Childrearing

SAHM No More: My Son’s Teacher Called Me Out On Not ‘Communicating’ Better About Homework

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First, the reality that my son hadn’t been handing in his work was shocking to me, if only because it was completely unlike him. But equally as bad was the implicit—actually, no—the explicit accusations that I wasn’t doing my job as a parent. That’s not true! I wanted to yell at the computer. I am doing the best that I can. But what if my best wasn’t good enough? Why, when I wasn’t even the one in trouble at school, did I feel like crying? I felt terrible. Was I not checking my son’s work enough? Had I been missing any red flags?

I asked myself accusatory question after accusatory question, blaming myself for pursuing my own dreams at the cost of my children’s future. What I’m trying to say is, I went to a pretty dark place before realizing that I was tormenting myself and I hadn’t even talked to my son yet. I called him away from the book he was reading and asked him why he hadn’t been turning in his science work.

The look of misery on his face as he tried to explain to me how overwhelmed he felt as he adjusted to his new school and that he’d been doing the best he could and that he’d try to do better, well, it flat out broke my heart. We had a long talk about how he could organize his schoolwork in a more effective way and promised each other to stay more on top of what he needed to do. But in the moments that I saw how hurt he was that even though he was trying his best to navigate a new and strange world, it still wasn’t good enough, I realized how similar his situation was to my own.

But it helped me to make a renewed promise to my son, to let him know that I would be there to help him get through the adjustment period in his new environment any way that I could. It’s not that I’d intentionally forgotten to do that, but it can be so easy to get overwhelmed and to think that everything will be just fine.

As for the teacher who suggested that I learn to “communicate better with my son,” I overrode the urge to write him a strongly worded letter about his own lack of communication skills and decided to move forward and just focus on my son’s needs. I can accept that some people will make judgments based situations that they know nothing about, and I can accept that I’m not the perfect parent. Now I can just remember to keep the promise to my son and make sure that he thrives with the support that he needs from me, until he can do it all on his own. Even then, of course, I’ll be there. I might not be able to have it all, but I will try with everything I’ve got to make sure my kids can come close to having everything they need.

(photo: Vitaly Korovin/ Shutterstock)

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