Am I Doing Enough?

A synonym is a word you use
when you can't spell the other one.
~~Baltasar Gracián

It just seems that today's children have so much to do, they no longer know how to do anything! In truth, even their creative thinking is being done for them. It's no longer necessary to create stories, you just watch a movie. It's no longer necessary to imagine dolls talking, they really do talk. Really, the ingenuity of previous generations has automated so much and solved so many problems that some basic thinking and skills are no longer required.

Well, fine, we're not to the point of having automatic banana peelers, self propelled, laser guided eating utensils, or robotic toilet bowl cleaners yet; but there are some basics many people have left by the wayside.

Take sewing for example. You don't have to do it. You can buy all the clothes you need already put together and much more affordable. So what's the point? The point is sewing is near the top of the list of necessary personal and survival skills. It's just plain useful and sensible to know how to sew. Of course, you and I as adults understand that; how do you convince a child that sees racks of clothes at Wal-Mart or Target of its usefulness? By avoiding the entire subject, of course. Instead, focus on the entertainment value of sewing. After all, it is fun. It's creative, challenging, requires applied action, independent thinking, problem solving ability, and develops good motor skills. Do you see where I'm going with this? It has to be made into a fun activity. Put it on the get to do list, not the have to do list.

Sewing does develop all of those good things in children, even when they are still young. Hey, if a kid can learn to read, he or she can learn to sew. It is also a great family activity (or a good one-on-one experience) for me and our two daughters.

Thankfully for us, both of our girls have been in 4-H Sewing Club that meets once a week (from October through June) since last year. DD#1 is quite adventurous and always pursuing projects beyond her skill level. Her club leader has threatened--in fact both girls--they will be suspended if they choose another stretchy knit for future projects (I'm sure she was joking.) DD#1 is half-way through her bath/sleeping robe. DD#2 has neck and sleeves to sew and hem to complete her pajamas top project from last year. Her pants is still lost mysteriously in the black hole. In between, they are sewing polar fleece mittens for soldiers around the globe. (Last year, they made medical pillows for the troops.) You might not think it's amazing or a miracle. New clothes, new pillows, you name it, they are getting it! The girls feel a real sense of pride knowing they did it themselves, too. I Made This Myself! is definitely hip.

Another good thing is that I'm bored, can be replaced with Look what I made! It just takes a little encouragement and proper material to start them out with. Naturally, the younger you start, the easier it will be.

A 3-year-old may be a little young to handle a needle; there's no reason she/he can't sit with mom, dad, or grandma and start to see the enjoyment and creativity of it. Personally, I think as parents these days, we just may have an advantage that we don't always realize. We don't necessarily have to create the next wonder of the world for our children. In fact, going back to some basics often proves more fun for them than anything else. With computers and TV doing and
ing wondrous things, it's hard to impress a kid any way. Teaching basics such as sewing that lead the child to create their own personal wonders will in the end be more rewarding for both parents and children. Not to mention, they actually have to sit still for a while to do it!

On a different note: I’m sure every mother faces the dilemma of Am I doing enough? It's just part of our culture to chastise women for working, not working, not spending enough time with the children, spending too much time with the children...we put unbelievable amount of pressure on women today to be all we can be...and then some.

I’ve certainly fallen into that trap--and it's not something I can easily navigate. There are only 24 hours in a day. Despite what Martha Stewart espouses, trying to make life perfect ISN’T a good thing.

For the most part, I’ve been okay with life choices I’ve had to make since retiring from a lavishing, glamorous corporate career. It helped that my husband is very involved in the children. There is always that little voice asks Am I doing enough for the kids?

Most of the time this self doubt will come out of nowhere. I’ve been cruising along, perfectly content with all my decisions...until a day when I am faced with an impossible task for our daughter or son...


