Academic success does not necessarily prepare one for motherhood.
Let me explain.
I am a firm believer that there is a difference between book smarts and street smarts. Academic learning and common sense; knowledge and wisdom. Each is valuable in its own way, and not all folks are created equal when it comes to any of the above. I’d like to think that I have a good balance of book smarts and street smarts, and just enough common sense to make me dangerous. But my true strength is traditional academic learning. I’m a nerd, a geek, bookworm, teacher’s pet. You name it, I’ve been called it and have LOVED every minute of it.
I find comfort in the binary options of traditional academia. An answer is right or wrong. Period. 1+1=2, not 4. You study hard, go in for extra help, get an A on the test and move on to the next subject. True, as you progress on to high school, college and beyond there is more subjectivity in certain subjects (essay questions, for example), but there is a still a process – a certain combination of logic, syntax and order that the professor looks for to determine your letter grade. I like clear directions, easily measurable goals, black and white answers.
And then I became a mom.
It hit me on the way back from gymnastics this weekend. The teacher let me know that Angel only got 3 stamps (instead of 4) because he was not following directions during the parachute activity (I was changing Victor’s pamper, so I didn’t see him through the window). She told me that, while his skills were very strong and he did a great job in the smaller group stations, he tended to wander during larger group activities. This, of course, was nothing new to me, but I was hoping that it was just a phase that he would magically emerge from. Like, tomorrow. Driving to lunch, I realized that I longed for someone – anyone – to give me the answer. Who could I call to give me the process to get my son to follow directions? What book could give me the answer? What expert could guide my way, because clearly I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.
But, there is no quick fix. No easy answer. No parenting guru with a solution for all that ails you. No once-size-fits-all-approach. The difference between parenting and school is that you have to figure out most of the answers on your own. Sure, you can get advice from books, parenting magazines and other moms, but at the end of the day no one knows your family better than you do. What worked for others may not fit your child’s particular temperament or your unique family situation. You gotta roll with the punches and figure it out as you go.
Well, that sucks.
I’m still holding out hope that someone – ANYONE – will pass me a note with the answer when the teacher’s not looking…