Being Their Mother

17 Comments

So why am I such a basket case? If I have the benefits of all these modern amenities, why am I so stressed?  And what about my children? What will my kids remember about their childhood? Will they remember the days that I cried because I was overwhelmed? That I yelled at them in frustration? That I showed my emotions, and when they asked why I was angry, or sad, or just in a bad mood, that I was honest and told them that sometimes being a mom isn’t so easy?  - See more at: http://www.scarymommy.com/their-mother/#sthash.rKUIhT74.dpuf

One of three things happened in my childhood.

Either (A) it was pretty idyllic,

(B) all that Sun-In I put in my hair turned my brain cells to mush

or, more likely, (C) my parents handled parenting with a lot more grace than I.

I started thinking about this during one of my mommy meltdowns. The ones that are preceded by something like:

Step 1: I walk into house.

Step 2: My 6 year old asks me: “WhatsForDinnerCanWeHaveMacAndCheeseByTheWayYouForgotTo
SendInMoneyForTheClassWinterCelebrationThatWeHadTodayAndRileyTookMyRainbowLoom
IWantItBackCanIGoToMaisiesHouseTommorrow”.

Step 3: My 10 year old says: “IhateMacAndCheeseCanWeHaveChickenThatsMyRainbowLoom
NotHersButShePunchedMeAnywayIForgotToTellYouIHaveToGetPosterboardForMyProjectTommorrow”.

Step 4: My husband tells me he has a last minute work meeting and has to leave in 15 minutes.

Within moments, the kids are yelling at each other, I am yelling at the kids, and my husband is yelling at me for yelling at the kids.

When I think back to my own childhood, I don’t recall my parents struggling with this chaos. Both of my parents worked full time, and yet they managed to successfully raise children without the internet and iPhones. I didn’t text them to come pick me up when I was ready to come home, they trusted that when they told me they’d pick me up at Roller Palace at 9, I’d be outside waiting. We sat down to eat every night without the assistance of a microwave. Clothes shopping consisted of physically taking us to a store once a season and making us try on clothes. It was tortuous and boring, but no one sat us down with a phone to entertain us while our sister tried on yet another pair of acid washed jeans.

Despite the lack of the conveniences I have at my disposal, I never saw them overwhelmed or beleaguered.

So why am I such a basket case? If I have the benefits of all these modern amenities, why am I so stressed?

And what about my children? What will my kids remember about their childhood? Will they remember the days that I cried because I was overwhelmed? That I yelled at them in frustration? That I showed my emotions, and when they asked why I was angry, or sad, or just in a bad mood, that I was honest and told them that sometimes being a mom isn’t so easy?

Or will they remember that I’m a really amazing cuddler? That I love them fiercely? That I try to make them laugh at least once a day?

Will my daughter remember that I set my alarm to wake up at the crack of dawn and watch all four hours of the royal wedding with her? Will she remember that I officiated at her Barbies’ wedding, and threw them a hell of a bridal shower? Will she remember my April Fool’s Day pranks?

Will my son remember how excited he got the first time I played Nirvana for him? How I loudly I cheered at every baseball game, even those brutally hot July playoffs? That when he wanted to try snorkeling this year, I held his hand as we jumped into the ocean together, and then towed him back to the boat an hour later when he was too tired to swim any more?

I don’t know that I will ever be a graceful, calm parent. I don’t know that I will ever be able to shield my children from seeing me struggle. But I’m committed to making sure that their childhoods have plenty of joyful memories, and hope those are the ones that define me best as their mom.

But just in case, I’ve got a stash of Sun-In I’ve been saving for their teenage years.

Comments

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  1. 1

    Gigi says

    Surprisingly, they remember those good moments far more than the bad. While I gnash my teeth and regret so much that I’ve done over the years, he remembers all the cuddles, the games, the trips and the love.

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  2. 2

    says

    Perhaps all the gadgets are a source of stress. They’ve replaced what we call “trust” after all. You say it here: we used to trust our kids to show up at the right place at the right time. They don’t have to show up anywhere if we rely on gadgets instead of structure.

    To be honest, I think about (and write about) this sort of thing a lot — or at least it percolates pretty close to the surface. I remember not worrying about talking to people for a whole day when talking to them wasn’t a possibility. These days, I feel like it’s convenience that makes my life miserably stressful. I can’t tell you how often I use “Flight Mode” on my phone.

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  3. 4

    rose says

    i at one time called a sitter for the kids while i drove to my moms house. I needed to get out and didnt knoe where to go, so i turned to my mom. We sat there on the couch sipping tea while i ”ugly cried” my heart out to her. I asked her what i was doing wrong and what she had done better. I told her i never remember seeing my mother ever be stressed or ever yelling or ever not clean the house or ever seeing my father be distant, he was in love with her and i remember how cute they were for as long as i was under their roof. My mother took a deep breath and said, ”glad that is what you remember. I was certainly not perfect and i am a mother just like you, i have had my moments like any other.” and i was relieved. She told me children dont see the bad, they’ll forget that you had a meltdown when suzie spilled her cereal on the floor, but they’ll remember how you kissed her and told her its alright and ask if they’d like another bowl. I left and went to my kids and showered them with love. I will forever remember that day. May you rest in peace mom.

