If a tree falls in the forest, and there’s nobody around to hear, does it make a sound?
If your kid does something, and you are not there to witness it, does it mean it didn’t happen?
According to my older son, the answer to the second question is yes. If your mom is not there, your accomplishment loses considerable meaning. It doesn’t even matter if dad is there to watch it. It has to be mom.
Why exactly is this?
This is a natural result of me being a stay-at-home parent. I am with my kids more than anyone else and they have come to rely on me always being there. Whether it’s before or after school, anything sports-related or any type of academic competition, field trip or party at their school, the expectation is: mom will be there.
My boys are older now and they are needing me less. As I sense this shifting dynamic, I have started to develop outside interests. While my focus remains on parenting them, I now have other responsibilities like growing as a writer and being a board member for a non-profit that I am passionate about. My older son finds it hard to believe that there could be anything more pressing than watching his basketball games. A couple of weeks back I left his game early to watch the beginning of a World Cup game. My son’s team was losing by a tremendous margin and I felt like it was an okay time to go and dad was fine to stay until the end. Of course I missed my son making his one and only basket of the game. He couldn’t believe that I wasn’t there to see it. I did feel a bit guilty about it, but I know this is more about the pattern we have established than my merits as a parent. The good news is, patterns can be changed.
I was talking to a friend about how my boys are accustomed to me always being around. This friend works part-time and has four children. All of her kids are busy, especially her older two, and physically and logistically she isn’t able to be there for all their activities. They all are independent and are used to their mom being available for events only some of the time. Seems to me like they are doing well and they have adjusted their expectations of their mom. After listening to her, I realized that I need to continue to separate from my kids and allow them to have lives that are more their own. The upside will be that my life will then become more my own. And possibly, my boys will then have to come to MY events and watch ME accomplish something.
Written by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent