By Jennifer Bardsley
The other night after my kids finally drifted off to sleep, I watched the series finale of “One Tree Hill.” If you can ignore for the moment that I’m in my 30s and was watching a teen soap drama, then think about this: In the final episode one of the characters received a check in the mail for $500,000 with a note that said “What you do matters.” This really struck me, because I would love to get a note like that – with or without the money.
As a parent I’d like to think that what I do matters, but there are so many hundreds of thankless jobs I do throughout the day that sometimes it is hard to feel the love. I am always cleaning, but the house is never clean. I am always cooking, but my kids never seem to eat. I am always doing laundry, but the right dress or shirt is still in the dirty clothes hamper. I save money for this and don’t buy that, but then a new flier for summer camp comes in the mail. As a mom, I am always supplying needs by sacrificing wants. Maybe you feel like this too.
At the end of the day when you collapse down next to your preschooler trying to get her to sleep in her own bed, she never says, “I really appreciate that you made me brush my teeth tonight, Mommy!” When you skip going hiking with friends one Saturday to spend all day at your son’s wrestling tournament, your teen never says, “Kudos to you Dad, for being so selfless!”
It’s been seven years since I have been in the classroom, but as a former teacher I can tell you that what you do as a parent does matter. Of course it does! I have seen measurable academic and behavioral differences between students who were well parented and children who were not.
It is the most obvious thing in the world to know that good parenting matters. So why is it so hard to feel that you are important when you parent? Maybe it’s because sleeping on the floor next to your son’s barf-bowl and Legos all night when he is sick is a thankless job. Nobody ever sends you a bonus check in the mail for that. You as a parent don’t get a promotion or new job title when your daughter graduates from middle school. She gets the accolades; you get the stress. Parenting is a job where you will never get a raise in pay, even though you keep working harder.
I see a lot of important people in Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and Edmonds all the time. They are walking their kids to the bus stop, coaching baseball, sending PTA emails at midnight, volunteering at Scouts and pushing loaded shopping carts through Top Foods after work because they have hungry teens to feed at home. What these parents are doing matters. They are important because what they do is important.
So moms and dads, listen up! What you are doing matters, even though you don’t hear that often enough. Consider this your note in the mail. I wish I could send you some money with it.
Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at http://teachingmybabytoread.blog.com.