Mom: Get Off the Crazy Train (Part 1)
By Dr. Meg Meeker
Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 11. To honor and celebrate you, Mom, I will write about the tough—but oh, so rewarding— job of motherhood. This is the first in a series that I’m calling “Get off the Crazy Train”. We’re all on it. It picks up speed each day, rumbling to the place we want to get to but have no idea what it’s like or even what it’s called. It is the crazy train, and we ride not because we want to.
We’re all on it. It picks up speed each day, rumbling to the place we want to get to but have no idea what it’s like or even what it’s called. It is the crazy train, and we ride not because we want to.
As a matter of fact we hate it, but we ride because, well, everyone else we know is riding. They are there standing next to us, weaving back and forth with the same rhythm. Some are calmer; some are more anxious. But we are all there because that’s where we need to be. We think.
On the train, we awaken in the morning and start checking things off of our list. That list for most of us good, conscientious mothers looks something like this:
1. Make sure to breast feed each child until he is at least two.
2. Get him into the appropriate preschool, preferably one that will teach him colors, letters, and numbers, so that he is ready for kindergarten.
3. Don’t start him in kindergarten too early or too late because the consequences in high school could be serious.
4. Make sure he is in the fast reading group in first grade. If he isn’t, hire a tutor who will catch him up.
5. In second grade, make sure that sports, dance, and music lessons are started to help him figure out where his talents lie.
6. Volunteer as “Room Mom” for each child for at least one year; serve on the PTO Board, if at all possible.
7. When you bring snacks in for her birthday, make them beautiful: wheat, dairy, egg, and peanut-free, and of course, homemade.
8. Never pick her up when you’re wearing spandex.
9. When she hits 4th grade, make sure she is invited to sleepovers because your job is to make sure that her friends like her.
10. When she does homework, always help, review, edit and re-edit—especially from 6th grade on. Grades really count now.
11. By 6th grade, start her in two sports, arts, or musical groups each semester because your job is to uncover any talents which might take her to the Olympics or Carnegie Hall. When you find them, pour all of your resources into developing them because if you don’t, she might not get there.
12. Make sure she’s happy at all times because that’s what good moms do.
- Work hard at work and be pleasant to your coworkers.
14. Get to the gym at least four times per week for an hour.
15. Lose that last ten pounds.
16. Always buy organic foods and cook hot meals from scratch.
17. Never buy your kids meals at a fast food restaurant.
18. Spend twenty minutes saying good night to each child.
19. Spend time with your husband in the evening.
20. be nice.
Laugh if you must, but who among us doesn’t have at least most of these on our list? The truth is, we all have our lists; some of them are even longer and crazier than mine here.
You know what, Mom? This isn’t “the good life.”
Let’s take a step back and look at why we do what we do. If we are honest, most of us admit that we don’t like doing these things. In our hearts, we know that doing these things doesn’t assure us that our kids will be happy or successful.
We do them because we feel that that’s what good moms do. So I suggest that we stop.
If we asked our kids if this works, they would say no. Why? Because they don’t like living this way either. Our kids view life more simply. They want love, attention, and affection, and they want to know that we admire them for who they are—not for what they do. Any of us can give each of our kids those things. But I fear that we won’t as long as we adhere to the list we carry on the crazy train.
A Challenge for You
For this week, write down how much face-to-face time you spend with your kids. Then write down how much stuff you do during the day. If you see that you are running more than talking and not spending any time with your kids, cut something out so that you can just be with your kids. They want you, not the stuff you do for them.
So this week, if you’re still not sure about jumping, at least put your leg out and drag a foot over the edge.
Dr. Meeker is a pediatrician, who has practiced pediatric and adolescent medicine for 25 years. She is the author of six books including the best-selling Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: Ten Secrets Every Father Should Know; Boys Should Be Boys; Your Kids At Risk;, The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose and Sanity; Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: The 30 Day Challenge and Strong Mothers, Strong Sons: Lessons Mothers Need to Raise Extraordinary Men, (Ballantine) April 2014. She is a popular speaker on pediatric health issues and child-parent relationships.
Dr. Meeker is co-host and physician-in-residence of Dr.James Dobson’s Family Talk Radio. She is also Assistant Clinical Professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and currently teaches medical students and physicians in residency training. She is board certified with the American Board of Pediatrics and is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Meeker serves on the National Advisory Board of the Medical Institute. She has been married to her husband, Walter for 32 years. They have shared a medical practice for over 20 years. They have three grown daughters and a grown son. She lives in northern Michigan.