There are so many times as a parent that we do things for our children without a second thought.
As the mom or as the dad, it’s just what we do. Middle of the night feedings for your newborn? Of course! Stay home from work to take care of your sick little one? Of course! Drop everything you’re doing to kiss a boo boo? Of course! These are what I like to call “no brainers.” They come with the territory of being a parent. You don’t even need to think about it, you just do them.
And then there are the things we do as parents that don’t come quite as naturally. Well, at least not for me. Wipe that huge, nasty, disgusting snot bubble off your sweet child’s nose? Ugh, okay, if I have to. Sing the entire “Rainbow Connection” song in Kermit’s voice, for the 15th time? Well all right, but seriously, this is the last time. Go on the spinning teacup ride (aka the lesser known 10th circle from Dante’s Inferno)? Sure, but Jesus take the wheel, cause I’m about to barf.
Even these things are doable though, with the power of parenthood. They can even be enjoyable and looked back upon with fond memories. But what about all those crazy things we do as parents, completely conscience of the decision we’re making, that our kids don’t even know about and may never understand the value of?
I’m standing here at the Service Desk of Target. It’s the fourth Target I’ve been to, and I’m waiting for the manager on duty to come and listen politely as I share my well-practiced speech on why they should donate to my child’s school auction. This is a rare moment when I’m actually at Target without my children, but instead of grabbing a cart and running down the aisles giggling like a crazy person, I’m standing here waiting, donation request letter in hand.
I start to people watch. Parent after parent comes through the front doors, strapping their children into carts, Ergo carriers and strollers. Determination and smiles show on their faces as they wander through the dollar section. It’s a comical contrast to the haggard, exhausted looking parents leaving the store, tugging at their now screaming children. I watch these parents go about doing what they do — shopping for clothes, food and toys for birthday parties. There are so many things their children have no idea about.
When the manager arrives, I give my speech. Sometimes the managers I talk to are parents too, and they smile knowingly as I ask for the donation. Sometimes they’re not parents and they look at me, skeptical or defensive. Sometimes I leave with a donation, sometimes I don’t. Then I’m on to the next store.
Will my kids ever know about this short, fleeting time in their life? Will I remember to tell them about it?
“Hey hun, you didn’t know this at the time, but remember your preschool? Remember all that paint and glitter? Yeah, you totally had that because your mommy went from store to store asking for donations to keep the school running. Wasn’t that super cool of me to do?”
I can imagine the blank stares I’d get. But I’m choosing to do these things for my kids. They aren’t asking me to do it. They don’t even really need me to do it. They will definitely survive without the paint and glitter. The school might not survive, so I guess, technically, I’m doing it for the school.
But I wouldn’t be doing it for the school if my child wasn’t going there, and my child is going there because I want the best for him.
And isn’t that why we do what we do? Because we want the best for our kids. So when the time comes that I have to do things as a parent that I really don’t want to do — like stay up late to worry where they are, or discipline them for making the wrong choices, or let them fall sometimes — that’s when I’ll have to remember that I’m the mom and this is what we as mom’s do because we love them.
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 5-year-old James and 3-year-old Luke.