Thursday, April 12, 2012

Babe Ruth's got nothing on this Mom

Greetings friends, info-junkies, parents of the tech-age.
I'm not usually given to sports analogies, but being married to an extreme sports writer and the mother of two multiple-sport, youth athletes, such items are bound to pop up now and then.
"Yesterday's home runs don't win today's games" -- words of wisdom from the immortal Babe Ruth.
Like many Tiger fans who caught bits and pieces of last weekend’s season-opening series against Boston, I’d love to sock away an excess blast -- or two, or three! -- for all those low-scoring games guaranteed to cross our calendar this season.
But alas, as Ruth pointed out, banking home runs is not a part of our reality.
In our relationship with other people, however, we can and do bank “emotional” home runs all the time. Not to mention singles, doubles, pop-ups, ground-outs and double plays.   
For example, the 20 minutes you cheerfully spent scavenging for stones – “Only the round ones, Dad!”– to decorate that milk jug/turned birdfeeder with your third-grader-last weekend, can and does build compound interest into the future.   
As a full-time working mom, I worry every day that I'm not doing enough to give my kids the support and validation they need to grow into healthy, happy, caring and responsible adults. (Not to mention Hubby -- but that's a whole 'nother blog post)
This is, at least in part, because actively listening to rambling monologues, often delivered in high-pitched tones at the exact moment dinner’s coming out of the oven, every hot pad in the house has gone missing and the family dog barks to go outside – now! – isn’t easy.
Since the answer to successfully handling all-the-above is to remain wickedly calm before responding to each demand -- rambling concerns in particular – we can begin to see the past popularity of “mother’s-little-helpers.”
On Easter Sunday, before our guests arrived, my family started our day with its annual, front-yard egg hunt; followed by basket-opening, the traditional Eastern European Easter Sunday breakfast: hard-boiled eggs, kielbasa, fruit, cheese, wine and home-baked rolls, followed by a slightly bemoaned trip to church.
Later, my 8-year-old daughter and I made bunny-themed napkin rings out of paper towel rolls and tackled deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, rib-eye roast and asparagus.
After our guests left, all I wanted to do was sit on the sofa, chew ice and gaze into oblivion.
Instead, my husband and I took a brisk walk through the neighborhood. Our daughter came, too, and so did her girlfriend. Fun, invigorating, cozy.
Next, my 10-year-old son and I took in highlights of that day’s Tiger victory. Awesome.   
With bed-time upon us, all four hunkered down for a movie, our new favorite: "We bought a Zoo”. Munching popcorn, hubby and son hung out on the loveseat while I braided daughter’s hair on the sofa.
Was it enough? Will the family remember Easter 2012 as sweet and magical? Did I succeed in addressing the most important things, the emotional needs of my husband and children?
If not, hopefully, I built up enough “out-of-the-park” homeruns from interactions past.
Because positive or negative, we humans do bank an emotional history with every person we come in contact with.
So there you go, Babe Ruth. Baseball isn’t always a metaphor for life.
On the look-out for creative bonding ideas with your kids? Here are a handful of favorites from readers of
  •    “We always try to watch TV as a family....I really like to know what they are watching.  I do let them watch it on their own when I am making dinner, but it has to be something that I have watched with them previously.”
  •    “We definitely share music that we both love....I remember doing this with my mom as well”.  “To this day, I still love Kenny Rogers and Olivia Newton John... I can remember singing those songs with my mom when I was way young :)
  •    "We would give them a list of household chores to do each week. At first we thought this would have a negative effect but they soon came to compete with each other to do the best job. Of course they would earn a little treat but they knew that it wasn't guaranteed. They are now teenagers and it still works today. “
  •    "I have them help me with things we can all enjoy. Like cooking. The 12-year-old will help cook the hot things while the 4-year-old will stir things or break up lettuce for the salad. And after we are done we all get to eat what we made together :)
  • As busy Moms and Dads, what kinds of things do you do to connect with children of any age? What works? What doesn’t? And what are your biggest challenges?  

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