How to Be a Mom

Last summer when school got out I started looking online to see what I would do with my son every single day to keep him entertained.  I’ll admit that the first few days I was a little frantic.  How does one fill up days with constructive entertainment for a (then) four-year-old and not become a little cuckoo from child-entertaining overdosing?  Worse still….what if he didn’t enjoy himself?  What if Roan got bored with me? What if he turned into one of those kids that just wants to watch TV because I can’t think of anything better to do?  What if I actually just suck?  No, seriously.  I was a little nervous.  But then last summer everything turned out beautifully, it was the best summer of my life.  I got to know my son and who he was at his age – I feel like he constantly becomes different people.  I found that the secret to helping Roan enjoy his day, every single day is the most basic principle of being a mom:  I need to know my child. 

Some days he is introspective, and wants to play quietly.  Some days Roan is big enough to fill twelve cities and needs a legion of friends to be around him.  Sometimes he would like to be challenged physically; sometimes he’s down for sitting next to me on the couch and watching Star Wars or Spirited Away.  He does need me to push him into trying new things, but can decide for himself if he likes them or not.  And once he’s given the new thing a fair chance, I need to back up his verdict.  Thumbs up, down or sideways: his rating system. 

So last week, Spring Break, I would look to Roan to see what we needed to do each day.  If he was up for it, it was time to hang with the friends. That’s the majority of his days.  I must interject right here and now that Roan has the very coolest array of friends.  Each one brings out a different side of my son, and it is fascinating for me to witness the conversations and dynamics of these little guys.  I know – they’re big kids. But they are still so little.  I heard them discuss death and dying, sickness, sports, turn taking, flying, science, mammals vs. reptiles, princesses, and what Roan would be afraid of if he was a girl.  (Answer: nothing.  Because there’s nothing to be afraid of.)

We rode the Sky Tram and walked to a picnic by a lighthouse with Sophia, we played hopscotch like maniacs with Flora, went to Macy’s to look at the flower sculptures with Sachin, and played a neighborhood game of baseball with a group of kids who we’d never met.  We rode rides at Coney Island, went to the Aquarium, put our toes in the sand, and on one day when Roan was cool with just hanging out with me, we went to Central Park and ate ice-cream on a rock after a bird pooped on my head.  The bird pooping on my head was kind of the highlight of Roan’s entire Spring Break.  Feel free to take that idea and run with it for birthday parties and bar mitzvahs. 

I’m guessing that this summer is going to be even better than last, based on this Spring Break.  I’ve finally learned how to relax a little and let Roan show me what he wants to do.  It probably has a lot to do with him being a little older, and being able to express himself better.  It’s so hard when you have to guess their mood based on if they’ve slept enough, pooped enough, eaten enough and if the stars are aligned.  Being a mom is just so much easier now that I have someone around to tell me how to do it. 


15 responses to “How to Be a Mom

  1. Jodi–I love this entry. I agree that one of the coolest things about being a mom is getting to learn who these amazing little people are and who they are becoming. I’m privileged to be mom to three vastly different and completely fascinating human beings. Every day they teach me something new about themselves, and about me.

  2. I am not a mom yet, but watching you with Roan definitely makes me want to have kids sooner then planned! Thank you for that!

  3. I think most parents feel a lot of pressure when they have a baby for the first time to do everything right. That’s why you get all these mothers with their newborns in music classes and gym classes. I get the feeling they don’t want to be left alone with the kids, in case they’re no good at it. I guess I’m saying it’s nice to hear that it gets easier, and that you’ve felt that way before, too.

  4. I think three would blow my mind. That’s a whole lot of love to feel. They are good creatures, huh? I never knew there was so much I didn’t know until I met Roan.

  5. HA! That’s awesome. But he’s a rascal, also. Just watch out or he’ll come up with a zinger that knocks your socks off. He told my sister she looks like “Old Mother Hubbard”. Niiiiiiiiice.

  6. Oh yeh I’ve really been there. I think there’s a special form of anxiety that mothers get to hold on to. It makes us think we’re failing our children daily, regardless of how happy they are. I suppose it keeps us on our toes?

  7. Sounds like you are the funnest Mom around! What a great vacation! And, as usual… I love your photos. Roan is such a cutie! 🙂

  8. There are actually a whole bunch of moms that I’m surrounded by who I steal ideas from. Roan has the great taste to pick friends who have parents that I love, so I’m constantly getting ideas from them. Thanks for liking the photos — poor kid. Probably feels like he’s followed by the papz with all the photos I take. Soon he’s gonna get al Sean Penn on me and you’ll see me with a black eye. But I’d just photograph it and post it. I’m hopeless.

  9. In my lots-of-years of mothering, I use one main principle: listen to your child, and he will tell you exactly what he needs. Sometimes, it’s just to let him be. Hardest thing, letting him be bored sometimes.

  10. We left the city a couple of weeks ago. And now my big guy is adjusting to the fact that there’s a garden and neighbours and deer and stuff like that around. His sister’s doing a lot of dirt eating and walking on flower beds. But they seem to be getting the hang of it, and for the first time in very long I don’t have that “What on earth are we going to DOOO?” anxiety when thinking about the long summer break. I think we’re finally learning how to take the days as they come. Reading your post made me very happy. You’re so right. The more I listen to them, the more I learn. (And were we a little closer to NYC, I’d enroll all four of us in your muay thai classes.)

  11. Thanks for your blog. I only “know” you/your blog via Joe and Laura but I am constantly blessed, entertained and helped in my endeavors to be a “good” mom. Thanks for the reminder of how to best spend the down times with my son.

  12. I think we just single-handedly killed the child-raising-secrets publishing industry. Because it turns out you’re right. It really is just that simple. eh….so far.

  13. Oh man. As much as I love living here, your comment made me yearn for private outdoor space. That is truly something I miss – just releasing the children into the (fenced in and well protected) wild. Enjoy it. I will envy you from afar.

  14. Thanks for coming by! I love Joe and Laura. But you’ve probably gathered that by the fact that half of my posts are about their daughter.

  15. And what a blessing that would be! Hooray for you guys. Maybe you could take on Dr. Phil while you’re at it?

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