Jenn Koren

Who Says I Can't?

Still Figuring Out This Parent Thing July 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennkoren @ 7:24 am

So I have completely failed with my goal to blog at least once a week.  However, I wasn’t truly inspired to really write anything that I thought was worth reading…even for me. I promised myself that I wouldn’t blog about meaningless things just ‘because I had to blog’.  If something didn’t stick with me for more than a day then I figured it wasn’t really that interesting enough to waste my time on.  The other day I experienced something and it’s stuck with me for a while now so I figured it was time to revisit my blog and get it down so that I could be at peace with it.

I have no problem admitting that I am definitely a workaholic.  I love to work and keep busy.  Some people have hobbies and things on the side that they do for fun..well I work..that’s my hobby.  I love things that are challenging and put me in a social setting that I can really focus and make a difference in what I’m doing.  I love solving problems and providing positive leadership to my staff so that they can continue to push themselves and feel proud of what they do.   I always put everything I have into getting the job done.  That’s just me.  I’ve tried not working, but I think I got bored by the second day and immediately fled back to my job looking for anything that I could do to help.  I definitely don’t need to work right now in the capacity that I’m working and I could do the more domesticated stay at home route.  However, I already work from home and I already handle all the household duties….so what’s the point?

I am also the Mom to a soon to be 9 year old girl and a soon to be 4 year old son.  I’ve tried to be the best parent that I can be but I will honestly say that I’m a better worker than I am a parent.  The parent thing just hasn’t come as natural to me as it has with other people I know.   You would think that if I could be a great Manager then I would be a great Mom too, right?    I mean if I can motivate a group of people and maintain a positive environment and push everyone to hit their goals, then why wouldn’t I be able to do that with my kids?

The other night my daughter had her first campfire cookout for her Girl Scout troop.  Normally these things are such a bother to me because they are after work and I’m tired…and I know she’s going to be tired and it just throws my whole schedule off.  But, as a parent you HAVE to do these things even when you’re tired..even when you’ve had a long day and week and all you want to do is curl up in your pj’s and watch a movie.   However, some of the other  Moms that I knew from the troop were also going to be there so it would be a chance to socialize for me as well.

The house we went to had a pool so the girls were able to swim the majority of the time that we were there.  I sat myself down by the pool and started conversing with the other parents, while keeping an eye on my daughter who I honestly wasn’t sure how well she could swim (I even asked her as she got into the pool…’can you swim?’)…I know…you’re thinking ‘Mother of the Year’, right?

So as I’m talking with the other parents I notice my daughter following around her 2 girlfriends (who seem to be the only2 girls that she ever plays with at school or talks about at home).  I quickly realized that they were purposely trying to avoid her…as in ‘ON PURPOSE!’   She would swim over to them and they would see her coming and quickly laugh and talk secretly and swim away.  This carried on for pretty much the majority of the night.  You would think that my daughter would have gotten the point that these girls were playing  a mean game with her and that she should just move on to play with the other 10 girls that were there, but she didn’t.  She kept trying to play with these 2 girls and kept following them around like a lost puppy looking for some type of acceptance.  It was very obvious to the rest of the girls and also all the parents that this was going on.

Besides feeling complete rage over the situation, I was astonished at the fact that my daughter continued to try to pursue these girls, but probably more bothered that she didn’t show any sign of the situation bothering her. Every time they turned their back on her she would say something like ‘hey girls, why aren’t you talking to me?’ or just turn around and play by herself in the pool before trying to approach the girls again.  She wasn’t crying over it, getting mad or throwing any sort of temper tantrum to draw attention to herself.  She simply took the abuse…and then went back for more!

I honestly couldn’t understand her reaction to this.  As I child, I was never bullied.  I never was at a loss for friends and always seemed liked.  I never bullied anyone else (or at least not on purpose and if I did..I always felt bad and said sorry).  I was friends with everyone and never felt alone or socially unaccepted. I was athletic and popular and had a pretty good childhood.  If someone didn’t want to be my friend I didn’t care, because I had plenty others.

I wasn’t really sure how to handle the whole situation when it was occurring because part of me wanted to sit the girls down and give them all a lesson in teamwork and positive influence and how you should treat everyone as you would want to be treated because as my Mom always told me…’What goes around, comes around’.  But really I wanted to have a few ‘nice’ words with the parents.  I mean, who brings up their kids to act like this?  They don’t learn this on their own.  However, I thought this was probably inappropriate at the time….but oh so tempting…

As a Leader and Manager, I’ve always believed that my staff was a product of me.  If they weren’t successful its because I didn’t prepare them correctly and it was my job to steer them in the right direction.  I quickly realized that I wasn’t following the same guidelines as a parent that I was following in my career.  I was focusing more on being successful in my work then I was as a parent.

Seeing my daughter take this abuse made me feel like more of a failure then I have ever felt in anything in my entire life.  I saw ‘her’ for the first time in a long time.  I saw her as being on her own and trying to figure out this world with little guidance from me.  This broke me at that moment.  It broke me more than I care to admit or can put into words.

On the way home, I asked her if she had fun, knowing the whole time that she played by herself and was completely rejected by her two ‘supposedly best friends’ the entire time we were there.  Her response, ‘I had an AWESOME time Mom!’  I held in tears on the way home as my stomach twisted and turned from the whole experience.

