We are the McCullers.
It's Swim Meet Eve... The night before our first swim meet of the summer- the night before we wake up to the fresh smell of chlorine in the air, whistles, and my children fighting over when they get to hit the snack bar- because we all know that's what they look forward to most. And trust me, we're not perfect- while I'll encourage them to go for the banana, more than likely the chocolate covered donut will win out.
Tonight, like many other Friday nights, I was outside letting the kids run wild and chatting with my neighbors. They asked if kids still dip their fingers in Jell-O to get a sugar high before a swim meet, and I said I hadn't seen that... and then said, "But I'm not that mom that feeds her kids sugar or walks alongside the pool critiquing their every stroke. Some of these swim parents are over the top." I even went on to say, "I know myself and I was so competitive for so long... that as long as I play dumb and don't know anything- I won't put too much pressure on the kids." The mom that I was talking to- that I look up to in so many ways - then said that she used to cheer so loud and walk down the side of the pool with her daughter... and it dawned on me- that it might just be okay to be that mom.
Ya see, raising children in this area has had me freaked out. I see kids carted from activity to activity- having personal trainers, lessons, you name it... and the hubz and I just never want to have our kids feel like they have to do something. We see time and time again how there is a fine line between dictating and creating a life for your kids and supporting their interests. We both were raised playing sports and have witnessed the difference between kids chasing their dreams and parents pushing their children do what they never did.
But I'm over it.
I'm not playing dumb any more- I'm way smarter than I think.:) I'm my kids' biggest fan and if someone doesn't like me cheering, they can bite me. In our home, you don't have to be the best, you just have to try your best. It doesn't matter if you come in first or last... I'm going to love my babies just the same- and they will always know that.
I vow to raise kids and to give them the best opportunity in life. If they want pitching lessons, Mama will go without a new outfit and watch that kid for a few hours to make it happen. And if they don't want anything to do with sports, then so be it. If they want to join the drama club, then Mama will be waiting after every show with the biggest bouquet of flowers they've ever seen.
I've been training for a triathlon for the past few months... and tonight I skipped out on a free clinic. Now- after tonight's ephiphany- I get why I flaked. I was "playing dumb." My mentality has been, if I just "wing it," and don't really put forth my full effort, then it's okay if I'm just mediocre. And now, I'm realizing that if anything, that's not playing dumb, that's just dumb. Life is about going after things you want... even if it means being that person.
In our home, the biggest gift that I can give my children is to find a passion- whatever that my be. And I will do whatever it takes for them to chase after their dreams. Maybe, just maybe, I have a little Tiger Mama in me after all... Refuse to be mediocre. Be something exceptional... Hmmm.... and maybe I need to parent myself a little.:)
Sorry kids. We're not the Joneses. Mama feels like I have found my parenting philosophy- the one that I've been so afraid to admit lies within me for so long... So if you think you're going to get out of studying those spelling words, you're wrong. And if you think you are going to skip out on your math extra credit sheet, think again. And Chris and Addie as you are all snug as a bug and having sweet dreams, your Mommy will admit, I've checked the heat sheet for tomorrow morning, and my competitiveness has come out. I know who my Topher needs to beat, and I will be his #1 fan cheering him on. Don't worry, I haven't gone all psycho- I know I don't have the next Michael Phelps on my hands and I know that in a few years swimming probably won't even be his thing. I still couldn't tell ya if he DQ's on his breast stroke because I don't even know what's legal or not... but I do know that for now he loves it. And I do know that I'll be there encouraging him every step of the way whether he's first or last. Because that's what we do. We'll drive to the swim meet blasting Big Time Rush to get pumped up. We'll dance silly and the kids will still be just that- kids. We'll support each other, cheer, and above all else, we'll love one another. Afterall, we're McCullers. :)