Hypergraphia is a condition that causes people to transcribe their thoughts uncontrollably. I don't suffer from it in the clinical sense, but I may be borderline. My blog is the cyber-wall where I spray paint my thoughts for all to see. By the way, if you came here directly through blogger --if your page has no yellow frames and no pretty pic of me in the top left corner -- you may want to visit my main site at www.hypergraffiti.com, where you can read this blog and much much more.


I'm Trudy Morgan-Cole, a writer from St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. My books include "The Violent Friendship of Esther Johnson," "Esther: A Story of Courage," and "Deborah and Barak." I'm also a married mom of two, a teacher in an adult-ed program, and a Christian of the Seventh-day Adventist kind. I blog about writing, reading, parenting, teaching, spirituality, and shiny things that catch my eye.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mommy Olympics: The Qualifying Heats

Part of my parenting philosophy is to try not to view motherhood as a competitive sport. I know there are moms who complain about other moms competing in the "Mommy Olympics," going above and beyond the call of duty to do all sorts of extras with their offspring that make the rest of us feel inferior.

My attitude is that we are all going to excel in some areas of parenting, because we all have things we do well and enjoy. So if someone else is a little more into doing crafts with their kids, I try to remember that I probably read more books with my kids, and it all balances out. I try not to find other parents' accomplishments threatening, and assume that no-one is threatened my mine.

It's unlikely anyone is threatened by me. Most of the time, I'm doing well to keep up with the basics of parenting, much less the competitive events. This is especially true since I went back to work and the kids started school. I think of myself as a well-organized person -- at work I'm almost fanatically organized -- but my organization skills are not up to the task of having two children in elementary school. I write everything down, but even then it's a challenge to keep up with which homework is due on what day, which papers I have to sign and send back, what milk money they have to bring, which days are school lunch days, which days are pizza, which are ice cream, and what I have to pack for each. Not to mention the clothing issues attached to gym days and swim days. Any morning my kids go out the door with the right homework, money and attire is a gold-medal day in my books.

But just to keep us parents on our toes, schools like to throw in some extra-special themes and projects. This week we had lots and lots of special events. It is, of course, Valentine's Day on Wednesday, which means child-signed Valentine cards for each kid in the class. Here is one area where I do find Mommy-Olympic resentment creeping in a little, because I know my children will come home tomorrow with not just a bagful of Valentine cards, but also three or four little extras--candies or cookies or little bags of treats wrapped in pink lace with ribbons -- from moms who just had to go that extra mile. Each little foil-wrapped chocolate seems like a silent reproach: "What, you only sent them with cards?"

Of course it's not enough that it's Valentine's, oh no. It's also Teacher Appreciation Week; parents were encouraged to bring desserts to school for teachers to enjoy in the staffroom. The lower grades also celebrate the 100th day of school, which falls right before Valentine's Day. This year Emma's class had to fill out a booklet about the number 100, and each child had to make a poster of 100 objects (we did macaroni, and Emma, of her own volition, wrote a little poem to go inside a macaroni frame -- which some other mother might interpret as being over-the-top on my part, but it was entirely her idea). Finally, there was an optional activity -- children could decorate a 100th-day themed T-shirt.

Normally anything "optional" falls right off my radar. This time, however, by an incredible freak of nature that had nothing to do with any awareness on my part, I had in my possession not only a plain white child's T-shirt, but also two packages of fabric markers. So last night Emma and I sat down and decorated a T-shirt, and while she did the lion's share of the work I made a batch of brownies to send to school

She was quite proud of her T-shirt and looked extremely cute in it. It was probably my one and only time ever qualifying for an event in the Mommy Olympics, and I'd like to say that I followed my principles and put aside all envy and competitiveness from within my heart, and just delighted in my child and her happiness. But I am shamed to tell you that when I brought her to school I looked around -- I did -- to see how many other first-graders had home-decorated 100th Day T-shirts! Because, of course, I had to know how many other Mommies were as good as I was.

Oh, all right, since you asked. She was one of three. And I think her shirt was the best. But you know, that's just my humble, entirely uncompetitive opinion.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

She looks great! What a cutie!

Lori M

12:58 AM  
Anonymous Heather Patey said...

I hear you on the competition thing. If we feel like doing extra work (and it _is_ work) for special activities, then well and good, but otherwise my kids have been led to expect only the basics.

Eleanor had fun with the 100-day thing too, but it was somewhat lower-key than yours. They had to bring a ziplock bag of 100 things - we chose beans, and she counted 'em herself. (I heard from other-school parents who had to make posters. Erk. I was tempted to send her with two rolls of pennies.)

As for Valentine's Day, one batch of cookies - plain ol' chocolate chip - did it for Valentine's and Teacher Days all together. Bless her teacher for not only sending home the full class name list for the Valentines but to give us the option of filling them out ourselves ("printing, please, so the kids can read them") or getting the kids to print them. Our troopers did their own printing and we did the folding and stickering, but in a pinch I'm glad not to be marked down for just getting it done.

Oh, and Happy Teacher-Appreciation-Week to you too!

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Katrina Stonoff said...

I sent my children in with only cards too. I was in my son's classroom yesterday, though, and peeked into one of the bags. There was a cellophane bag with hearts, filled with candy and what-not, the kind of "treat bag" I put together once or twice in a child's life, for a birthday party.

So that Mommy wins the Gold. And I think to myself, "Get a life, girl!"

Emma's shirt is TOTALLY adorable though! I can't imagine anyone else's even came close. Congrats, Gold Medal Mommy (who also has a life)!

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Ruth said...

That is the cutest shirt! How much of the did Emma do? I'm impressed by all you do because I was never even able to pass muster in the Mommy Special Olympics.

7:16 PM  
Blogger TrudyJ said...

Thanks for the nice comments everyone! Emma really did most of the shirt herself -- I wrote the words and the big "100" outline, and she did all the colouring and drawings. She's much more creative than her mom -- when her time comes I think she will be a competitor in the Mommy Olympics for sure!

Have to confess that after writing this post and feeling good that I had gotten halfway through this complicated week and managed to keep track of everything -- today I got a call from Emma's teacher. They had swimming lessons and I had sent her off with her swimsuit on under her clothes, her towel and goggles in a bag -- and NO DRY UNDERWEAR to change into.

Yes, even the Mommy Special Olympics would be a challenge for me!

9:18 PM  
Blogger Tina Chaulk said...

Sam is not even in school yet and I'm already dealing with this. At his playgroup party yesterday there were those chocolatey extras in his bag of valentines and I felt that same sense of insecurity that I hadn't done enough and resentment for those who went that extra mile.

I have already accepted that I am not "that kind of mother". But I make up cool stories about dragons and other worlds and like playing with toy cars. So far, that's been enough for my guy.

Heather, I love the two rolls of pennies idea.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

So far we haven't competed much. For one, I'm disqualified from the Mommy Olympics by being a daddy.

Luckily 1 of 4 (I'll call them by their Borg names here from now on) has some kind of freakish, ambitious motivational personality. I remember the week before she started Grade 2 she said, "Daddy, can you write out some math problems so I can practice before school starts?" My wife and I just looked at each other to say, "Where did we GET this kid? Is she even ours?!"

I'm sure Trudy remembers my own lack of studying skills...

Several of my children came back with candies and what-not attached to their Valentines. And yes, we only sent cards, and yes, we made the kids do them all themselves. Secretly, I'm glad when other parents send candy home with my kid, if I can get a hold of any.

12:34 AM  

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