Motherhood Monday: On School Projects, Time Management and Letting Go / by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

It’s Motherhood Monday! Today I want to explore school projects, time management and letting go. But first, a few visuals for context:

Exhibit A: Disguise a Turkey

Exhibit A: Disguise a Turkey

Exhibit B: Send a Snowman on Vacation  

Exhibit B: Send a Snowman on Vacation  

Today was not my finest day of parenting, and yet it was the day I felt most proud of my efforts at doing the best I absolutely could do. 

In November, Big Girl came home excited about a school project: Disguise a Turkey. See Exhibit A. Apparently, it’s one of those Pinterest assignments that everyone is doing. Being the former art teacher that I am, and given Big Girl’s creativity and imagination, we went all in! She decided on a disguise and made a list of what she’d need (sneaky writing assignment, score!) We planned a trip to Hobby Lobby. She colored her Turkey, designed the dress and I executed the tricky parts. It was Say Yes to the Dress Turkey Edition and I was a proud seamstress.  Big Girl created hair and makeup to die for! This turkey arrived at school a week early and certainly wasn’t going to get eaten! 

Fast forward one month later. This time we were charged with sending a snow woman  on vacation. Big Girl was ambivalent about a destination and I was tired. On Monday all she knew was that she didn’t want to send the snow woman to the beach. On Tuesday I had her make a list. Although she didn’t want to send her to the beach, her top two choices were Hawaii and the Bahamas. Her other choice was safari in South Africa. The sun set on Tuesday with no decision. Wednesday I was exhausted and she was preoccupied, so no progress was made. By Thursday I knew that we needed to figure out what she was doing so I made her her settle on a location. After scrolling through photos on google, chose Coco Cay, Bahamas. I think the giant water slide swayed her decision. She made a list of what she needed to pack and drew a swim suit on the snow woman. Friday was busy with evening activities. Saturday was busy with ministry and hair appointments. Sunday I preached and we had a church fellowship event in the afternoon. By the time we arrived home in the early evening, I was pooped. Hubby is in London. Thank God my mother in law is here from Ghana. I gave instructions and a timeline and then retreated to my room. I put on my pajamas and I crashed hard. That was about 6:00pm. 

At 6:30am, I woke rested and refreshed. I felt amazing. And then panic set in. The snow girl was due TODAY and wasn’t ready at all! The thoughts swirled in my head. I drafted an email to her teacher and then deleted it. I contemplated using her free pass to miss a homework assignment but decided against it. That left me with only one option: Book a last minute flight to a beach somewhere, anywhere. As the girls slept, I combed through magazines to find stuff from her list. I cut out cardboard and found white paper to attach to it to create a background. I put the paper, cardboard and cutouts on the table along with glue sticks, stickers and crayons. And then I woke her up. She got dressed quickly, ate breakfast and then we finished the project. See Exhibit B. 

The school project got done. It wasn’t done with time to spare—in my pre-motherhood perfectionist sense of timing—but it was done on time. Every detail wasn’t neat and crisp— my pre-motherhood perfectionist way of doing things—but it was quirky, creative and fun. And you know what? Big Girl had the same amount of fun creating it and was equally proud of it. Could we have done things differently? Perhaps, but it is what it is.

I know, you were probably thinking this was going to be about being better at time management. I could have shared a list of things I could have done—Five Strategies for Busy Moms when School Projects are Due. Maybe that’s what you needed. But for me, this was less about time management and was a lesson in letting go. Letting go of perfection. Letting go of unrealistic expectations. Letting go of things I can’t control, and focusing on what I can. And I believe in letting go, I modeled a valuable lesson to Big Girl. And maybe, just maybe, as she matures, she’ll let go and do her best, knowing that her best is good enough.