Another Lesson Learned about Judging Other Moms

Parenting is a highly reiterative lesson on the folly of judging others, yet it seems to take many little ah-ha moments for me to learn.

Driving through morning carpool as the seasons change, there is a diverse array of garb. The girls in first grade start wearing tights with their cute little skirts. Overnight, the boys in second grade might trade their shorts and t-shirts for a Broncos sweatshirt and jeans. A few of the little ones even march onto campus in jackets.

Then there is the boy who stands with his too skinny shoulders hunched, hands stuffed in pockets, shivering in shorts and pledging allegiance to the flag during all-school outdoor assembly. Or the girl who has grown inches since spring, revealing bare, knobby knees and goose-bumped arms as snowflakes land in her hair.

And as a mom of little ones, you can’t help but think, “Who is his mother?” Or “Where are her parents? She is going to freeze to death!”

Well, after years of judging other parents for their lack of control over their child’s clothing decisions, I know who his mother is.

It’s me. The mom of middle school boys who wear shorts in winter and no sweatshirts at recess. They refuse to wear a jacket to stay warm when the morning frost still glistens, just in case the afternoon sun makes them look like dorks carrying winter coats.

It was not long ago, when that bothered me. No more.

It is not that I care less about whether they catch pneumonia, or less about how they present themselves to others, or less about how I am judged as a parent. I do remind them a hundred times or more. But I know that when they can’t take it anymore – well before they die of hypothermia – they will decide on their own to dress sensibly.

And I am focused much more on preparing them to be good, hard-working, kind, successful, happy young men… who may look a bit ridiculous in the year’s first snow.

The Flawed Timing of Fantasy Football

“Can Matt Ryan take a team to the Super Bowl?”

“How could you lose against the dog last week?”

“Why do I keep losing with that many points from Peyton? Is anyone else playing out there?!”

Distracted boys.

Globs of oatmeal on the kitchen table, spoons frozen mid-journey to debate rankings, Super Bowl chances, quarterback records, and fantasy teams.

Lots of 6 a.m. chatter.

“You lost to the dog again!”

“The Buccaneers are going down!”

Missing sports pages.

Thousands of “I just need to check my fantasy team” when they should be…
tying shoes
eating breakfast
memorizing vocabulary words
studying metamorphosis, maps, math and Mesopotamia
brushing teeth
practicing guitar
eating, playing, bathing, sleeping
listening to their mother…

…who wishes that football season and the start of school did not collide like this.

One Mother to Another

“Are we there yet?” my three guys ask twenty minutes into any trip. So I think I am entitled to ask “are we there yet?” after five months of cold weather and snow.

Mother Nature, could you get a move on with spring?

You might think I am just tired of the cold, but give me some credit. I was tired of winter four months and 29 days ago, and I did not bother you then or during the many bitter days between. As a mother, I know how busy you are.

My appeal is about savings and recycling – things you care deeply about.

You see, my boys are starting to look a little silly in long pants that have grown too short. And the middle one just got a hole in the knees of his jeans. That’s against dress code. It means I need to use more water to wash the dwindling number of available pants, and I cannot recycle them in three years for the youngest.

Plus, depending on the kid, they are either still too skinny for the next size up or will grow out of the next pair before seasons change again. You don’t want me to waste valuable resources, do you?

I appeal to you as a fellow mother, who wants to save her children (from social extinction?) because we both know it’s the right thing to do. “We are there! It is Spring!”

Mother Nature, hit us with a heat wave, turn up the sun….

…so my boys can wear shorts.

The Changing of the Guards

There is a day I dread every year, and I have wished it away since I can remember.

It’s the first day every summer when the newly trained lifeguards twirl their first whistles. It means that the veteran guards have returned to college. That the swim team has disbanded. That the neighborhood kids are all getting reacquainted with their school friends.

It shows when the new, still-in-high-school guards wear their sweatshirts in the suddenly brisk mornings. There is a melancholy in the afternoon light, as if the pool itself knows it will soon be drained, abandoned by its children with only leaves collecting and rotting on the top of the tarp that covers it.

I have nothing against the newly trained guards. I was one once myself a long time ago, eager, alert, proud to be a pool elder, empowered by my new whistle and the height of my chair.

I just know that their first day on the job is the harbinger of the changing seasons, the end of another glorious, happy summer.