In the Court of Mommy Opinion at our bus stop, I have been judged and found wanting. I committed the unpardonable sin of making a high school freshman (gasp!) walk to school. Shocking, I know. He missed the bus for the third time in a week so I made him walk 1.62 miles to school on a sidewalk under a clear blue sky.
"But what if he is late,” cried lawyer mom.
“Then he will be late,” I said. “It’s his life. His tardiness. His detention. He will deal with it.”
Then the social worker mom informed me that my son’s synapses were not fully connected so I could not expect so much from him. “You military parents are so much tougher on your kids,” she said.
Like that was a bad thing.
Mostly, it was just a matter of available time. As a Must Have Parent, I have the same 168 hours in a week everyone else has. I just carry more of my husband’s share of the parenting because he is deployed. I cannot put the preschooler in the carseat at 6:30 a.m. and wait in the Kiss and Ride line at the high school and scramble home and get both of us to school and work on time. This system only works if the freshman uses an alarm clock to wake himself up and get to the bus on time.
That is not cruel. That is self-efficacy. Our goal is that by the time the kids are 22, they won’t need anything else from us but love and encouragement.
One of the things we’ve learned from raising our kids among miltiary families is that happiness doesn’t necessarily come from an easy life. Instead it seems to come from knowing yourself to be an effective person. To know that you can act and make things better. To know that you are a doer among doers.
That starts with an alarm clock—and a really good pair of walking shoes.