Some days I’m pretty good at my job as parent. I make meals my bosses are surprised they like (i.e. ham and bean soup). I help them–without any sarcastic commentary–find their lost items. I have their laundry washed and waiting when they wake.
Most days I’m thankful my job doesn’t include a formal performance review. Who wants a typed report about my crappy, healthy meal? Or how I yelled at my bosses for losing their shoes or glasses? Or how I forgot to wash their swimsuit when I promised I would. Parenting is relentless enough.
Still, we all like a little feedback on how we’re doing. My bosses may not have defined outcomes to measure my progress as their parent, but they review my work in subtle ways.
Here are recent performance reviews from my three bosses Corrigan (5), Melisandra (9), Reece (2).
I stood at the kitchen sink putting away the dishes before starting supper. Corrigan sat at the kitchen table, coloring in an activity book. She said, “Mom, it must be hard being a parent of three kids.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because you do a lot of heavy breathing and pausing.”
After a 9 p.m. trip to the grocery store, I put away all items except the box of Cheerios. Melisandra loves to fill her bowl to the brim with Cheerios every morning for breakfast. I thought she’d like the surprise of a new box waiting for her. I set the box on the kitchen table along with a bowl and spoon.
I found her by the computer the next morning. “Did you get some breakfast?” I asked.
No excitement about the new box? I waited for her to scold me for setting out the bowl and spoon, items she insists she can get out herself.
“Wasn’t that a fun surprise?”
“You didn’t leave me a note.”
Ah! That’s a first. Let me translate: “Mom, when you bug me by setting out the bowl and spoon, you usually write me a nice ‘Good morning! I love you’ message. I missed that.” I didn’t know she noticed my notes.
Reece’s English is at a phase where she sounds like a foreign exchange student. We have conversations like this one.
Me: Before you can have treats, let’s wash your hands.
Reece: No wash hands. Chocolate. Now.
Many words flow from Reece’s lips, but I don’t always understand them. This morning, she said, “Eenex? Eenex?” She reached up at me, and I realized she wanted Kleenex, not just for her but for her stuffed monkey, too.
At bedtime, as I leave the room, she yells, “Wait!” She says it because she likes my response–Mommy’s back to listen. She points to ask for things in the room. Her words are so muddled it sounds like a hum. Sometimes I figure out what she wants. Sometimes I don’t.
Last night, after rounds of I leave, Wait/I leave, Wait/ I leave, Wait/I leave, Wait, I said, “I don’t understand you. I am done. You need to go to sleep.” I closed the door and felt cruel.
One afternoon, I held Reece on my hip as I ascended the stairs for nap time. She put her head on my shoulder. “Best mom ever.” She said every vowel and consonant clearly.
What a surprise to understand her and be complimented at the same time. She didn’t need to repeat herself, but she did. “Best mom ever,” she said with a big exclamation point of a voice and a hug.
Inspired by the letter J as part of the A to Z Challenge for the month of April.
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