Guest Blogger Jenny: Are You A "Never Enough" Mom? Than L.A. Private School Might Finish You Off

Homemade vs. Store Bought Cupcakes

 

In the endless discussion of parenting, female identity, and self-flagellation, the latest incarnation of such is the contrast between the “Never Enough” mom and the “Good Enough” mom.  According to Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple, authors of the new book, Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood, issues like the cupcake dilemma–and the myriad other choices moms must make in the name of  ”balance”—are actually part of a brand new Mommy War, especially for working moms. To read the interview with the authors at The Mother Company, click here.

 

Apparently, the “Never Enough” mom usually has given up some high-powered job and focused all that energy onto the raising of her children. She constantly strives for perfection in all things, including homemade lunches, home baked cupcakes for her kids’ birthdays, and shuttling them to every class and event on the parenting docket.

 

The “Good Enough” mom, of course, isn’t exactly the opposite (that would be the “Doing Time” mom), but she definitely has lower standards.  She doesn’t always run the bake sales (or, show up to the bake sales). Her kids aren’t booked into activities every waking hour (mostly because she doesn’t feel like driving them everywhere, at all hours). And often, those birthday cupcakes are from Pavilion’s instead of Mama’s Cucina. The implication of all this is, of course, that the “Never Enough” moms are going crazy in their endless pursuit of perfection, and the “Good Enough” moms are always wondering if they’re really “good enough,” or really “kind of stink.” As I always wonder if I “kind of stink,” since I take time for myself and don’t go to every event, I can relate to these women. It’s a no win situation for sure.

 

And private school doesn’t make it any better.  If you’re already prone to being a “Never Enough” kind of parent, private school will bleed you dry. There are just too many opportunities for involvement, from committees to special events to weekly time consuming commitments. Say “yes” to just one or two, and you will be inundated with offers, emails, and phone calls requesting your services. And this can snowball into quite a standoff.

 

One mom friend of mine has a fairly demanding job; she may work from home, but she might be working 24/7; she never knows. Yet, because she started out her first private school year with typical “Never Enough” mommy gusto, she was completely burnt out halfway through her daughter’s second year. She was forced to start saying no. And the disgruntled sighs and bug-eyed stares of disbelief she received while politely limiting her involvement made her beat herself up even more. Because there’s nothing worse to a group of “Never Enoughs” than a “Never Enough” turning “Good Enough.”

 

Because I’m so “Good Enough,” I choose my volunteer opportunities carefully. I helped out at used uniform sales, worked a two hour shift at the bake sale during the school fair, managed to get three great silent auction items donated, and chaperoned one field trip. Paltry? Perhaps, but I live over 20 miles away from the school and have lots of other responsibilities. I must admit I did make homemade butterscotch brownies (recipe on Jenny’s blog, Find A Toad) for Anna’s school birthday celebration (at her request), but since they’re my specialty and I can make them in my sleep, I don’t consider that a big deal. However, you’d never catch me up at midnight baking homemade cupcakes; the kids just want sugar, and store bought works just fine.

 

For Anna’s second year, I plan on ramping up my involvement a bit more. But I know my limits, and I don’t care about being branded as “Good Enough.” To all you overachieving, super human, cupcake baking “Never Enoughs” out there, bless you, and may the deity of your choice help you create private school volunteerism boundaries that work for you.

 

Jenny Heitz has worked as a staff writer for Coast Weekly in Carmel, freelanced in the South Bay, and then switched to advertising copywriting. Her daughter started 4th grade at Mirman School this year. She previously attended 3rd St. Elementary School. Jenny has been published recently in the Daily News and on Mamapedia, The Well Mom, Sane Moms, Hybrid Mom, The Culture Mom and A Child Grows In Brooklyn. She now writes about gift ideas and products on her blog, Find A Toad

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Guest Blogger Jenny: Congratulations! Your Child May Be Gifted…In Something

Bill Gates: The Gifted One

Gifted. The word conjures up all sorts of connotations for parents, from having a musical prodigy to spawning the next Bill Gates (like him or not, he’s definitely gifted). As the parent of a designated “highly gifted” child myself (you can read about Anna’s designation journeyhere), I was stunned to discover that, at least for the term “gifted,” there really isn’t any set criteria.


