My children are not my report card…

I admit it- I suffer from PTRS Post traumatic report card syndrome.

I think it started in 3rd grade.  My deep and abiding fear and hatred of report cards, I mean. I’m not sure– they all start to run together into one huge NOT SATISFACTORY heap of the same:  “Tracey talks too much” , “Tracey doesn’t complete her work on time” “Tracey should spend more time working and less time socializing, in class.” , “Tracey needs to make more of an effort in class.”

While I’ve always LOVED learning– I was one of those people who breathed a deep sigh of relief when I finished school. NO MORE REPORT CARDS.

And then?  I had a kid.

Funny thing about having kids– they come with STUFF.  Like diapers, teething rings, pacifiers, preschools, back packs, homework, and yes: REPORT CARDS.

I remember the first report card that came home.. it made me endlessly happy.  My child was ahead of his class and I felt like I was the best mom in the world.   I put it up on the fridge and kept it as a talisman of accomplishment.  MY accomlishment, somehow.

For whatever reason-(maybe the desire to have a good report card of my own– or maybe my desperate need to have my young and fearful mothering skills affirmed) I was confused… I felt like his accomplishment was MINE. His accelerated learning meant I WAS A SMART AND GOOD MOM.

Which worked out ok for me, for a while.

Until a not so stellar report card came home. I was crushed.  (the kid was not- he couldn’t have cared less- and still doesn’t much care about grades.) I felt like a failure as a mother.

All kinds of thoughts flooded my mind:

Maybe I wasn’t reading to him enough.  Maybe I read to him too much.

Maybe I wasn’t giving him a healthy enough breakfast, or the twinkies in his lunch box were rotting his brain.

Maybe I hadn’t chosen the right school.

Maybe I shouldn’t have switched from having him listen to classical music at bedtime to Thomas The Tank Engine stories on tape…

Maybe I just plain sucked as a mother and he would have been better off being raised by literate wolves…or professionals. or SOMEONE THAT WASN”T AS BAD AT THIS MOTHERING THING AS ME.

I went to a local Moms group.. (a MOPS group- you should try and find one near you or start one- they are life savers:) and I talked to the mentor mom about how crappy I felt.  I mean–” I’m the MOM -they are my job- you know?”

I remember telling her.

Thats when she said something that became immensely freeing to me.

“Your children are  NOT your report card.”

At first I argued with her.. I mean really- if a mom does her job- then her kids should turn out well- right? Thats kind of like a report card.. If not- well you end up with your own reality (more like sur-reality imo) show or on Supernanny or something. The ultimate bad parenting report card- visible to the world.

She kept saying something stuff about how God creates each child with his own personality and set of unique challenges.. and how it’s all for a reason and that reason is bigger than me… and how I was PART of the plan but not the end all of the plan…

To be honest- I thought she was full of something that fills Pampers.

I was pretty sure that nurture trumps nature- and that I could make my kids be perfect. IF I DID ALL THE RIGHT THINGS.

And then, I had child # 2. Who was entirely different than child #1. FROM CONCEPTION.  I did all the same things.. but ths kid WAS DIFFERENT. If I wasn’t so math challenged I’d say it’ didn’t add up…

A light went on. Maybe she was right. Maybe it’s not all about me- my mothering, my skills, my methods.. maybe each kid is unique and God has a plan for them and for me.. and maybe part of it involves challenges and stresses and they will all work together to make them into incredible human beings…EVENTUALLY.

Maybe, just maybe, my kids aren’t my report card after all.

Maybe yours aren’t either.

Dear Lord- Being a parent is hard. I love my kids and want them to have everything they need, to be all that they can.  I feel responsible for things they struggle with.. I feel inadequate as a mom and as a woman.. I feel like their struggles are my fault. The truth is-  I mess up- I’ve made mistakes that HAVE made some things harder for my boys..but God- I have to believe that YOU are bigger than my mistakes- and that YOU love them even more than I do.. Lord- help me and each mom who stops by here to remember that our children are not our report card…they are so mush more than that.. I love you lord- amen!

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2 thoughts on “My children are not my report card…

  1. I want to debate against your conclusion so badly it makes my skin crawl. But I know it is right, so any attempt to argue against the sovereignty of the Lord would just make me look pathetic.

    So tell me, if they aren’t my report card, how do I know I am succeeding as a mother???

  2. FIrst- this may be my favorite comment ever. Thnx for your honesty- and I get it. I also- feel it.

    Before I answer- here are a few things to keep in mind:

    1) Remember- I have 2 sons in college as well as a third grader. So part of this is my being in a place of letting go of responsibility for 2 young men.

    2) I have a background in pastoral counseling- and one of the things that concerns me- is the mom who struggles because no matter how hard she tries- or how “perfectly” she parents- her child’s behavior often falls outside the realm of what society would grade as A+.

    Now- for the explanation-

    I’ve argued with myself over this too. (I’m crazy like that)

    And- to be honest- I don’t like the answer to the question “How do I know I’m succeeding as a mother?” any more than I like the fact that my children are not my report card….

    Cause I think it comes down to knowing in our hearts that we’ve honored God and been obedient in our parenting- keeping that focused not on what others may expect- but what is best in our unique circumstances- with our unique children.

    What makes this hard- is it’s sometimes hard to know..

    When our children are young- and when they are typical in their development and circumstances.. I think we can draw a correlation between desired behavior and effective parenting. I’m not minimizing that- we have a huge role in the creation of behavior patterns )

    However- I’ve also seen plenty of kids who have great “behavior” but have been so over controlled- they can’t function well as independent adults.

    For me- the key has been keeping myself in accountable relationships- and involving other moms/ friends/ mentors in my parenting process. This gives me extra sets of eyes- (that often see things I don’t) and helps me.

    I highly recommend- Reading “Boundaries” By Townsend and Cloud- and “Boundaries with Children” by the same…

    Hope this helps- but I’d also love to pose this question on Fb and Twitter— “How do we know we’re succeeding as moms?” I bet the answers would be amazing… 😉 Let me know if it’s ok.

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