I remember sitting in a playgroup and listening to all the other moms rattling off their children’s activities.
Music class. Ballet. Soccer. Swimming. Spanish. Chinese. Our kids were not yet two.
Nonetheless, I remember having a silent panic attack that I had already failed my child. I hadn’t introduced her to music or foreign language. Would that part of her brain that needed to be activated in early childhood now languish forever due to my negligence. I also wasn’t doing baby flash cards, Baby Einstein or verbalizing every thought that crossed my brain every hour of the day (“Look, sweetie, here are tomatoes and carrots, they are vegetables and make you strong….”) so my child would have a constant stream of language coming at her.
To me it seemed like overkill. Or was it? Perhaps these type A moms knew something I didn’t. Perhaps I was already falling behind in the parenting race.
I panicked! I went home and promptly signed my 20 month old up for music, and gymnastics and soccer – I could barely master baby signing so I knew foreign languages were not going to be my forte.
As I started schlepping her to all these classes, I met even more over scheduling parents who awakened a whole new series of anxieties over things I was not yet doing – taking them to nutrition, eye sight and other specialists, instituting chores, practicing early reading. It was enough to make your head spin.
I wobbled out of one of the classes, securely fastened my daughter in her car seat, cranked up the Justin Roberts on the CD player and had a cathartic cry. I was never going to succeed in my own mind if I kept trying to hit the bar set by others. I turned down the music, turned around and asked my daughter which if any of the classes she enjoyed and wanted to continue with. She very maturely replied that she always liked what she did as long as she was with me. Such a simple answer. She didn’t need fancy classes or educational tools. She just needed me.
Now, whenever I feel overwhelmed that I am somehow not doing enough for my children, I try to remember that I am giving them my time and that is just as important, if not more, than any other gadgets or gizmos.
What do you think?