Monday, November 07, 2011

It could be worse

Gratitude Day Seven: 
Today I'm grateful that things aren't as bad as they could be.

I've put myself in the bad mom doghouse.

It started a couple weeks ago with emails from one child's math teacher and lots of extra work to get that child on track in math. Just when we thought we had the math issues under control, that child's report card came and it was BAD (math was OK with a B- but seriously, how do you get an F in music and in art? Or a D in Spanish when you speak it quite fluently?). We knew this child was a little lazy sometimes with turning in work and found most things to be so easy that challenges often led to quick frustration. But we didn't know it was this bad. In the last little while, this child has also had some issues with lack of judgement in a couple situations that have got us worried.

Then we got an email last week from the teacher of our child who's report card actually looked much better than usual and who seemed to be finally in a good routine of accomplishing homework more quickly and well after years of hard work. This email said that this teacher and other teachers at the school would like to meet with me and Jared because they've noticed a pattern of disruptive classroom behavior and sloppy work. So we're working on getting that meeting set up and debating about whether to accompany this child to all his classes to see first hand what is going on.

Then later in the week, the twins came home with a note from their teacher saying they were being disruptive and not following directions in class. They've always been model students and their teachers have raved about how "perfect" they are in school. So getting this note was pretty disheartening - especially after all the other issues.  We had some good talks with the twins and I'm talking to the teacher today about whether they can read when they get done with their work quickly so they won't be disruptive (seems they get disruptive when they finish early and get bored).

Argggggg! What am I doing wrong? I have had to be gone once in a while for work and I'm probably distracted too much but I'm generally here every afternoon sitting right with the kids doing their homework and we do reading time and scripture time and have good structure and clear rules plus we try to make sure there's lots of unstructured time for fun and creativity. But wow, this parenting stuff can sure be humbling sometimes and I can definitely see places we need to improve. We've got one child who seems to be doing totally fine in school but I'm looking over my shoulder for a note from that child's teacher any day now! Please no!

So today I'm glad things aren't worse with our kids. We are so blessed. We've never had to deal with more than minimal behavior and academic problems with our children. Our kids are healthy and don't have any special needs (although I'm learning that there's a whole set of "special needs" that come along with a kid heading into puberty - their ability to focus and get things done seems to diminish drastically while their emotions ramp up considerably). 

But I guess this disheartening and humbling string of events is what we need to get more serious about some things around here.

What are you grateful isn't worse than it is?


valerie said...

Hey Saren!
You are describing my kids to a "T" the year we moved! I didn't put 2-and-2 together until looking back. My kids were having a reaction to so much change in their life. So I always tell my friends who have moved - give your kids a good year before they get all settled in and adjusted.
I would be willing to bet, it's nothing you are doing, or not doing, it's just their way of dealing with change. :)
You continue to be such an inspiration to me! Thanks for all you!:)

Sees-the-Day said...


Ne se pritesnaivai. Vsichko e nared. Tvoite detchitza sa strahotni. Pregurni gi ot mene. Misli za istinskoto znachenie the ychenieto. Tzeluvki na tebe i na tvoite gotini detza;)

Anonymous said...

How is a child getting a D in Spanish your fault? The child making a B minus has little to do with you as well.

You are not at school. How can you focus their little minds remotely if the certified teacher present in the room can't. All you can do is support her authority and the consequences. So not paying attention means they miss something, or they get a D in Art. Natural consequences. How does someone learn to pay attention if they never experienced the problems with not paying attention? Better at age 11 than working supporting a familiy of 3 kids.

Why does their successes or failures mean you are good or bad at motherhood? Your success or failure depends on what you put into, not the results of that effort. The results are up to them. A good mother doing all the right things can't make her child pay attention in Spanish via remote control from home.

Think of it as a farmer and a crop. Farmer plants, fertilizes, waters, puts chemicals on to prevent insects but the result may be drought watering can't overcome, pests in plague proportions or some mother nature joke. It doesn't mean the farmer is more or less capable cause the harvest wasn't as expected.

Jenny Hatch said...


I love your blog!

We recently took our nine year old out of school to teach him at home. All summer I had been looking forward to having my days to myself after 23 years of full time Mothering.

He tried to make third grade work at our local public school, and I give him a ton of credit for the attempt, but he was miserable and something deep in his heart needed some extra focus from me. I rebelled for several weeks, in denial about how important this was to him.

Ultimately it came down to my own desire for some peace and quiet contrasted with listening to what his meltdowns and bad behavior at home were trying to communicate to
us about what he needs now.

And what he needs is me. We have been homeschooling for several weeks now, and his behavior has dramatically improved.

I am not saying this is what your children need, more that sometimes we get a picture in our minds about all the personal desires we have as individual women, and we sacrifice so much when our children are babies, and we look at that youngest child going to school as this finish line in the mommy marathon, and it is a real and tangible pivot point for all mothers.

