A look back on my triumphs and not-so-glorious moments

lpemberton@theolympian.comMarch 17, 2013 

I spend my life asking other people questions.

Now, it’s time to ask myself a few.

Q: What is your favorite part of being a mom?

A: It’s watching my kids go on to do great things on their own, such as bringing home good grades, standing up for issues they believe in and making good decisions.

I also love to read to them at bedtime. Lately, we’ve been working on the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series by Rick Riordan and “The Boxcar Children” series by Gertrude Chandler Warner.

Q: What’s your not-so-favorite part of being a mom?

A: Some moms would probably say housework or driving their kids to sports practices and events.

But for me, it’s the politics of children’s birthday parties.

I have three kids and can’t afford to invite their entire class to a party – that’s like 75 guests.

But that seems to be the expectation for birthday parties these days.

I know, because I’ve heard parents complain when their child wasn’t invited to someone else’s birthday party at the roller skating rink, bounce house center or Chuck E. Cheese.

Then, once you go to a party, there’s so much pressure to buy the guest of honor the right gift, and that can get expensive.

Last year, my kids were invited to three birthday parties for five different kids in one weekend. But it wasn’t just any weekend – it was like the one right after a vacation and a week before payday, when all of our credit cards were maxed out. I know some parents probably would have only let their kids choose one of those parties to go to, but we decided to let our kids go to all three, albeit with some pretty meager gifts.

Oh, and don’t get me started on people who don’t RSVP or read the invitation and assume it includes their child’s siblings that you didn’t plan for, and don’t have enough treats for, and, by the way, they’ll be back in about five hours to pick everyone up. The last time someone did that, I wanted to say, “I’m sorry, the invitation said ‘Birthday Party,’ not ‘Free Childcare for Your Entire Family.’”

This year, we’ve decided to stick with good old fashioned parties at home, and limit their guest lists to two or three friends and their families.

Q: OK, we get it. You seem to have issues with children’s birthday parties. Do you like any holidays?

A: Yes, I love Christmas, Halloween and Easter.

We have some wonderful family traditions around each of those holidays.

I actually like birthdays, too. I just wish birthday parties weren’t so stressful, expensive and political.

Q: If “Mother of the Year” was based on one single moment in your life, what would that be?

A: The day I took all three of my kids to Disneyland – by myself – and survived.

Q: So what event would strip you of that title, and possibly ban you from ever earning it again?

A: A few years ago, my husband and I were arguing over where our seats were at the rodeo, and, well, we accidentally left our oldest son on the opposite side of the arena.

We realized that when we sat down in the correct seats and there was an extra one.

We ran back as fast as we could to get him. He was OK; he was just talking to the usher who had given us directions. The usher was very kind, and said he knew we would come back for our son. He also said we’d be surprised how often that happens.

Still, every time I think about it, I feel a twinge of guilt.

Q: Wait. You’ve lost your kid before, and you still get to write a parenting column?

A: No, I’m writing a family column.

I’ve never claimed to be a parenting expert. In fact, some of my most popular columns are about situations when I completely flopped as a parent.

This column is about my journey – the ups and downs – of motherhood. I hope you enjoy it.

Lisa Pemberton is one busy mama, raising three children while working as a reporter at The Olympian. Reach her at lpemberton@theolympian.com.

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