As far as my eight-year-old is concerned, we're past the stage in our relationship where I can do no wrong. I am no longer met after work with squeals of glee and arms flung around my neck in an affectionate cling. She can go hours now without even acknowledging my existence. And the last time I was called "the best mom in the world" was when I offered to order pizza for dinner.
That's okay, I guess. But I do find myself taking on tasks that reassure me I am – if not "the best" – at least a good mom.
For example, there was the morning of picture day at her new school when I twisted a chunk of her hair into a funky braid, and she told me later that all the girls had admired her hair and asked her how it was done. Good mom.
There was the "summer reading club" I invented for her after she'd completed the official reading club program at the library within a matter of weeks. We made a chart on poster board with a maze of squares to color in for each 15 minutes of reading. Some of the squares were "prize" squares, with a big reward (a trip to the book store) at the end. Like I need to encourage the little bookworm to read... it felt like rewarding her with candy for finishing her cake. But still. It was a good mom moment.
I've recently taken on my most ambitious good mom project yet. I am making her Halloween costume. Not just cutting eye-holes in a sheet to make a ghost, not stacking two boxes together to make a robot. No, daughter wants to be Glinda from the Wizard of Oz. And so a Glinda costume I will create.
We took a trip to the fabric store and collected a sewing pattern, fabric, thread, pins, zippers, sequins, and bobbins.
As we stood in line with our arms full of ivory taffeta and tulle that would eventually become something resembling a gorgeous, princess-esque dress worthy of the Good Witch herself, a lady in line behind us said to Daughter, "What are you making?"
Daughter, dutifully polite, replied, "My Halloween costume, Glinda."
"Oh!" said the nice lady. "So your mommy is probably going to teach you to sew! I wish I knew how to sew."
That's when the panic attack set in. "Know HOW to sew?" I said to myself. "TEACH? You mean there's a skill involved that I should have mastered with proficiency enough to pass on to my offspring? It's not just sticking a bunch of fabric together?"
I should note that I am not a total sewing novice. I own a sewing machine and have in the past made things from patterns. However, I should also note that the sewing machine was given to me on my eleventh birthday, and that the last article of clothing I ever successfully completed was a fuzzy pair of pajamas for my Cabbage Patch Kid.
But as soon as words were out of the lady's mouth, Daughter looked up at me with a strange smile. Faith. She believed in me. I'd told her we could do this, and she believed we could.
After sitting the little prodigy down at the machine and teaching her to sew a straight line, I watched her turn out a quite respectable-looking pillowcase with our scrap fabric. She showed it to Dad and explained, "Mom taught me to sew!"
So maybe she'll never tell me I'm the best mom in the world when the costume is finished. It doesn't matter. Daughter has a new pillowcase and a new skill. I found out that my sewing machine does more than take up pants and repair rips. And we found something we like to do together.
I just hope Glinda will forgive the slightly bunched gathers and uneven hems…