Monday, October 22, 2012

Perhaps My Inadequacies Are Just Wonderful In Disguise

As a Mom of young children, it's not unusual for me to be up in the middle of the night. Though it isn't every night anymore, let's take a moment and reflect on how awesome it is to not be there anymore, but it does still happen more than I would like. Someone's scared, sick, or simply awake and wants someone else to be too. 

I'm almost always the lucky winner to be awoken as company, probably because I'm so awesome to hang out with during the day. That's it, right?

Going back to sleep isn't always easy, so I pray. I usually pray for other people in my life, a struggling friend, my children, my neighbors, etc. but the other night when I found myself lying over the side rail of Stella's crib at 1 am, singing Blackbird for the 10th time, I prayed for me, just me.

Selfish perhaps, but necessary.  I have had a difficult few days.

In all honesty it has been building for a while. Since the return of Alex and Stella, I have felt overwhelmed by the chaos around here.  Their presence makes my family feel whole again, though Stella also makes it infinitely more challenging.

Oh and there is a lot more screaming too.

An example you say?

This was a few Wednesdays ago, moments after I should have been meeting with Aiden's first grade teacher.

I arrived a full 15 minutes early for my parent-teacher conference, fully aware that I might have to take a few extra minutes getting Stella from the school office to the classroom.  I did not, however, anticipate a full blown freak out when I printed my temporary badge and Stella insisted she also required proper documentation. 

I can be so short sighted sometimes.

She screamed while I paced and prayed for peace and strength, periodically checking to see if she would snap out of her meltdown.  Finally she decided she was done, looked at me with the most sad eyes ever, and asked for her pacy and blankey and took my hand to walk to the classroom.

Just inside the school doors, a woman had been hanging posters in the hallway during this entire episode.  She gave me a sympathetic smile and told me I was doing a wonderful job.  She told me I was a good Mom.

I, of course, instantly started bawling and couldn't even look at this kind woman. 

I don't deal well with kindness when overly stressed.

My nerves were raw and I could not have felt further from the title of good Mom, except for the fact that I didn't just abandon my screaming daughter, hop in my minivan, and blow off Aiden's teacher for a mid-morning cocktail...because that thought actually went through my mind and since I was praying I assumed there was a chance that God had actually suggested it, which would make it OK. 


I am reasonably confident Aiden's teacher is now concerned about my mental state since I walked in to her room for the conference late, still crying, mascara under my eyes due to a recent switch to non-waterproof mascara which Origins forced me to buy, and a still very uncontrollable toddler. She essentially wrapped up her discussion about Aiden and offered her time to talk to me about anything else I needed, probably because she feels I must not have time for proper psychological assistance. 

She is a very, very nice woman...thank goodness.

I've essentially been continuing on a string of parenting mis-steps ever since.  I can't seem to remember anything.  I've forgotten to send notes to school for Aiden to participate in running club, forgotten to pick him up from running club, neglected homework assignments and follow up on school work for Cole,   I haven't sent games for game day, orders for art fundraisers, or show and tell selections.  I abandoned Cub Scout cookie sales for days on end and last weekend I watched several newly released episodes of Gossip Girl on Netflix instead of completing four very simple tasks involving super glue that the boys have been begging me to do for weeks.

What the hell?

I've been feeling guilty and wallowing in my frustrations for weeks now.  I've run a recording for too long about how I'll never measure up in the Mom world, and I should definitely commit to permanent waterproof mascara and screw the natural stuff that makes me look strung out.

My mistakes and laziness are breeding more mistakes and laziness.  It's a really ugly life cycle that I am sure could be ended if I could just find time to find mental health assistance from someone other than my son's first grade teacher, though she really did a great job that day. 

Perhaps I should just start emailing her?  Including notes with thoughts, emotions, and questions in his take-home folder?

But then, this morning, my cleaning woman took her hands and placed them on my shoulders after I was playing in the backyard with my kids.  She had the kindest voice and said, "you're a really good mother." 

I hadn't mentioned anything to her about my recent feelings of inadequacy, and I don't think she caught me crying in the corner, but I can't be sure.  I do pay her, but I am reasonably confident she isn't a mental health professional....unless Alex somehow worked it so that we could have our house cleaned by a licensed counselor for fear of me. 

It really isn't important.

Her words meant the world to me, and for a little while at least, I believe them.  She is here in the thick of it all, watching me make them food and tame their tantrums.  She sees my laundry and my less than ideal methods of dealing with the mass amounts of school art (mostly bury in trash except for the really special ones.)  She knows. 

I am going to forget stuff, maybe I'll forget a lot of stuff all at once like recently.  I'm going to lose my temper and make a poor decision, like giving Stella a blue lollipop when she would have been just as happy with a non-staining clear one, or choosing to let Cole play Wii for two hours straight, but that's OK.

Previously mentioned, ill-advised blue lollipop.

I'm a mostly fantastic Mom, with some crappy moments mixed in to teach my children about making mistakes, apologizing, and how to solve problems like getting gum out of your hair or asking for an extension because you had to watch Gossip Girl. 

So really, when you think about it, even my mistakes are making me awesome because I'm giving them skills.  Geez, I hope I'm not being too wonderful.

That could really screw them up.

Hair with gum from 2 year old gum addict.


Judy Susan said...

Let's see, if you do not make mistakes, just how is that your children will ever learn that mistakes and forgiveness are a part of life?

I would be extremely concerned if I constantly read what a wonderfully perfect mom you are.

Reality is, none of us are perfect moms. All we can hope for is that when they look back on their lives with us, they say..THAT WAS A WONDERFUL LIFE... Not a perfect life, but a wonderful life.

When they are at our age, and say.. I need my mom.. then you know,, you got it right.. until then, you just sneak a gin and tonic when the times are tough, and hope for the best..

Great post.. I loved it..

Judy Susan said...

Hey come play drunken meme with me.. you would be great at it, and.. well.. it would just flat out be funny how you answer question number one!

Samantha said...

Thanks for posting reality and letting us all know we are in this together. I want to be JUST like you. For real. Also? I'm totally inspired to pray for all other moms the next time my kid is vomiting on me. :)

Masala Chica said...

You know - the fact that you worry about what kind of mother you are means that you probably are a great one. I suffer from mommy inadequacy all the time - like really bad. But we don't have to be perfect and our kids will love us the way we are and sure - people might think we are a bit unhinged. But that - that is motherhood. And it's ok. One day we will laugh. I don't know when, but I am sure we will.

lcarp51 said...

I stopped reading all the Mommy blogs because I got more depressed. They're supposed to be all helpful and stuff but they just made me feel inadequate. I decided not to step up my game, just ignore the over achievers.
By the way, would it be helpful if I told you my 5 year old melts down when she can't open the door? Or would that make it worse...