I can't believe it's July again. Six big years with The Boy. Six years of motherhood, and I'm still not sure I'm doing it right. If this were a paying job, they would have fired me by now. I am obviously not qualified, nor am I a fast learner. Which is not at all how I presented myself in the interview, because before I got the job, I thought I knew it all.
Fortunately, the boss is satisfied with my less than stellar performance. He is actually pretty easy to please, as long as I keep the hugs and stories coming. Oh, and the peanut M&Ms help, too. I'm not above bribing the boss sometimes to keep him happy. That's one of the many parenting tests that I've failed with flying colors.
Still, I fumble forward, doing the best I can every day. Fortunately, I don't have to fumble alone: Tad is a fantastic father and pulls more than his share of the parenting weight. On the days I don't do so well, I comfort myself with the idea that tomorrow is a fresh start. Even with the slightly inept job that I am doing as a parent, I appear to be raising a smart, happy child with a strong sense of self and a friendly demeanor. The Boy is loving and thoughtful, and though he has a fiery temper and can hold a grudge just like his mama, he is usually sunny and cheerful and all-around good company. He is definitely a grade-A little boy, and I am humbled and honored to have him as my son.
At this stage of the game, I am starting to accept our three-person family unit as a fact of life. Thoughts of what could have been still enter my head, but the reality is that we got a late start and then overshot the window for adding to the count. It makes me sad some days — with a boy as lovable as the one I've got, who wouldn't want another? But on good days, I am accepting that this is the family I was meant to have, and that The Boy is thriving as an only child.
Six years down the road, and he's still obsessed with robots, Legos and, most especially, Lego robots. Now that he has a few academic skills in his toolbox, he can frequently be found writing captions for comic strips about robots, or searching for Lego-robot videos online. His phonetic spelling doesn't always get him where he needs to go, but one of us is always close at hand and willing to translate.
Looking back over old journal entries and past columns, it is both amusing and thought-provoking to note how little he has changed in the past six years. He's growing both physically and cognitively, but so many of the things he likes and does seem as though they were present from the very beginning, just waiting to be expressed more fully. His taste in music, his oddball sense of humor and his fierce dislike of mornings apparently came standard with this model. I guess I can't act too surprised, since a lot of his quirks can be traced to me. (I feel compelled to point out that I do have better taste in music, though. Much better.)
As with every other birthday, his sixth is a time for me to wonder if I am doing as well as I could be by him. There are so many things I want for him: more friends, days full of enriching activities, a house that has at least one bathroom where you don't have to turn sideways to maneuver past the sink. I try to remind myself that he has the things that really matter — loving parents, food on the table and a roof over his head. He has a lot of things that don't make Maslow's hierarchy of needs, too; I don't remember seeing a spot on the pyramid for "more freaking Transformers than can possibly fit in your toy box" or "guaranteed attendance at every county or state fair within 50 miles." Those are bonuses, and I hope that they'll keep us in good stead when he's choosing our nursing home. But it's the important stuff, the character-building stuff, that keeps me up at night hoping I'm doing it right, or at least right enough.
Luckily, I've got job security. And the benefits are unbelievable. Good thing, because in spite of the stress, the doubt and the hours, there's absolutely no job I would rather do.