There was a post recently on Yahoo Parents (entitled, handily, 10 Signs Your Child May Be Gifted”) that tried to spell out exactly how to determine your child’s gifted status. The writer, not a psychologist or an expert (but, then, neither am I), had a list of traits that apparently encompass giftedness. These attributes included everything from longer attention spans to musical ability to your kid, essentially, being a chatterbox. It did not, however, give a set definition for what giftedness is, thus setting up a laundry list in which anyone’s child could fit at least a couple of the entries. So, please, read the article and congratulate yourself: your child is gifted… in something.

Whatever that means. Even LAUSD, when it comes to designating giftedness upon students, has three different ways to do it: IQ test (given by the district; good luck getting that scheduled), years of superior standardized testing scores, or teachers simply deciding your kid is smart, based upon a four item list. Confused? You should be. Some school districts (not LAUSD) even categorize athletic ability as giftedness (which it most certainly is, but not related to academics or IQ).

As someone who’s already been through the wringer with this process, I can say in all honesty that, in most cases, that “gifted” designation is a waste of time. The only reason to go through with it, pursuing the testing and all the other nonsense, is if you have some end goal in mind for your child. You think your kid is highly gifted and might benefit from a highly gifted magnet or school? By all means, test the kid.  By the time we tested Anna, we already knew that public school didn’t offer the resources to keep her academically occupied. She was pulling top grades, bored and restless, acting out in class, and the teachers often used her as an adjunct teacher for other kids (something that happens to smart kids all the time, unfairly; kids are supposed to be students, not unpaid TAs).

In the end, the only benefits the gifted status bestows upon your child are academic. A high IQ score in the highly gifted range opens the doors to incredible summer programs, wonderful private schools like Mirman (where my daughter goes, and loves), and a few highly regarded public magnet schools. So, if you’re interested in getting your child involved in that, get him or her tested using one of the standard IQ tests, usually either the Stanford Binet or the WISC. It costs you some money, takes about ninety minutes, and the kid usually has fun (my daughter totally enjoyed her testing process, and felt no pressure whatsoever).  You have the score in hand immediately, and then you can decide to proceed or ignore it (whatever you do, though, DO NOT tell your child the score. I believe it’s a set up for disaster. Anna will never know that she is smarter than her mother).

On the other hand, you could look at the incredible art your child produces, or her love and mastery of the guitar, or even her stealthy kicking gifts on the soccer field and know, right down to your bones, that no standardized test could ever measure such gifts.  A high IQ is a measurement of academic and intellectual potential, a raw quantitative analysis of what might be possible if your child decides to use it. But it’s not a pursuit, or a passion, or an achievement in and of itself.
Jenny Heitz has worked as a staff writer for Coast Weekly in Carmel, freelanced in the South Bay, and then switched to advertising copywriting. Her daughter started 4th grade at Mirman School this year. She previously attended 3rd St. Elementary School. Jenny has been published recently in the Daily News and on Mamapedia, The Well Mom, Sane Moms, Hybrid Mom, The Culture Mom and A Child Grows In Brooklyn. She now writes about gift ideas and products on her blog, Find A Toad.

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Happy 4th Of July!

Hi Everyone!
Happy 4th of July!
Guest blogger Jenny is in Hawaii enjoying a much-deserved vacation. She’ll be back later this week with her usual informative and funny posts here on Beyond The Brochure and her gift suggestions on Find A Toad.

I’m hosting a BBQ for a few friends because July 4th is my favorite holiday of the year. It always promises great weather, relaxation and a nice reminder of American patriotism. Enjoy your holiday!

Here’s a July 4th post I wrote in response to an open call for essays about “when you felt most American” on Open Salon, the sister site of Salon.com. This piece, called “Black Churches, “Amazing Grace And Feeling American, was selected for the cover as an Editor’s Pick.

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What If You Dislike The Admissions Director At A School?

A recent reader comment got me thinking about the issue of what to do if you tour a school and you dislike the admissions director. Or, what if you tour a school and the person leading the tour is not well-informed or is a kid?

 

If you think your child might do well at the school, try to look past the AD to other aspects of the school. Focus your attention on the teachers, the curicculium, the athletic program, diversity, the location of the school, etc.

 

Understand that you’ll probably have minimal if any contact with the AD once your child is enrolled in the school. Of course, if the AD has a dual role like asst. head of school, then that’s different.

 

Let’s face it, some ADs aren’t always the best representative for what may be a wonderful school. I’d talk to current parents at the school and try to get a deeper sense of the school and feedback on the aspects of a school that will be important to you and your child.

 

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