I guess there’s good sides and bad sides to being considered the cool mom. All the kids in the neighborhood that I’ve met so far really like me. They think I’m the greatest mom in the park. On a good side, that means they listen to me and are pretty respectful. They don’t cause me too many problems for me and I only have to ask them to do something once. This really makes my life easier since I see a lot of the neighborhood kids.
Unfortunately, being the cool mom is also coming with another cost. The neighborhood kids, two in particular, always want to be over here. It’s great that Corde’s got friends to play with and all. The younger of the sisters likes to hang out with Beekee too. I just wish I didn’t have to be the neighborhood mom.
I know this will probably make me sound unkind, but it would be less of a problem if I actually liked all the neighborhood kids. One of the girls that I’ve gotten to know a bit is really nice, kind and friendly. I really like her. If only she was over more often. Instead it’s the two sisters that seem to think that they’ve always got to be playing here and their mom doesn’t seem to care.
That’s just kind of how things are in the trailer park. Kids gravitate towards my house because I’m a mom that actually pays attention. Everyone sends their kids out to play and tells them they’re not allowed to bring their friends in the house for this reason or that, then they all come over here. Because I do let the kids play in the house, they all want to be over here to play with my kids’ toys. It’s hot outside, so I can’t blame them for wanting to come in. At the same time, it’s a huge burden on me.
It’s frustrating because I feel like I have to be babysitter to the whole neighborhood, these girls in particular. I’m the only parent that expects her children to check in when they’re running around the neighborhood. I want my children to let me know if they’ll be at a friend’s house or at the park. I don’t feel comfortable having my 5 and 9 year old running crazy around the neighborhood without knowing where they’re going to be, and Beekee doesn’t even leave the lot unless he’s going to be staying with Corde the whole time. It’s not that I’m expecting her to babysit her brother, but as long as he’s with an older kid, if there’s an emergency, someone’s old enough and responsible enough to come get me. So far we’ve only had to deal with one minor emergency, a kid stuck in a tree, but again, I was the parent that was told because I’m the one everyone goes to.
I’m not entirely complaining here. I don’t mind making sure the kids are safe, even the kids aren’t all mine. I don’t mind having the kids in the house most days, as long as they’re respectful and don’t drive me too nuts. They need to be quiet when the Luca and Sander are sleeping. That’s just a courtesy thing. The little ones get cranky when they can’t get the sleep they need. Who can blame them? Little kids need sleep when they’re tired! I’d also rather know the neighborhood kids are safe than to have them running around completely unattended, even though they aren’t my responsibility.
Sadly, kids aren’t always respectful. We’ve had kids over who have destroyed my kids’ toys. They’ve gotten into the kitty litter and thrown it all over the house, both the clean stuff and the stuff straight from the cat box. We’ve had kids beat on my boys because they don’t get their way, or throw things at everyone, including me. Kids have drawn on our porch with highlighters and ruined and wasted my kids’ craft supplies. What’s worse is their parents just don’t seem to care.
It’s gotten challenging for us. I’d love to have the neighborhood kids over to play whenever they want, but it can often end with meaning extra expenses for me or with my kids getting upset because things that belong to them are broken or missing. When you don’t have a lot of money to work with it can make things even more frustrating. We can’t afford to replace the toys and books that get destroyed. Some of them can’t even be replaced because they were things that were made for my kids. We definitely can’t afford to be buying enough arts and crafts supplies for the whole neighborhood. We can barely afford to make sure we have enough supplies for our own kids. It’s not fair to them that they should have to run out of things because other moms don’t want to supply their kids with their own craft goods and they definitely aren’t volunteering to replenish my stash. They don’t offer to replace the things their kids damage. Instead it’s just shrugged off with “Kids will be kids” and “Toys just aren’t made to last.”
The whole thing has really gotten under my skin because it’s my kids that are losing out in a lot of ways and their kids that get the benefits. They get to play with and break toys that aren’t their own. They get to waste our toilet paper, kitty litter, and everything else, things that I have to replace and clean up. I have to extra dishes, though it’s usually just glasses, because they all need drinks, then leave them all over the lawn, if I’m lucky. We’ve had a few disappear somewhere in the neighborhood, never to be found. There’s pressure on me to provide extra snacks and juice because my kids want a snack and it’s really not fair that they eat in front of their friends, and I’m not exactly going to tell my kids they can’t eat when they’re hungry just because we can’t afford to feed extra mouths. It’s taking away from the things my family has and it’s not my job to provide for these kids. I just do it because I’m kind and these kids obviously don’t have parents that care enough to offer the same things for their children that I do.
It’s also frustrating because it’s cutting into my time with my family. Having kids come and go is very disruptive, especially for Sander who doesn’t quite understand he’s not old enough to go with the older kids and I can’t exactly spend all my time outside with him. It’s too hot to have the baby out during the day and until it cools off, I’m really restricted to spending a lot of time inside with him. That means Sander spends a lot of time inside with me when he sees his brother and sister playing with the neighborhood kids so often. I kind of wish we had a fenced yard so I could just tell him to stay in the yard and he can go out. It’s disruptive having kids banging on the door all afternoon long because they want to play with my kids, especially since it wakes up the younger boys. It’s not easy.
It’s days like these that I have to remind myself that my kids are really learning something in all of this. They’re learning a lesson about kindness. They’re learning about sacrificing for the joy of others. They’re learning that I can incredibly patient, something I’m still working on. Most of all, they’re learning that sometimes it’s worth it just to make sure everyone is safe and happy.
Yes, it’s hard being the neighborhood mom. It’s hard sitting back and accepting that I’m doing the best I can. It’s hard knowing that my kids have a huge gift in having a mom that is available to them when they want her and actually cares enough to know where they are and be sure they’re safe. My kids are lucky that someone loves them. Now it’s just a mission of finding boundaries…