Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Perils of Scorecard Parenting

This was not our best morning. My little early birds were all up with their Daddy at 6am, as per usual. The trouble is, when he left for work they went downstairs & in the true spirit of my hibernation I snuggled back under the covers for a snooze.

I suppose I was finally roused by the fact that it was a little brighter than usual in my bedroom. My eyes managed to focus on the clock long enough to read 7:30. School starts at 8.

I scrambled out of bed, already flogging myself for being a lazy housewife. What kind of mother does this? The Proverbs 31 woman rose before dawn. Yet another way I am inadequate. This is your job, woman. Get up and get to it! I started my day by giving myself a lecture and a motherhood demerit. Bad Mom -1

As I dashed downstairs to rally the kids, I found them sitting in front of the television fully dressed (except jackets & shoes). I am raising responsible children! A small victory. Good Mom +1

Then I realized only one had actually eaten breakfast. My poor, hungry children. Irresponsible Mom -1

I snapped them to attention with a flustered tone (even though it was ME I was frustrated with, not them) and rushed them through gathering their things and getting to the car. Impatient Mom -1

We managed to make it to school on time (Good Mom +1), but only because I fed my boys breakfast at a drive through on the way (Unhealthy Mom -1).

As I drove away from school, still groggy, I replayed the morning and noticed how I was sizing myself up according to this mental scorecard. When I averaged out all my pluses and minuses I ended up right back at zero where I had began.

I posted something about it on facebook and found LOTS of people in my boat, confessing that they too play this bad mom/good mom game. Lest we beat ourselves up too much, it is a sign that we care. We take our roles seriously enough to pay attention and strive to do well with what we have been entrusted. But sometimes it can become a way of tripping ourselves up, taking our eyes off of the big picture by focusing them on ourselves instead.

As I reflected I realized I do it in other areas of my life a spouse, as a friend, as a volunteer. (Don't worry I am not keeping score on any of you, I am entirely too consumed with my own scorecard for that. Cringe.) I spent some time praying this morning about getting out of this cycle.

Over dirty dishes midmorning, I was taken back to my short stint in the brokerage business when we lived in Virginia. I sat at the front desk with two large screens that followed the market from 9-4 every day.  The company symbols were red when they were down and green when they were up.  I was mesmerized by the movement. The only thing constant was that these numbers were changing all the time.

Every now and then when things were particularly slow in the office I would pick a stock to follow for the day. Luckily we didn't have the means to actually invest in any of these positions because just watching them throughout the day was enough to stress me out! And I noticed something...although many of these positions generally started and ended in relatively the same place, there could be huge fluctuation during the day. Watching moment by moment was exhausting. If you pulled a daily line graph it looked frantic, but usually converting to a monthly or annual one brought a much more consistent picture. The overall trends were what really mattered.

And so this morning I was left asking myself if I was going to be a day trading kind of parent or one who was willing to stomach short term fluctuations because I was in it for the distance. I don't want to ride the roller coaster of circumstances and bad moods. I want to have a longer range view that allows things to settle into a proper perspective.

Parenting and marriages are long term investments. These relationships will have their high points and their low ones...but we must remain committed to the overall trends not the momentary spikes and dives.

We should certainly be paying attention, but one bad morning won't crush us, any more than one good afternoon will redeem weeks of neglect.

No doubt, in investing financially AND relationally, steady plodding is the most effective strategy.

1 comment:

"The Mrs." said...

I love the way you write and it's always so true to my daily life! Keep your head are an inspiration to many!