I felt it so strong when my youngest entered first grade, this deep satisfaction in all of my years of daily mothering, and this, "NOW time for me and my goals and my stuff".

Yet I watched him flounder emotionally that whole year, and a few weeks into second grade he just melted down and couldn't do it. Then all this past summer we worked with him and coaxed and encouraged, and like I said, he tried to make it work. But public school is just not a good fit for this son o mine.

So we are rethinking our life and I have spent some quality time mourning the loss of my "free time" as we have adjusted to this new reality of homeschooling a beloved nine year old boy...

You will figure it out. The Holy Spirit can offer so much help and insight into the specific needs of our individual children. Thanks for sharing this side of your life. It takes courage to admit as a blogging mom that not everything is perfect.

Jenny Hatch

Hilary said...

I think its Jr High... kind of makes them a mess.
Conner's been having a lot of similar issues as A. We have come up with some goals about not having sloppy work and me watching him do homework at the table for at least 1/2 an hour every day.
Anywho.... hang in there. :)

Julz said...

This happens, I blame puberty too! Hang in there, if anyone can work through it-it's you. You are an amazing Mama!

Kris M. said...

I love your perspective on this. It is especially great to see you blog about your situation. Many bloggers only share the great stuff and not the real stuff.
I think your situation can be described in a word--boys.
If it's your daughter, then the word is brothers, all brothers. I have 4 boys and a girl all in 7 years and all my kids can be talkative in school; absent minded; disorganized. My oldest boy is a freshman in high school..we are constantly teaching him life skills. Seems to me you're doing a great job and doing everything right. Don't forget growing up in big families is so great, but brings it's unique challenges!

For the Love of Naps - Sarah said...

Hi Saren,

I read your recent blog post and my heart is sad for you. I can just imagine how overwhelmed you are feeling. To have all of those things coming to your attention in such a short amount of time. You are such an inspiration to post the reality along with the magic that goes on in your house (your sunday post and more!). And as I have spent time catching up on who you are as a mom, as a new reader of your blog, I can tell what an amazing family you have. Someone in the comments eluded to you having moved recently and that transition might have something to do with it. And other wise women pointed out that junior high is a crazy time of growing up. Someone else commented about homeschooling, and to be honest I just feel like her suggesting homeschooling at this moment would be SUPER overwhelming. And I KNOW FOR A FACT that you do not put your ME time above your child's needs. But she is wise that every child has different needs and that is great that she has figured out what her child needs.

I just wanted you to know, as a former teacher, that supporting the teacher, working with your kids, and doing all the things that you have going in your family are amazing. Take it in little steps and don't overwhelm yourself or your kiddos with changes etc. I have a feeling that the reality of the grades will impact your children and they might just need their own moment to process. Start small - just like you suggested at the NH power of moms retreat, because I know you are an action step person and will probably try to change some things to help them out.

Your voice, your personality, it just exudes love and patience. I wish I could have bottled some of that up. You are an amazing mother and just like that other commenter said - it isn't anything you are doing that is causing your kids to hit a little bump in their school year. They will grow and you will grow from all of this.

Anyways, I just wanted to say I was thinking of you and hoped that you were starting to feel inspired to tackle this hurdle instead of feeling like life is spinning out of control.

Thinking of you!

Jen H. said...

I'm grateful that I'm not truly homeless, even though I like to think of myself that way when I'm having a pity party. This transitional time in my life could be so much worse.

Hang in there. The school interface can be so tough! And I know you have a lot of valid demands on your time. You will figure it out gracefully.

SADACAD said...

Haha! This was my week this past week! I have parent/teacher meetings lined up and one teacher thinks Dallen is suffering from depression (it's more stubborness than anything else!). There is no way you are a bad mom! You're kids know you love them and in the end...that's all that matters :)

brittanimae said...

I know this sounds TERRIBLE and reflects badly on me as a person, but I was a tiny bit relieved as I read your post. Last year when we moved, our oldest had major readjustment issues at school (yup, including an F on the report card) and to my great surprise, our third who had always been SO easy to get along with had a really hard transition to kindergarten. It was so time-consuming and stressful to have all the meetings with the teachers and to have to be RIGHT ON TOP of every single piece of homework every single day, along with behavior charts! Eventually they got through it and I really did chalk it up to moving for the most part.

But not long after we had worked through most of it, I remember reading one of your blogposts about your transition to new house/new school and being GREEN WITH ENVY over how well your transition seemed to go by comparison. It's reassuring to know that we all have challenges and it's the way respond to them--not some magical touch that some of us have and some of us don't--that gets us through.

Good luck and keep at it! I'm having my own anxiety about middle school next year and am considering enrolling my oldest only partially at first if they'll let me. It's a hard time of life (for moms and kids)!


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