The World’s Biggest Snowball

By Beck

I got another big shipment of books this afternoon, mostly parenting or crafts with kids or family activities type books, and was quickly overwhelmed with the desire to curl up someplace quiet and read for several days, which reminded me of a friend’s joke: “Go away! Mama’s readin’ her parentin’ magazine.”

I love being a mother. I love being a stay-at-home mother. I even love being a “homemaker” – but I often find myself wishing, rather desperately, that it was still 1950 and I could send my kids outside for the afternoon and go in the house, which would be quiet and cool and tidy. I don’t think it was actually safer in 1950, but there was more blithe ignorance, which seems, from my perspective nearly 60 years away, to be preferable to my anxious, fear-filled hovering. Fearful, of course, that not only will something bad happen to the little goobers but also that I might miss out on some necessary developmental stage, that I might let something slip and then KABOOM, they’re 12 year old heroin addicts.

You know, if I took the afternoon off to read or something.

There’s a weird streak of narcissism in all of this anxiety, I think, that what I’m doing is so VITAL and so CONSTANTLY NECESSARY that if I let go of my constant hovering, they’ll blow up like little neglected bombs. I think raising my children well is the most important thing I could do, do NOT get me wrong, but I do think that the cult of fanatical motherhood has not served mothers – or children – well. Do they need me constantly attending to their every need, making sure that they never experience a moment of boredom or have a whim that goes unmet? Probably not.

My older children told me today about an adventure that they had back in the winter. The Girl’s class suddenly decided to start rolling one massive snowball, and as a group they were pushing this HUGE snowball around until the rest of the school started joining in, and finally the whole school – all 90 of them – were pushing this gigantic snowball around, until it was as tall as the roof (or so the kids told me) of the school.

“And then what happened?” I asked, curious. They shrugged.

“Recess was over,” they said. “We went inside.” And I was left with the rather pleasant image of the whole school of them – the nearly adult-sized 13 year olds, right down to the wee baby-sized four year olds – pushing this gigantic snowball as a group, just for fun. They did this on their own with no suggestions from me and that it also didn’t even occur to them to tell me about it until now, eight months later. It’s not 1950, and there will always be things to worry about, but meanwhile, my kids have this one perfect winter memory in the middle of our cranky, rainy summer, and I can maybe relax and sit down with a book for a while.

Beck also blogs at Frog And Toad Are Still Friends.

34 Responses to The World’s Biggest Snowball
  1. Stephanie
    July 31, 2008 | 12:19 am

    Beck, I love this post…


  2. feefifoto
    July 31, 2008 | 12:28 am

    Those are the kind of moments that come about spontaneously and can never be recreated. Whenever my kids and I have one of those experiences I try to point out to them how special and fleeting it is.

  3. Iva
    July 31, 2008 | 6:57 am

    I adore the games that children play on their own without adult interference. If only we were all so creative.

  4. Monica
    July 31, 2008 | 8:23 am

    when I was a kid, 4- 5th grade, I spent hours roaming the neighborhood on my bike. I never see kids bike riding on my street and we live on a back road with hardly any traffic.

    my gang does roam outside without me (gasp! I’m letting them outside alone!) on our almost 3 acres, but it took me a long time to get used to it. our world is different now.

    (Beck, we have the same sense of wicked humor, btw.)

  5. Hannah
    July 31, 2008 | 8:53 am

    So I’m not the only mom who has nostalgic longings for parenting in my grandmother’s time! How I do wish for the sandlot and stickball games sometimes … it seems almost impossible to not micromanage our kids’ lives and days sometimes, and even when philosophically, we believe (and even tell them) that a little boredom is good for them, it sures raises the parental hackles to hear the complaints!

    Let me know if you do figure out how to get a solid afternoon of reading in! (A friend of mine likes to tell how her mother, who had five, once disappeared into her room for two days straight, door locked, to read Gone with the Wind. They survived on PBJ’s and love to tell the story!)

  6. Tiffanie
    July 31, 2008 | 9:29 am

    They do survive, and I think it’s important for them to have to come up with their own entertainment from time to time. My issue with the micromanagement is that I’m too worried that their “own entertainment” will result in a big mess for mommy, or another chipped tooth or worse.

  7. Bonnie
    July 31, 2008 | 9:37 am

    Great story. I wonder if my kids pushed along with yours…

  8. Mandi
    July 31, 2008 | 9:53 am

    Oh how I long for the 1950’s when life ran at a slower pace, there was always a hot homemade meal, ironed clothes and the house looked impecable. My cousins and I were discussing this matter just recently. We were talking how our children will probably not get to enjoy the things we did when we were there age. Endless summer nights sleeping in the back yard on the trampoline, riding our bikes to a little town not far away to have lunch (we were about 8), going to the movies alone. I want my kids to have these fun childhood memories but life just isn’t the same as it was even 30 years ago. Oh don’t get me wrong they can have these same experiences as I had growing up but with me hovering over them!

