posted by Momo Fali on September 18, 2012

If you’ve heard me say it once, you’ve heard me say it 100 times; I would be the most conceited mother on the planet if my son had not been born.

My 13 year old daughter is super-smart and always has been. This is not to say her 10 year old brother isn’t smart, because he is, but she is a different kind of smart. He is so much like me and she is everything that I never was.

I remember the report cards saying that I didn’t apply myself, wasn’t living up to my potential, couldn’t stay on task; the thing I don’t remember is anyone telling me that was unacceptable. There was no one standing over my shoulder making sure I got my homework done or helping me study for tests. There was no one pushing me.

This is why my daughter is different. She doesn’t have anyone doing those things for her either, because she does them for herself. Sure, I am here if she needs my help (unless it’s algebra, because COME ON, that stuff is hard), but for the most part she does everything on her own.

Unlike what I have to do with my son, I don’t ever need to ask her if she’s finished her homework, studied for extra credit, or push her to do more reading. She is responsible, studious, and bright. She’s not always the best listener or especially kind to her little brother, but when it comes to school she works really hard. School, eye-rolling and deep sighs she has down pat. Also, she’s really good at not unloading the dishwasher.

But, that whole school thing? It’s the reason why I’m putting pressure on her to be something great.

I don’t want her to find my expectations anxiety-inducing and I don’t want her to burn out, but I want her to do her best. I want both of my kids to work at the highest level they can, because I didn’t. And, if there’s anything I’ve learned as a parent, it’s that I have to live vicariously through my children.

Deep inside, I feel that I’m doing my best by telling my daughter she has it in her to take her life in any direction she sees fit. And, it’s about time I started living up to my potential.


  • Mom Off Meth

    I have one like that. He started in special ed too, and now is a self-starting over-achiever. Who knew? I have one who is dyslexic too. I would have flip-flopped those two in the achievement department. You just never know. Love them both and their differences.

  • Desiree Eaglin

    I was similar to you in grade school and didn’t start applying myself until college, then I excelled. As an adult, I am very capable and responsible. The thing to remember is that even highly capable and responsible people need help and advice sometimes too. Even if they heavily sigh and eye roll while you’re helping. 😉

  • Vicki

    Loved this post. You are a great mama! Both of your kids are special. I love how you honor their individuality.

  • Shannon

    Oh my! I could have written this. My report cards said the same things as yours, and my daughter’s report cards? Yeah, they kick mine in the ass. Part of the reason is because she’s smarter than I was, but mostly because she expects it of herself.
    As a parent, I find it very difficult to walk that fine line between expecting too much and expecting too little of them. B’s (or C’s or whatever) are fine if that is the very best they can get. But, if they are capable of getting A’s, then that is what I expect. Too harsh? Perhaps, but I wish I had these expectations of myself when I was in high school.

    • Momo Fali


  • AnneG

    *high-five me!*

  • BusyDad

    The worst thing I do is compare my own progress as a 5th grader to my kid’s. I don’t voice it, but I use it as a gauge to silently stress out inside. I know everyone develops at their own pace, but it is impossible to parent unbiased. At least he is way cooler than I ever was.

  • Mama D

    I was always like your daughter and my son is like you…the whole “didn’t apply myself, wasn’t living up to my potential, couldn’t stay on task” thing is right out of his report card. I tell him it’s unacceptable all the time, though. Trying not to be a tiger mom, but it is so damn hard! He just has too much going for him to not use it…

  • Melisa

    Oh my gosh, you are a great mother and a great person. I’ve never thought you weren’t doing your best, ever, in regards to anything.

    I love what Shannon said about walking that line between expecting too much and expecting too little. It’s tough sometimes!

    And I love your kids. By the way, when are they coming to Chicago for a visit? The Ferris Wheel is calling.

  • Kevin

    This post describes me very well. Underachievers unite!
    Only difference, everyday homework time are some of the biggest prize fights ever in this household.
    ADHD in our two entirely different kids is quite the chore in the afternoons.

  • Mare

    Really good. My daughter was the same way…just bright and motivated. My boys dragged along, needed all kinds of prodding. We all want our kids to do their best and not be lazy or apathetic. I didn’t “get” school either, until college, when I went later in life. My boys humbled me too. You can’t deny their weaknesses, when you had them yourself. 🙂

  • Arnebya

    Algebra. *shudders* School is perhaps one of the few ways my oldest daughter isn’t like me (otherwise, we’re entirely too similar). She doesn’t push herself. In fact, she is satisfied with being marginal. As long as she’s not failing, she’s good. The middle girl though? Everything comes naturally to her (like it did for me (except note algebra shudder above. Apply said shudder to all things math related)) and when it doesn’t, she works at it. The one thing I never wanted them to see/know was my failings with the numbers. I didn’t want them to see that daddy does math, mommy does English/writing/why did they stop diagramming sentences? It’s hard not to compare them to when I was their age but it’s even harder to not push them to be more.

  • meleahrebeccah

    “But for the most part she does everything on her own.” | “She is responsible, studious, and bright.”

    My son is like that too. He’s always been very independent. And when it comes to school / homework he gets good grades, he does well on tests, and it all seems to come so easily and naturally for him.

    Meanwhile, when I was growing up, it didn’t matter HOW hard I studied, I would still get D’s & C’s.

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