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Monday, June 5, 2023

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Mother (Doesn’t Always) Know Best

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Entering the middle school auditorium to attend my daughter’s first band concert, I felt dread. The bleats and honks coming from Laura’s clarinet recently had not been encouraging. I was sure the next 45 minutes would be painful.

Maybe I should have paused before I judged, and remembered the many times I’ve been wrong about what I will and won’t enjoy about motherhood. For example, I was once sure I’d love doing crafts with my toddler, exploring parks with my preschooler, reading stories out loud and cooking nutritious dinners for an appreciative family. Conversely, I was positive I would hate organized sports where parents had to sit on the sidelines and feign interest in what the kids were doing. A few weeks into motherhood, as I paced the house on another broiling summer day, holding squalling baby Laura, I thought, “This is awful! There are no stories! It’s too hot to go outside! Was I wrong about…everything?”

Not everything. But almost.

Crafts? Please! I wasn’t crafty before kids, why did I think some creative gene would appear once I had them?

Stories? When I picked it was sweet. When they chose the same oh-please-not-again Maisy or Dr. Seuss book for the 300th time…it became torture.

Dinners? The fact that I only like to eat about 10 items and can only cook about five meals means, I’m a boring and unoriginal cook. No one enjoys my meager culinary efforts.

Sports? I was wrong about sports. I love cheering my kids on!

The parks? I was right for once! But overall, I should know better than to believe I possess any sort of radar concerning what I’ll enjoy as a mother.

Back to the concert. There I was, dreading what was coming: pimply, awkward middle schoolers painfully squawking through an unidentifiable repertoire. Then the lights dimmed and the curtain rose; I heard recognizable music. I sat up straighter. Oh, wait. This was the 7th and 8th grade band. They had some skill. Laura was in 6th grade, so their part came next. Those ugly-duckling sixth graders had undeniable grace. They were dressed up! You couldn’t see their acne and they weren’t a bit awkward as they played. They were…beautiful. And the music was good! They were doing this thing and doing a fine job!
I don’t usually like being wrong. But I’ve never been happier to be wrong than I was at the middle school band performance.

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