  9. Michele
    July 31, 2008 | 9:58 am

    Wonderful story!

  10. Lisa Milton
    July 31, 2008 | 10:39 am

    Lovely, Beck and right on the spot.

    I hear you.

  11. LoriD
    July 31, 2008 | 10:44 am

    Such a great story. I worry about the balance between being (over)protective and giving kids space to be kids.

  12. PastormacsAnn
    July 31, 2008 | 11:02 am

    Ah, but if it were the 1950’s, I wouldn’t know you (no internet to connect us) and that’s just…sad.

    This is a great post, Beck.

  13. Nowheymama
    July 31, 2008 | 11:58 am

    The mothers in our neighborhood were just discussing this very topic. Specifically, how our mothers are always telling us to take the kids (their grandchildren) outside more. But did they *take us* outside? No, they *sent us* outside. We hovering mothers have to complete chores inside with children before we can ALL go outside. 🙂

  14. Mary-LUE
    July 31, 2008 | 12:26 pm

    I think is some areas, there is guilt about not being able to send your kids outside without adult supervision. As a child, just five minutes away from where I now live, I used to get up in the morning and just go–wherever. My mom wasn’t worried about what I was doing or who might be out there who could hurt me. I don’t feel that security as a parent now.

    Still, even with life being so different, I still think our kids are much more capable of entertaining themselves–or surviving no entertainment–than we realize.

  15. Aliki
    July 31, 2008 | 2:09 pm

    Isn’t it funny how some memories our kids have will just lie dormant for months and then pop out of the blue? This always amazes me…

  16. Kelly
    July 31, 2008 | 3:40 pm

    That story would make the best children’s book. It captures the wonder of childhood so well.

    “We pushed. And it got bigger. So we pushed some more. And it got GIGANTIC! And then the bell rang, and we went in for tomato soup and grilled cheese. But the snowball didn’t melt until April.”

  17. Woman in a window
    July 31, 2008 | 4:22 pm

    I love that they have these secret adventures. Love it!

  18. Janet
    July 31, 2008 | 4:30 pm

    We do hover, don’t we? I have been working so much this summer that my kids have been forced to play together and fend for themselves. It turns out they do actually imaginations. Who knew?

  19. edj
    August 1, 2008 | 12:47 am

    When my oldest was 12 months old and I found out I was pg with twins, I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to give each one the attention each deserved. A friend told me of a study she’d just read about how the happiest, best adjusted adults seem to come from families of about 4-5 kids, enough so that each child experienced a little benign neglect. I’ve always remembered that, and I think you should take an afternoon just to read. Everyone will benefit! (assuming of course that the kids are in a safe-enough area and can be trusted to stay in it. Can you sit near a window to read?)

  20. chaotic joy
    August 1, 2008 | 8:19 am

    Beck! This post was three kinds of awesome.

  21. Kathryn
    August 3, 2008 | 2:19 am

    That. Made me smile. 🙂

  22. bren j.
    August 3, 2008 | 6:48 pm

    Well said, Beck. I wish there were pictures of that snowball – it’s sounds awesome!

  23. Ativan.
    November 25, 2008 | 2:53 am

    Ativan dosage….

    Ativan addiction. Ativan drug information. Generic ativan. Ativan treatmenr for seizures. Ativan information. Ativan side effects….

  24. cialis rezeptfrei europa
    May 4, 2009 | 7:34 am

    cialis rezeptfrei europa…

    hemisphere shut conclude estimates thousand webmate…

  25. free games online
    March 24, 2012 | 10:39 am

    … [Trackback]…

    […] Find More Informations here: […]…

  26. que es el amor
    March 28, 2012 | 2:13 pm

    … [Trackback]…

    […] There you will find 62815 more Infos: […]…

  27. frases de amor
    April 1, 2012 | 4:54 am

    … [Trackback]…

    […] Read More: […]…

  28. frases de amor
    April 1, 2012 | 1:47 pm

    … [Trackback]…

    […] There you will find 77735 more Infos: […]…

  29. ensayo
    April 2, 2012 | 11:56 am

    … [Trackback]……

    […]thanks 11 I know that this really good post today.[…]…

  30. Playa del carmen mexico
    April 2, 2012 | 2:26 pm

    …. [Trackback]…….

    […]16 I saw this really nice post today.[…]…

  31. cartas de amor
    April 2, 2012 | 4:39 pm

    …. [Trackback]…….

    […]Whithout words… This really good post today 5. Get more info here.[…]…

  32. … [Trackback]…

    […] Find More Informations here: […]…

  33. Bachelorette Party Favors
    April 10, 2012 | 8:43 pm

    … [Trackback]…

    […] Read More here: […]…

  34. Para Ma
    April 15, 2012 | 6:28 am

    Gems form the internet…

    […]very few websites that happen to be detailed below, from our point of view are undoubtedly well worth checking out[…]……

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL