I have paced and stewed and cried and thrown up. But after a hot shower, a glass of wine, four gluten-free cake pops, and a Xanax, I am now prepared to go there.
Let’s do this.
I love being a mom. For 72.3% of the time, motherhood is a good gig. I am a yeller, yes. Obviously, I tend to eat my feelings. A Pop-Tart every now and then might eventually kill me — but I have killed no one else. Bonus.
And yes, I have been overly observant of others and sometimes voiced it. And yes, I am accountable for raising these humans. (They will require counseling. We have a fund.)
However, they are human beings. Entities all their own, they do and say and formulate opinions and characteristics apart from my madness.
One of them was a bridesmaid at a same-sex wedding the other day. Another one wears Bernie Sanders T-shirts and thinks “Bernie still has a shot.” Another has what appears to be “arrogant” political views and just bought a bumper sticker that says, “You can take my gun when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.” And none of these are the exact standards my husband and I embraced or imposed on them.
And for those of you who don’t know me, we thought we were such great parents that we invited three more children into the mix through foster care and adoption. One of them is a biter. And when I say “biter,” I mean T-Rex, flesh-tearing bites. Another one never ever stops talking, and he will say anything — like, “Why is your head so big?” and “How comes you gots such an ugly nose?” or “I hate your baby. I only likes my baby.”
And after experience with those two, whom we kindly refer to as the vandals, I keep my mouth shut when a child falls into a tiger exhibit or a shark tank at the zoo, because yeah…we will be on the news at least once before these two are raised.
And I don’t want to be “that mom.” You know her, the one who stands nervously next to a squad car while the fire department tries to figure out how to shut down the power grid so your sons aren’t electrocuted. I wring my hands, pray, and question: “Where did they even get a Kentucky Fried Chicken hot air balloon?”
I do watch them.
I do guide them.
I do pray for them.
I cut the crust off their sandwiches, and I clean their ears and clip their nails.
Still, they are a hot mess.
Our 14-year-old can play the piano by ear. She’s had this ability since she was 2. She can also sing — like, really sing. And we take no credit for this. As a matter of fact, we think it’s weird and creepy. We sleep with our door locked because we are afraid of her. We tiptoe around her, fully confident we might make her mad and she will start a fire with her mind.
Of course, we are glad she is talented, and we hope these abnormalities pay for her college. We daydream she becomes rich and famous and cares for us in our old age. But her accomplishments aren’t our accomplishments.
She’s an entity.
She’s her own person.
And in this society, we tend to attach our parental superiority to our children. Furthermore, we have a tendency to point the finger when a kid messes up — and it’s all on the mom. “She really screwed that kid up.”
I agree with you. I probably did. However, there’s also the stuff that they just came with, characteristics that are part of their makeup.
On my bookshelves, you’ll find tattered copies of books about the strong-willed, impossible, defiant, and learning-disabled. In my journals, you’ll find the prayers of a worried, frazzled, and confused momma. On my blog, you’ll read about the struggles, military schools, failed home schooling, visits to the police station, and terrifying incidents that I have been met with throughout motherhood.
In my heart, you would find the broken pieces of a woman desperate to raise healthy, happy, God-fearing and decent humans. Alas, they are a part of my very existence, but still, they are individuals.
And yes, my kids might do fabulous things. But I promise they will screw up too. They might offend you. They might get arrested. They might lead someone astray. And while I pray this isn’t the case, I can’t make them perfect.
In line at Target the other day, I saw a young mom with a child with special needs. The struggle was beyond my comprehension. The fit the boy was having was painful to watch. Worse still were the looks she received from those around her.
My daughter, myself, and another mom helped her with her purchase and got her and her son out to her car. She was dripping sweat and tears. And as we buckled the exasperated boy into his car seat, she heaved sobs that spoke volumes. “I am not a bad mom. I am doing my very best. My boy is my whole world…”
These children, yes, they are wholly a part of us. Still, they are wholly apart from us. They have a body and spirit separate from us. They have their own talents, abilities, shortcomings, and folly. One of them might require Zoloft. One might require a parole hearing. One might cure cancer. One might have a career at McDonald’s and be happy in that role.
Apart from my hopes and what I deem a grand existence, they are an entity all their own.
So I wrote this blog for myself and the momma at Target just so you would know:
My kids aren’t perfect, and neither am I.
But I am a good mom.