We got home late and I walked her upstairs to her room and put her to bed.  Normally I would walk out of her bedroom door saying goodnight with my mind already on something else that I needed to be working on.  This night, I stayed in her room for a bit and got into bed with her.  She smiled as she snuggled into me and I made a silent promise to her on that night that I would be a better Mom going forward and that I would show her that she is the most important person in the world and she should never accept less then what she deserves.

We also enrolled her in Karate the next weekend so that she will learn self defense and give a serious butt whooping to anyone who tried to mess with her….okay..that might not be the best lesson ..but it made me feel better.

As a full time working parent who spends more time working than being a parent, I’ve realized that I haven’t focused on being the best parent I can be.  I’ve realized it’s much harder to be a good parent then it is to be successful at your career.  It requires me giving more of myself in ways that I never realized were necessary or possible.  I know that this will be my greatest challenge in life and all the jobs that come and go will just be something that I do on the side.

Love you Emma…with a bushel and peck..and a hug around the neck..

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12 Responses to “Still Figuring Out This Parent Thing”

  1. J. Goldman Says:

    by a million miles your best yet. keep these coming! did you ever figure out if Emma ever truly realized how the girls were acting and was just hiding it or was she just not able to understand yet that some people suck?

    • jennkoren Says:

      Thanks as always for your support. This one felt good writing it. I started to talk to Emma about things and tried to make her realize that it was okay to talk about her feelings. Her response, ‘Mom, stop, you sound like a guidance counselor’…enough said..

  2. romi Says:

    Hey Jenn – Yes — being a good worker helps with being a better parent, at least for me (I have 3 kids 9,12, 19) and I run a web business and have held demanding corporate jobs.

    BUT…I’m sure you’ve figured this out by now, work is about goals/deadlines/expectations/end results and has a definite infrastructure while parenting is much more about the process and being reactive to what is throw at you in the moment. Sure, you can schedule and plan (and I do — I also work with cozi.com — check it out!) but at the end of the day, parenting can be filled with quiet (and yes, boring) moments with unexpected fires to put out and triage to be done. And at the end of the day — no one is there saying “good job!” — it’s a much quieter, internal satisfaction/validation that only comes from you.

    Give yourself a break and consider your metrics for success and what it means to be a “good parent.” The best advice I can give (as a workaholic myself…) is to be as present as possible when you are with them– put down that blackberry at the table and enjoy those moments when you tuck your daughter into bed. With one daughter in college already I know how precious these moments are and how important these bedtime rituals are for kids.

    If it makes you feel any better, many a night I’ve whispered into my kids’ ears, “I’ll be a better mommy tomorrow…” You’re definitely not alone here. (read more confessions here Jenn — truuconfessions.com)

    • jennkoren Says:

      Thanks romi – I really enjoyed this comment. It’s nice to know I’m not alone with issues like these and encouraging to see how other parents have coped and focused themselves on what’s important. I really liked the truuconfessions.com as well and will be a frequent visitor there. Thanks again!

  3. Leslie Says:

    I have apologized to Auz about not being at my best at times. And he always looks at me and says mommy you are great! 🙂

    Look at it this way, you realized that something needed to be worked on and you are taking action towards it. We are not perfect….and I am sure she knows and feels that you are there for her completely. We are our hardest critics.

    I agree your best one yet. 🙂 Boo to those girls and shame on the parents for not stepping in on that. I know I would have if I would have seen my child acting like that.

    • jennkoren Says:

      Thanks Leslie. It was hard not to beat myself up about this but it was also a great learning experience. But you’re so right that even though we have so many faults as parents, they continue to love us unconditionally.

  4. Mneiae Says:

    Thanks for sharing. I know that it can be really hard to juggle. I actually think that being an excellent businessperson can be detrimental to home life. My opinion is colored by my experience. My town is full of workaholic parents whose kids are maladjusted.

    I was one of the two girls who turned their backs on your girl. She was totally adrift when she wasn’t part of our cozy threesome and her mom got involved and yelled at our teacher about the “cliques” at our school. We then received a stern lecture from our teacher that really alienated that girl even more. We didn’t make any effort to include her, ever, and every time she needed a partner, the teacher was forced to assign her one.

    I was also your daughter once. It was in middle school, but it was still painful. The thing was, my friends denied that it had ever happened months later.

    I’m glad that you’ve enrolled your kid in karate. Even if that particular dojo doesn’t work out, I’d encourage you to enroll her in some kind of self-defense class. You never know.

  5. It’s a balancing act, but always parenting trumps working. Having said that, we all make mistakes but as long as we’re aware and make the adjustments, in the end our children will grow up and know in their heart of hearts that we loved them even more than we loved anything else, even ourselves.
    Go mums and dads!

    • jennkoren Says:

      Thanks Trish, I completely agree that the most important part of this was the fact that I could see it happening and was aware that I had to do something about it. The unconditional love that they show us is sometimes overwhelming as a Mom and I will always try to live up to it. Thanks for your comment!

  6. The Big "D" Says:

    Redemption is a wonderful thing, but only comes on the heels of “turning” in your heart. This is a wonderful piece of redemption. The best thing is that “Emma” won’t know it happened but be the recipient of more love than she’s known before.
    Parenting is continually a struggle, painful at times, but filled with great moments of rewards and comfort.


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