The (Un) Enthusiastic Mom

Photo Courtesy: Berkeley.edu

Ten years ago I had a quote on my cork board in my home office. It read: “Be the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.” One of my friends spotted it one day and laughed, “That’s you alright.” At the time, I was also reading the book, The Power of a Positive Mom. 

I was the annoying sort back then – happy in the early mornings and purposefully positive, even with difficult people. I was high energy, outside each day doing something active with my kids (after the house was organized and a few loads of laundry were done). We painted, drew on sidewalks, were regulars at the library, created homemade solar systems, and hung the entire Milky Way Galaxy from our dining room ceiling. We played hard, laughed often and never missed “free admission dates” at local museums. Whenever I’d discuss my daily explorations with other Moms who either worked part time like me, or didn’t work outside the home, they’d quip, “I can’t even get into the shower by 9am. How are you accomplishing so much with your kids?!”

The answer? Enthusiasm. Or, should I say, “Enthusiasm!!!” I viewed raising my children as my primary career and I was fervent about being attentive and engaged.  Fortunately, my “job” was also my greatest “joy”. For the most part, being positive throughout those days was easy. Even when the kids were defiant, they were adorable, instantly remorseful, and all was forgotten within minutes.

The years flew by, family life naturally altered and I’ve slipped into an ordered existence, full of routine, raising teenagers. I often feel what I feared most as a young Mom: unenthusiastic.

Let’s face it: defiance at 16 is not adorable, nor is it followed by instant remorse. Smart-aleck comments make it very difficult to feel “joy” in the “job”. Doing three loads of laundry before 8am does not give me the same satisfaction it did when the kids were in grade school. Homework has sadly replaced board game time, and library visits have been traded for sports practices. Even though I’m still vigilant about family dinner time, I’m not “enthusiastic” while preparing it!

I’m in the season where inappropriate teachers, disturbing school assemblies, rude people, and the world condition at large have sapped my enthusiasm. Teenage nonsense just adds to the already zapped pot of zeal. This waning enthusiasm was on my mind recently, and guilt was rising up about my lack of “yeeee haaawww” at 6:15am when I’m making my 3,289th peanut butter and jelly sandwich for school lunches. No longer the “joyful annoying sort” in the early mornings, I’m tired while searching for the last can of tuna in the pantry. I am also admittedly maybe a little… bored of the routine.

Nonetheless, I can’t stop running this life and parenting race without at least trying to be upbeat. Consequently, being aware of my recent lack-of-enthusiasm has prompted me to once again, purposefully watch for the daily joys that used to somehow just pop out at me. This is not only good practice while raising teenagers, but I will also need to muster up some gusto as I venture into the college years ahead. Who can re-invent the next part of their life with a sour attitude, worn out from years past?

This quote got me thinking: EnthusiasmQuoteI couldn’t help but relate it to parenting: if my kids are going to be great (whatever that will mean for them individually), I need to maintain enthusiasm while raising them (no self-imposed pressure here). If my family dynamic is going to be great (loving, fun, accepting), then, it needs to start with me. If I’m not enthusiastic about my responsibilities during this season, how can I expect my kids to bring joy into their work…into their relationships? They mirror me.  

Gosh, doesn’t it always come down to being a role model for them? Again, no pressure ;-).

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13 thoughts on “The (Un) Enthusiastic Mom

  1. Wendy Tomlinson says:

    Brilliant. I read your post with interest and could relate to the changes. Although for me it’s been easier as my child has got older and now in my 40’s I’m much happier with myself and life compared to when my son was small. We all need reminders now and then.

    Best wishes

    Wendy

    P.S. Love the dog pic at the end, made my laugh x

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  2. Stephanie Romero says:

    Wow, could I relate to this! You spoke something of what I’ve been feeling but hadn’t been able to put a finger on. But it also reminded me to strive for more of that enthusiasm I used to have in parenting. Thanks for a great blog!

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  3. Ellen L'Italien says:

    I love your honesty! And I know how you feel. It’s just a different stage — parenting teens. They trust that we’ll love them unconditionally and we do (despite the occasional rudeness/eye rolling). You’re right that we have to be good role models but we aren’t perfect. No one is. I think that if our kids stayed super sweet and obliging right through the teen years, they would never separate from us! (This is what I tell myself as my daughter approaches high school graduation and will be going to college in the fall). You sound like an awesome mother. How lucky are your children? : )

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  4. covenantheirs says:

    Winter blues? For me, too. However, I’m in the season of grandparenting, which has helped to keep me enthused with the simplicity of life–chasing after my 2 1/2 year-old granddaughter as she dashed outside with our dog in frigid temps just to play on our swing set, and fixing a meal for our whole clan (6 grandkids and their parents) every Tuesday evening has brought back a few of the great memories of raising our own kids. I think it’s true….kids help us to stay young (well, most of the time!). Just wait…after the college years…marriage and grandbabies. More enthusiasm coming your way!

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    • Family to the 5 Power! says:

      There is always something to be enthusiastic about, right? 🙂 You must have been running fast after your granddaughter as she ran outside to the swing set in frigid temps! It’s been too cold for the kids to even play outside this month in the northeast. We have been below zero or in the single digits for the last two weeks, and -20 below wind chills. It feels like my kids have hardly attended school since Christmas break!

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