Performance review

There was a time when I measured my victories and accomplishments in very large, distinct ways. I would get a raise. That was a pretty sure way to tell I had done well. I would get a promotion. I’ve been given some pretty cool awards. Once, the powers-that-be were so pleased with my nearly round the clock reporting on the scene of devastating wildfires I was given a cruise. An actual paid vacation.

So as I stayed up waaay too late last night watching the horrible news out of the Kaiser’s homestate of West Virginia, I did what I usually do: I spent the entire time wondering how I would have covered the story.

Early on in the coverage when the word “miracle” was being thrown around I told the Kaiser that angle should not be played up by the media just yet. I felt it in my gut. We didn’t know the condition of those miners yet. We didn’t have official word. I wonder how many other of those reporters out there felt it in their guts. But that’s not the point here. The point is there was a time when I knew I had done a good job. I knew I accomplished something.

As a stay-at-home mom, I don’t even know if my head is screwed on some days, let alone if I’ve done well. And I’m really not sure how to figure out my victories and accomplishments.

For instance, while in bed last night Count Waffles picked his nose. He informed me “Wow, Mom. That’s a really big boogie.” And I found myself really excited because he then asked me for a tissue, instead of, say, wiping it on the bed. Is that an accomplishment? That I taught my son to use a tissue??

Where am I setting the bar, here? Am I just hoping for the “stay out of jail, stay off drugs” human being, or am I aiming higher? What’s the parenting equivalent of winning an award or being given a cruise???

If we’re talking strictly a to-do list for the day, and what I can actually get done off that list on any given day…then I should be fired. Canned. Is that clear evidence I’m not good at my job??

Or is it something else? Is it my son saying “thank you” and “please” consistently? Is it Princess Peanut’s inability to be held by anyone but her mother evidence I’ve given her a feeling of complete and total security? Count Waffles lack of angry aggression on the playground? Is that a success?

I don’t know if I really need to know I’m doing a good job, so much as I’d like to be a bit more sure I’m not completely fucking up.


  1. Ironically, we always say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, but then some of the smallest victories in life are the greatest.

    I guess it depends on how you look at it. Which is the point of your post, isn’t it? haha..

    Methinks you are doing a fine job as a mommy; we all question ourselves at times, that’s normal.

  2. I can relate! I guess it is a lesson in taking it day by day. How did we handle the day? Did we explode when we should have stayed calm? How are the kids turning out? How can we tell they are turning out ok? You will know that in your gut. Trust me… I would not worry sweet mama!

  3. I have 3 measures of success I use:

    1. Am I happy when I’m around the kids–in other words, am I dreading another whine or demand, or are they behaving so that I enjoy their company. Meaning, are they happy so I’m happy?

    2. Do other people want to see us and invite us over–can we go to restaurants–do we clean up ok and use manners?

    3. Are my kids lavishing me (and each other) with affection and love?

  4. I like those Running!

    Miz B—I think I’m so used to instant gratification…I have a hard tome taking it day by day. I’d be a terrible 12-stepper.

  5. These are awesome questions and I often think about this for myself. I reeally like what running said as well and I tend to think like that. When I’m evaluating how my son’s doing I think about the things I can influence like manners, how he reacts when someone is mean, how he reacts and says sorry when he does something out of turn or rude, I look at how comfortable he is with affection, how he includes others, and things like that. I can’t control how his brain learns and retains but I am proud of all the things I’ve been able to teach him thus far.

    It’s so hard being a mom. And it’s not easy when jerky moms judge you or try to act better than you for stupid things.

    I think you are a darling mommy. And like all of us, you have flaws, but I think you find humor in them and that’s one the greatest gifts we can give our kids. The ability to laugh when life gets sucky… right? Your heart for your kids is gushing all over this blog right down from the drag out fight for the peanuts tee cup to how you were shocked to find your son likes scarey slides! You are passionate about them. That my friend you can not bottle or replace or measure.

    Cheers! Wow,I wrote a lot… LOL…

  6. Ok. Apparently I can’t spell today. Sorry for the typos.. I just woke up from a LONG nap! LOL!!

  7. 🙂 😉

  8. Well, in terms of what is an acceptable day: any day that you end with the same number of children that you started with, and said children are reasonably healthy, happy, and clean (remember, I said reasonably), and the house is still on its foundation and hasn’t been condemned by the city. That’s an acceptable day.

    For a good day, I’d add in a lot of what Running said. Are you happy, and are your kids happy? At the end of the day, do other people still want to visit you?

    I think it’s impossible to come up with a daily list of things that must be done for it to be a good day, or a list of what makes a good mommy.

    One of the most important traits a mommy needs is versatility – being able to change everything at the drop of a hat, or the meltdown of a child. You seem to have the ability to handle whatever is thrown at you, so I’d say you’re doing a great job.

  9. Sometimes the smallest things are much more significant than the larger ones. Because the big things quickly move on, and all you are left with, are the little things in life.

  10. At the end of the day there are so so many factors that contribute to the “success” or failure of parenting.
    I think the small things are the ones that count or at least add up more quickly.

  11. The most disconcerting part about becoming a stay-at-home mother for me was the lack of external validation. I’ve spent my entire adulthood working and studying: I’m used to grades, and performance appraisals, and someone buying me a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates for a job particularly well done. Instead I have to measure success by the absence of screaming (mine or Duncan’s)and the fact he seems to be growing nicely. Odd.

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