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  4. 9

    says

    The only thing that I remember about my mother during my childhood is that she was always stressed out and angry. Literally, that’s all I remember. I love my mom a lot and she was a great mom in a lot of ways but I don’t have one single memory of her playing with me, just yelling. And I’m more stressed out than she was, so I fear what my kids will remember about their own childhoods :(

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  5. 10

    Mary says

    I was just talking to a friend about an incident when I was about 4… I’d gone out to get the mail, and coming in, I walked across the ice on a shallow pond that formed every year in the lower part of our front yard. I fell, the ice broke, and I was up to my neck in water (lying on my back).

    I remember clearly , crawling up the hill, soaking wet, crying, and how hard it was to force myself to move. It was so cold I *hurt*.

    It probably took me 10 minutes to climb out and make my way back into the house. I was wearing one of those full-body snowsuits and it was completely soaked. By the time I got inside, it was also frozen- it was stiff with the ice.

    My dad never noticed I’d gone outside. He was napping (Dad was 60 when I was born. Mom was 40.)

    When I think of the way I raise my kids now, and of how I was raised… or not raised, really, I have mixed feelings. Yes, I yell at my kids sometimes. We fight (they’re teens) and we have issues like any family. I’m not good, even now, at discipline and consistency, and those are areas I need to be stronger in…

    But… if my kids aren’t home, I know what number to call to reach them. I know where they are. If one of them goes for a walk, I know how to find them if I need to go looking. I know who their favorite characters are. What games they like to play. The names of their friends, their favorite colors, their hopes, their dreams, their fears and their traumas.

    Maybe our childhoods are different from our kids’ experiences… but I don’t think that’s always a bad thing. And hopefully, they’ll remember the good stuff. Even with memories like standing in the porch, crying because my hands were too cold to turn the knob on the door… finally managing it because no one came… and then having to get out of that frozen suit and run myself a bath… I remember that there were so many good things too. Fishing trips with Dad. Going to church with Mom…

    Kids tend to remember the good stuff… and your kids have a lot of good stuff to remember. They’re going to be just fine, Mom. (hugs)

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  6. 11

    says

    I totally get it and think the same things you do. It seems every generation waxes nostalgic for the previous generation. The more advanced the “conveniences” of our lives get, the more busy and stressed we get, huh?

    My mom, like Rose’s mom in the comments, also assured me that my kids will remember the awesome stuff and not the bad-mom-day stuff. I’m clinging to that. ;-)

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  7. 12

    J says

    The only real difference I see between now and when my parents raised me, is that my parents were younger when they had kids (and therefore probably less set in their ways than I am now), and mom didn’t return to work until I was already in elementary school. Otherwise, it’s all pretty much the same. Though I remember her getting stressed and MAD (more so in the teenage girl stage–shudder), of course I also remember so many more good memories.

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  8. 13

    Srw27 says

    Yes they will remember all the good stuff that you did for them & the day you were a mess? They won’t give it a second thought! And if they do, there’s always therapy lol :D

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  9. 14

    Liz says

    Reading this, and mostly the comments, now I’m starting to wonder if there’s something wrong with me- because I DO remember the bad stuff. Yes, I remember my mom singing to me when I was very young and my dad playing with me sometimes at the town pool, but mostly I remember the constant tension, the guilt trips, the arguing, etc. I honestly don’t remember much of my childhood (and I’m only 25), and most of the memories I do have are from school or with friends, which seems weird. But with my parents, the few memories I do have are mostly negative. And they’re good people, who did their best. Now I’m afraid of what my kids will remember.

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  10. 15

    Kimberly Furnell says

    Just read an article at Ahaparenting that showing your emotions (& handling them well, or apologizing when you don’t!) is great for kids. They learn it’s okay to have emotions and HOW to handle them (or if you’re my kids, they learn to apologize when they throw a hissyfit…by example, because I throw hissyfits & apologize ;-) So I think you’re doing awesome. It certainly sounds like it. There are, after all, no perfect people. Only people who mess up and try anyway and keep loving.

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  11. 16

    Lauren says

    I think it depends on the ratio, if that makes sense. If for every one yelling, crying meltdown there are ten happy or tender moments I think the impression you are left with is happy and tender and vice versa. I screw up all the time, but it gives me hope that I might able to counterbalance it. Also, I hope that I can instill in my daughter that making a mistake is not an automatic fail by showing her that when I say something hateful or have a crying meltdown on the kitchen floor because she will.not.get.out.of.bed for school – I don’t fail as her mommy. I was raised in the mistake=equals fail environment and boy does that make the internal voices wicked and the world awfully scary.

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  12. 17

    Love says

    Have you been hiding in my house? That sounds like every evening here. I don’t know if they’ll remember ALL the good stuff or ALL the not-so-good stuff. All I can do is hope the good outweighs the bad and smothers it into a blur!

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