Someone at work asked me today if I was relieved to be done with all of the "crap" that I have had to do while raising my children. He didn't mean it in a derogatory way, he was genuinely curious about my level of participation in stuff for my kids (he also said that, if his clients had a mother like me, he would be out of a job, "No one mothers better than you mother", he said. Flatterer! Give that man a cookie!).
Our conversation got me to thinking about just how many things I participated in over the years, and, just for kicks, I tried to make a list. It was...long. In the twenty-one years that I have been a parent, I have:
-Planned and thrown 26 birthday parties, complete with themes, homemade cakes, and some form of entertainment.
-Been in charge of 24 holiday parties at the elementary school.
-Chaperoned 7 field trips, 2 of which were overnighters.
-Volunteered a year of Wednesday afternoons as a lap counter for the elementary school's lunchtime walking program.
-Hosted four Prom/Homecoming dinners.
-Cooked nine team dinners/breakfasts.
-Planned 2 continuation parties, 2 sober grad parties, 2 pre-grad parties, and 7 end-of-school-year slip'n'slide parties.
-Attended more award assemblies, concerts, games, parent/teacher conferences, science fairs, back-to-school nights, fall sports meetings, winter sports meetings, TCAP conferences, and ILP meetings than I can count.
-Had the privilege of photographing parties, proms, homecoming parades, sporting events, car washes, dodgeball tournaments, Jump-Rope-for-Heart jumpathons, Cub Scout awards assemblies, downhill derby races, Pinecar Derbies, and powderpuff football games.
And, those are just the school events.
It seems like a lot, but, it all went by so fast, it's almost a blur. One thing I know for certain: I would not have missed a second of any of it. Being an involved parent was something I aspired to from the moment the little plus sign popped up in the window of that first home pregnancy test; I am fortunate to have had the flexibility in my jobs to be able to reach that aspiration and I will always be grateful for the opportunities that I was given. That's the biggest reason that I have taken so many pictures of other people's kids over the years; I know that not all of their parents were fortunate enough to be present for their activities and I wanted to help them feel included. I've had several people thank me for that effort this week.
So, to my co-worker I have to say, no, I don't feel relieved to be done; I'll miss it like crazy.
I also have not a single regret; I was there for my kids. I was present. I wasn't doing "crap" for them, I was parenting. Thank you, Lord, for the blessing in that.
*Bonus points if you can name the movie featuring a character who had a tattoo of the mispelled motto in the title of this post.