One of our favorite bedtime books is Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. In this tongue-twister of a story, Little Nutbrown Hare tells his father how much he loves him. But no matter what, Big Nutbrown Hare can always make his love just a little bit bigger. As they keep one-upping each other, Big Nutbrown Hare tells his son that he loves him all the way to the moon and back.
To the moon and back: it’s a good way to communicate the indescribable love of a parent for her child. We love our kids when they are shining examples of our parenting prowess, and we love them when they show all of our selfish flaws. We love them when they wear us out, and we love them when they inspire us to action. In short, we love them to the moon and back!
But, let’s face it, parenting in today’s world is a full-contact sport.
As parents, we feel the need to be constantly comparing and checking to see if our love measures up. If it doesn’t — and how could it, in our social-media-saturated, picture-perfect-posts world? — the pressure is on to do just a little more. We don’t want to be out-done. To tell you the truth, it’s exhausting, and with multiple littles in my life, I just can’t keep up any more.
My love goes to the moon and back. But there are a few key areas where you may not see it…
Pre-School Class Activities
I love pre-school. I love just about everything about pre-school. My kids get to socialize with others their age and make awesome crafts and learn things like how to hold a pencil and walk in a line and make friends. Seriously, my hat is off to pre-school teachers. How they get an entire class of 2-year-olds to sit at a table and have a snack and drink from cups without lids without total pandemonium is beyond me. I can rarely achieve this greatness one-one-one. They are magical, those pre-school teachers.
But occasionally, when it comes to class activities…I kind of lose it. It’s like the one-upmanship of Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare on steroids. Moms go to crazy lengths when it comes to costumes and goodie bags. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I just don’t have the time, creativity or ganas to search on Pinterest for the cutest holiday-appropriate printable, much less make an extra trip to the store for the perfect cellophane bag that I fill with items that I know will be lost or broken within 24 hours of them getting passed out.
Sorry, kids. I love you to the moon and back, but you’re getting Ziploc baggies of pretzels to hand out to all of your friends.
Want to feel like a failure of a mom? Let’s talk about birthday parties. We’ve been to a few that have absolutely blown me away. I’m talking appetizers, a full meal, and live entertainment by a clown brigade. Or cakes that likely cost more than what our family spends on groceries in a week. Or the gift bags whose contents are more than likely worth more than the present that I brought.
And let’s face it, half of the time, the child for whom said birthday party is being thrown doesn’t really even know my kids that well, nor will they take a moment to open presents and thank the guests for coming.
Sorry, kids. I love you to the moon and back, but we’re swimming in the backyard and eating Hot-n-Ready pizzas and store-brand drinks at your birthday party.
Showing Love without Competing
The real moral of Guess How Much I Love You is that Big Nutbrown Hare loves his son more than Little Nutbrown Hare could ever imagine, and that’s exactly what I want my kids to know.
Awesomely-themed parties and perfectly-cute preschool gifts are great, but that’s not really what I want my kids to remember me by. I hope that they will recall tea parties and tickle fights, fun family outings and Friday night movies in our PJs. I want them to feel secure in the love that their father and I have for them, and I want our love shrink or make us step away.
I pray that they always, always know that we truly do love them to the moon and back.