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On a not-so-typical Thursday, my homeschooling friend Prue (a family therapist) had to work from 12:30 to 7. I volunteered to babysit her two boys (11 and 7) while she worked. We met up at noon while the girls were at their sewing club. DD#2 requested a break from gymnastic practice after sewing and I agreed without question or fuss. While DD#1, DS, and their buddy Katherine at the gym for an hour, DD#1, Max, Ben, and I had a grand time taking a stroll, discovering ten unusual features of homes nearby in a part of newly established neighborhood in NE side of town(including one of my favorite American Visionary Frank Wright.) The once rural area of Bend--where the sun shines the longest--has changed dramatically over the past century. This inner-city district of Central Oregon is becoming increasingly upscale. Changes are a foot. It was a great walk around the neighborhood--one of my unrivaled favorite times (next time I'll remember to bring my camera!)

Later at our favorite Upper Sawyer park, I had a chance to gently dismiss some of my past anxieties and future concerns and return to my phrase and steps. I stood tall and was aware of my breathing once again. It was Fantastic--exactly what I needed--a change, a great time, and soooo good to see my friend Prue! Happy things all around...I felt peace and joy.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So to continue the theme of the day, instead of tackling chores after dinner, the four of us hung out together, snuggled up, and played Mancala. Can you imagine laughably losing three games straight to a 9½-year-old? I remain humble. The children eventually drifted off to sleep.


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On Friday afternoon, our homeschooling group met at Jolene's in Southeast (??) part of town. A friend led another perfect fun science field trip extracting maple sap. I managed to capture some special moments of the afternoon. The worst of the day was having to drive around town three times in a day because the children I volunteered to pick up and drive home live as far from one end to the opposite end of town as you can imagine. I should have filled up the tank last week when gas for regular was only $2.93/gallon. This week, even at Fred Meyer, I paid $3.17/gallon and the bill was over $75! I was thankful to be home and stay in for a rare, unparalleled blissful evening...more snuggled up and Mancala.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Saturday is finally here. The ground was wet (but still no snow in sight) at 6 in the morning when I made it out to clean up the yard and put away stuff accumulated in the back patio. I was on a mission to clean...dishes unloaded, new dishes washed, counters wiped, floor swept and mopped, offers posted in local FREECYCLER...I promised DD#1 to show her the rope on listing her two bags on etsy.com. First, she measured; then, she wrote a few descriptive words. Now, comes the challenge...pricing and tags. We spent a good hour browsing through similar items offered by other accomplished artists. More research to be done...The children played a round of basketball outside. By then, DD#1 had to get ready for a 4H Gala this evening. Her leader asked her and her buddy Katherine to demonstrate their sewing skills in front of hundreds of 4Hers. This was the first event I missed as I am still combating the nasty cold. Instead, I am home with DD#2 and DS creating more magical moments. When you home school, you can really take the time to observe and learn who your children are because you are with them so much.

I won't see DD#1 until tomorrow. She has indisputably joined the rank of adolescence. I do see a sign of struggles to find her own identity. She's decided who she doesn't want to be--and that person is me. Thanks to her advanced intellectual development, she's figured out I am not perfect and is spending more time enumerating my shortcomings, not in any disrespectful way. I don't take it personally because I do remember how awful I must have been to my parents when I was at her age--I was no angel! Although annoying and perhaps humiliating, this separation from me is a healthy developmental stage that she needs to go through in order to become an independent adult. Oooh...how I miss her already, my reliable, indispensable mother helper.

I accomplished nothing. And I accomplished everything. More meandering on making the most of today and captivating memories for tomorrow another time...



If you would not be forgotten
as soon as you are dead and rotten,
either write things worth reading
or do things worth the writing.
~~Benjamin Franklin

1 encouragements:

Kaylynn's Mommy said...

I agree with you about children using their imagination and creativity!

True learning-learning that is permanent and useful,that leads to intelligent action and further learning, can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.
John Holt
Real heroes are men who fall, fail and are flawed, but win out in the end because they stayed true to their ideals, beliefs and commitments.
Actor Kevin Costner
 

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