The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Too Much Homework, Not Enough Childhood

My eight-year old is clearly overwhelmed.

I sit in front of the computer listening to, and striving to maintain, some level of empathy for my daughter’s crying jag. But I realize that it’s the byproduct of a life-long collision course in self-discipline. She lies on her bed at once pouting and sobbing.

“I’d rather spend the whole day in bed than do this project!”

And how best do you respond to a third grader who bemoans the fact that she can’t spend her Sunday afternoon shopping with Dad because her first real research project is due in two days? You talk to her. You show her how. You convince her to take the reigns of her own self and break the task into smaller pieces. It’s fun! I used to LOVE homework!

But the yelling and lecture fail. She’s still in uncontrollable tears. I dig for the empathy. (Dig, dig, dig…)

I come from the ethic that you must be responsible and finish your work. Do it the right way, before having fun. And it wasn’t until the freedom of college that I had any sense of option about the matter. It is in this practical mode that I commit the heinous act of erasing a sentence at the end of her report so that she could write more and be factually correct.

She now comes completely unglued. I have to take a step back and be human, not Mom. Not a scholar. Do you remember third grade? After my family moved to Washington D.C., in the sixth grade, I clearly remember being overburdened by school. Arkansas elementary schools hadn’t even required a research project, but once I enrolled in a prep school, there were moments I went crazy from the pressure. The amount of work we’d cram into three to four hours every night seemed relentless.

The top mark, grade A, was rare to come by. B+s were more common. Mother helped me study until she gave it up for her own labors in law school. And I seemed to get the hang of things better once I became more familiar with the study process in general and less naïve about the teacher’s expectations.

I do remember Mom’s sense of empathy and compassion one night. She said, “Lauren, I don’t know how you’re going to get through all this!” Followed by, “You can do it. I know you can.” We had the first quarter of medieval history laid out on the dining room table and an exam the next day. It seems, in retrospect, as if she were saying the same doubt/little cheer to herself, the young, self-conscious wife of a newly-elected official.

My daughter, Lilia, and I popped some popcorn and eventually revisited the table where the project lay in all its vexatious glory. We came up with a plan for the next step and I apologized profusely for erasing her sentence.

Then I said, “You can do it. I know you can.”

By Lauren Cargill

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This made me smile big. Very nicely done. Laura-Lynne
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