In differences, small victories

There are days I think I am raising a parrot.

As I hang up a conference call, my son pipes up with not one—but two—perfect British accents. One Northern, one Welsh-based. While he cannot tell me which accent hales from which region, he mimics the pronunciations perfectly.

Unremarkable until he does the same with Indian, Scottish, South African and Korean accents.

And I realize, this boy has spent far too much time in the background of my conference calls.

While many mothers drive to and from school chatting about the weather, or today’s test, my son usually tries to tune out with a book while executives from around the world discuss supply chain operations or talent strategy—whatever I happen to be working on at the time.

Yesterday, he told me he thought my allotment of screen time was an unfair “dispersion.” Hmph. It is hard to argue with someone little more than half your size who sports a vocabulary that rivals yours. Downright disconcerting, it is.

When working on a group project recently, he forgot a key piece he was supposed to bring to class. When a classmate heatedly told him to call his mother to bring it to school, he was astonished. He said, “Mom, I’m not sure what the other mothers do, but I told her you work. That you’re on calls and your computer most of the day. That your job is not to bring me forgotten things.”

I felt triumphant and awful at the same time. I am modeling for him what a strong woman does—what she can do—to support a family. And yet, I want him to feel I have his back. That he can count on me to pick up a few fallen pieces here and there.

It is a balancing act, this single mother thing. I used to bemoan not being able to provide what I did years ago—a warm, home-cooked meal most nights, strict monitoring of homework, the time to truly listen.

I bemoan no longer. Eating together takes precedence over home-cooked by me or a service like Dinners by Design. Self-reliance and responsibility evolve as my homework monitoring recedes. And guess what? Even in the midst of what feels like 5,000 things to do, I have learned that I can tune all else out and truly listen.

If he remembers only that, I will count myself victorious.

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34 Comments Add yours

  1. It’s a no-win, this mothering thing. No matter what we do, it ain’t ’nuff and I’m (I mean we’re) always wrong. (Can you tell I have issues??) You sound like you’re running circles around me, girlfriend. Rock on.

    1. candidkay says:

      I think only us over achieving souls take on the mothering gig in any lifetime:). And then we angst! Crazy.

  2. I think he actually listens. Just look at the accents he knows 😛

  3. I love his answer to the question of bringing his forgotten things – I think that will stand him in good stead for treating women well when he grows older! And that talent for mimicry could take him into all kinds of interesting careers…

    1. candidkay says:

      I certainly hope so on the women front! I’m trying to raise a gentleman:). As for the rest–it’s anyone’s guess–tinker, tailor, soldier, spy:).

  4. Aunt Beulah says:

    If he remembers only that you listened to him, you will be magnificently victorious.

  5. It is always a juggling act, motherhood, and more so being single. You can always look at the advantages of being single, of being able to give your full attention to your children (ie being able to listen). One of the things I regret (looking back at my marriage) are those times when I wanted to listen 100% and I had to split myself between my husband and my children.

  6. Nice work mom! What a smart, strong boy you are raising. Good for him for speaking up.

  7. marlene frankel says:

    Once again your philosophy makes perfect sense.

    1. candidkay says:

      I have my good days when it all gels, as we all do:). Thank you!

  8. heyjude6119 says:

    When I was in school and forgot something, I was told I needed to learn to be more organized. When my children were in school and forgot something, they weren’t allowed to call and have me bring it, they were told they needed to be more organized. I think your son is already headed in the right direction. Being self reliant is an important trait. He knows you have his back when it really counts. You’re doing a good job, Kris!!!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). I do think he knows I’m there when it counts. And I do believe learning these things young is important. I see so many befuddled college students–overwhelmed because suddenly their parents aren’t there to rescue. I don’t want that . . .

  9. You are a wise Mama.

    1. candidkay says:

      Means a lot, coming from another wise mama:).

  10. There was so much accountability and respect in your son’s response to his classmate’s frustrated assumption. I would bet your son knew he could call you, but judged the moment with a perspective broader than his years.

    And that is not to say he is growing up too quickly or shouldering an unfair burden; those accents – they tell me he is savoring the experience of his childhood with a well-developed appreciation for details.

    1. candidkay says:

      I hope so! I hope the responsibility is mixed with the fun :-).

  11. It is always a balance and only you know what that means for your family. Most children I know are more resilient than we believe, what they want most is to be listened to and loved and you are definitely doing that Kristine.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you so much! Those are kind words.

  12. Archita says:

    He sounds like an amazing and wonderful son. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! He is . . .

  13. Sounds like you have a wonderful, intelligent son.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! I may be slightly biased :-).

  14. George says:

    You have one very interesting young man there. He has all the best answers in all the interesting accents. I’m guessing you already know what’s in store for you…:)

    1. candidkay says:

      Not sure how I feel about being the mother of a future spy:).

      1. George says:

        Lol…I’m sure he’ll use his talents in this country. But you know, many girls are suckers for accents. Once he finds that out, he’s going to be a very popular young man..:)

  15. You’re doing a great job with your son! How absolutely enheartening (don’t even know if that’s a real word) to know how well he’s turning out. When I think about how as young children, the advice is to not rescue them if they forget lunch at home or leave a book at home, but rather to let them learn how to deal with it themselves, I sometimes think about how, once they’ve learned that lesson, it’s ok to have their back once in a while and take them whatever it was they forgot (especially if it isn’t too much of an inconvenience). The balancing act of life.

    1. candidkay says:

      I agree on the balance. Many times, I wish I could bail him out now and then. Am hoping that crazy schedules lessen to provide for that.

  16. Amy says:

    Love this!! I don’t know which of you I want to hug more – your wonderful son, or wonderful you! Way to be – both of you!! 💗

  17. I think there is something to be said for kids learning that their parents work hard! At least that’s what I tell myself as our son will grow up in a house where both his parents work from home so he will have no choice but to see us working, hopefully not to his neglect but to his benefit. I’m already learning that the balance is hard and I appreciate your wise words about priorities.

    1. candidkay says:

      I couldn’t agree more! I do try so hard to show them that despite working hard, I do so to make a life on the other end. And I encourage them to do what they love so life and work are a good combo.

  18. Faith says:

    He sounds like an awesome person!
    Smart
    Considerate
    Respectful
    Diplomatic
    !!!!!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Faith! I certainly hope so. I may be ever so slightly biased, though:).

  19. Kevin says:

    I’m glad he has figured that you aren’t going to bail him out all the time. The accents are a bonus too!

    1. candidkay says:

      I try to think of it as a bonus:). He will, I hope, be better prepared for life than if I helicoptered it.

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