I am extremely wary about who I take parenting advice from. Especially the unsolicited kind.
Is your advice from a good place? Do you genuinely want to help? Or do you want to soothe your own ego by making yourself feel wise and powerful?
Are you right here doing the dirty work with me? Have you been up at two in the morning with one or more of my children? Are you gonna help me drag this tantruming kid out of this store?
If so, congrats; you are welcomed into my inner advice-giving sanctum. But otherwise? Please understand that the whole time you are talking, I’m probably just nodding and smiling.
Today I ran errands, picked up my stepson from school, did laundry, took a work-related phone call, baked a cake, kept the house clean and attended to various parenting responsibilities. Does this count as ‘having it all?’ Because ‘it’ kind of sucks.
Maybe tomorrow I only have a little of ‘it.’ And maybe ‘it’ could involve a back rub and a glass of wine. That would be awesome.
I have been thinking a lot about my firstborn baby, my little Cam, lately. I am not ready to talk about why just yet but, I’ll just say that he is his own little unique person and I struggle to understand the best ways to be his mom sometimes. I’ve posted this poem over at my other blog, but I want to post it here, too.
there is no difference in the anger that bubbles in your small chest
and what burns like fire in mine.
We are the same
awash in emotion
and I’m in charge
so I should know better.
I worry a lot about your soul
Where it came from
and how to keep it pure.
I am trying so hard to keep my hands away from you,
to end the way our souls have been broken.
What a different word we’d live in, maybe,
if there was some other way
if pain wasn’t bragged on
if we’d look somewhere else.
your grandmother is wrong.
Your mother is wrong.
This maze we fall into is confounding.
How much does this life cost me? I sometimes worry that it will swallow up everything else.
I never thought I would be a stay at home mom. I thought that – like my mom and most of the moms I grew up with – I’d have my kids, put them in a nice daycare, and go right back to work.
But then, steady work seemed to dry up just as I was up to my neck in new motherhood. I do a little freelancing, but I don’t yet have the time to pursue work in great volume and you can’t exactly support a family on a freelancer’s pay.
So now I’m home with my babies – writing and earning very little. I have always believed I’d be a writer and have brought in an income of some kind since I was 14 years old. So, I struggle at times with my place inter world. I’m no Michelle Obama. I’m not some high-powered lady in great shoes doing it all. Honestly, even if I’d never gotten married and had babies, that would never be me.
I’m happy to be here for this time in my children’s lives. I’m happy to serve them now. But I wonder sometimes about what I’m missing. I wonder about what I’ve given up.
One day I’m going to collect all the grocery lists I have made during this period of my life. I keep constant lists of things we need for the house: toilet paper, lemons, hair elastics, celery. So, I’m gonna display them all, row after row after row. Random need after random need. I’m going to call my exhibit ‘Never Ending Trips to Target.’
My children are (in my completely objective opinion) very bright. They ask lots of questions, they test boundaries, they fight, they play 5 million imaginary games. It’s fun! it really is. It can also be exhausting.
I am the quiet, thinky type. I like to be alone in my own head. I like to read. I like to sit down some damn where.
Of course this never happens when the kids are up. So, by the time bedtime rolls around I’m tapped out. I need to crawl back into my shell to rejuvenate.
I’m writing this in the dark, underneath my covers. And it feels amazing.
I think people can sense when you aren’t too steady with your own power. Especially kids. Kids depend on their instincts to learn. They are still figuring out how to maneuver through the world. They don’t have a bunch of experience to draw from, but they have the sense they were born with. So, If you aren’t secure in the role of mommy, they are the first to sniff that insecurity out. Then run wild over you. Kids can be pretty ruthless.
I’d much rather be nice. I actually shrink away from any kind of conflict. Even with adults, I over-think. I worry I’m being too harsh or hurting feelings.
So when it’s time to administer a time-out, I’m just as stressed out as my kids are. I hate hearing them cry and scream. It makes everything inside me bunch up and stand on end. I just want us to hug and have awesome times! Why’d you have to harsh our buzz by hitting your brother, Grace?!
But I know I have to soldier through it so that they learn what is and isn’t acceptable. I do it now so that hopefully I won’t have to deal with worse behavior when they are bigger.
So, no, Cam and Grace won’t like me all the time. Actually, I can pretty much guarantee that they will be pissed at me at some point during each and every day. And that’s fine. We’ll be friends when they are 30. They’ll be able to drink by then anyway.