I think a lot of mothers (myself included) put too much pressure on themselves to be supermoms. It’s as if we’re under the impression that, just because we gave birth to these developing sprouts, we are somehow obligated to entertain them at all times, to keep them moving at a breakneck pace so they aren’t bored (heaven forbid!) and so we can take full advantage of every possible teachable moment.
Similarly, I think some moms (myself included) worry that if they lean back in the recliner with a book instead of working on a craft project or flipping flashcards or kicking a soccer ball, they are neglecting their children in favor of indulging in selfish laziness. Why do we think that way? Isn’t reading a good thing?
As parents, we all strive to be effective role models for our children. We keep our houses tidy in the hopes that our children will clean their rooms. We censor our language so our children won’t curse like sailors (military pun intended). We eat our broccoli so our children won’t argue when we implore them to eat their veggies. But shouldn’t we be modeling the fine art of reading as well?
Today I set out to do just that.
At the start of the day, I envisioned a quiet afternoon during which my cooperative children cozied into their bean bag chairs next to me on the sofa, all 3 of us engrossed in a good book. Well, that didn’t happen. But something else surprisingly pleasant did happen.
I parked myself on the couch with my book as planned, but Big C said he wanted to play with his new birthday toys, and Little C was busy with her Play Doh mess. Against all of my supermom instincts to get on the floor and engage them in one teachable moment or another, I stayed put on the couch and read my book. Well, wouldn't you know it, MY CHILDREN STOPPED FIGHTING. They played quietly, independently, and creatively all on their own and all in the same room as each other. Pigs were flying and hell was freezing.
I don’t have a clue as to why the simple act of my taking a little break out of the day for some quiet reading time inspired the kids to refrain from trying to kill one another. I also don’t know exactly what I was modeling. Was I modeling the joy of reading? The ability to enjoy one's own company? The rejuvenating qualities of down time in a world of manic schedules? I truly don’t know, but whatever it was that those little brains processed had to be a good thing. As it turns out, I didn't need to get down on the floor and search for teachable moments. The simple act of reading a book was a teachable moment in and of itself.
Guess what Little C was doing tonight instead of sleeping.