by Lisa M. Roberts
- It's "Birthday Week" at the
Roberts Household and I am presently immersed in milestones.
My oldest child, Jessica, is turning twelve this coming weekend
and my oldest son, William, just turned nine this past weekend.
Along with my daughter's birthday I am reminded that it has been
twelve years since I've been working at home. And since two out
of four kid-made Mother's Day cards on Sunday featured drawings
of a computer and keyboard, I'm also reminded that everything
I do and say in my children's sight is being examined, processed
and ultimately judged by each and every one of them. (That's
a lot of pressure for one parent to take, wouldn't you say?)
- Another milestone this week
involves an unusual field trip my daughter is on. Her entire
Middle School sixth grade class left for upstate New York early
Monday morning to experience "Nature's Classroom"...until
Friday! For an entire week, she will be learning about nature
through hands-on experiences in the lovely Adirondaks. Since
my husband and I have never sent her away to sleepover camp,
this is a turning point for all of us.
- To make the separation anxiety
sharper, all parents are instructed not to telephone their children
unless there's an emergency. While we understand this is to keep
the phone lines clear and distractions/interruptions down to
a minimum, it did make the "Have a wonderful time -- don't
worry about anything" harder to get out before she boarded
the school bus.
- But as always, there's a window
of opportunity every time we're thrust outside our personal comfort
zones. For Jessica, the opportunity is to learn about the great
outdoors at the same time she begins to explore the world outside
her parents' perspective. For five days, she will have no parental
commentary on *anything* she experiences, nor will she internalize
anything she witnesses from her parents' role modeling. This
extended break from her parents' physical presence right before
she turns twelve years old may turn her "separation anxiety"
into some much-needed "separation relief."
- In the meantime, I still personally
feel like I'm under the microscope with the remaining children
at home. My son William's Mother's Day card is a case in point.
In it, he features a picture of a big heart and a small head,
- "Dear Mom,
- Remember what you told me.
No matter how big your brain is,
your heart has to be bigger.
Happy mother's day.
I hope you have a good one.
I love you.
- P.S. SQUIRTLE!!!!!!!!!!!!"
- (FYI, William is a "Pokemon"
fan whose favorite super-monster is a character called "Squirtle."
If any of you happen to have a son under 10 years old, you probably
know what I'm talking about! "Squirtle" has grown to
become my son's "Happy Thought." For instance, he asked
the baker to draw one on his b-day cake, and whenever he wants
a hug from me, that's been the "password" of late...)
- William's card struck me as
poignant for a number of reasons. First off, he clearly processed
the message I was trying to get across after the Littleton, Colorado
tragedy -- that a bright brain with a dim heart was a dangerous
combination. Like Hitler, Scrooge and the Grinch Who Stole Christmas,
the students who planned that massacre lost their hearts in pursuit
of their "master minds"...and William, who happens
to have a bright mind (and thankfully a bright heart!) himself,
must be heeding my words.
- Secondly, the rest of the card
sends me the message that in his eyes, my work is full of love
and "happy thoughts." The cover of the card has a clip-art
picture of a computer system, with the character of "Squirtle"
hand-drawn on the monitor screen, and the words "Happy/Squirtle/Mother's
Day!" typed underneath. There's a cable drawn in marker
from the computer on the outside of the card to a hand-drawn
printer on the inside of the card. Inside, the words "The
Magical Printer" is scrawled in blue marker above the printer,
which is surrounded by three page printouts -- two of bright
red hearts and one of a blue-green "Squirtle."
- While I am not schooled in analyzing
children's drawings, I can't help but open this card and hear
the words "I'm watching you!" written all over it,
and the message "I'm OK, You're OK" shining through
too. Between the integration of love and work on the one side,
and the large heart overriding the small brain on the other side,
he sees what I do (work at home) and hears what I say (about
current events) and repeats after me. He "gets it"...at
least for now.
- It's "Birthday Week"
at the Roberts Household and I am presently immersed in heavy
thoughts. (I guess that's why they're called mile stones?)
I know I should "lighten up" -- especially with all
this fresh Spring air around me -- but that microscope lense
feels awfully heavy and frankly too close for comfort. But what
can I do? I also know without a doubt that "separation relief"
is around the corner for all of us, and when it comes I am certain
it will come too soon.
- Lisa Roberts is the mother of four,
owner of The
Entrepreneurial Parent, LLC and the author of How to Raise A Family &
A Career Under One Roof: A Parent's Guide to Home Business
(Bookhaven Press, 1997). Copies of her book are available for
purchase at EP