Last week I scolded Jace, my cheeky twelve-year-old, for intentionally stepping on a crack and pointing it out to me. “How’d that feel, Mama?” As soon as I said, “You’re just being mean,” I realized how hurt I sounded over this little school yard rhyme. And how (possibly) absurd that was. (I don’t think that kind of humor is necessary – that’s why my reaction was only possibly absurd.)
I’m 37 years old. (The other day I said 36, but was quickly corrected by another child…so, now I know.) I should be able to let snotty, pre-teen remarks roll right off my back, but often they hit me hard in the gut instead. I also don’t respond well to:
- comments about my lack of skill in backing up and/or parking
- someone pinching their nose when they smell dinner cooking
- anyone rolling their eyes when I answer their questions about what’s for dinner
All of these things leave me feeling like not enough for my kids. I think, “They obviously need more – someone who can cook and drive and joke around. But, they’re stuck with me,” and hang my head.
Then, there are the failures of motherhood that I see in our lives.
- children planning for the next gift-getting holiday before the sun sets on the current one
- the incessant picking, poking, and general irritation of siblings
- passing gas and giving high-fives (or knuckles because Tyler won’t high-five because the Lego Ninjago ninja don’t)
- the kids being loud all. the. time.
This summer, Jace responded to the question, “What does your mom need to work on?” by saying, “Parenting.”
And then, there are the general, day-to-day annoyances of motherhood:
- kids getting up to pee, again, after they’ve been properly kissed good night and tucked in to bed
- hearing “Mama…mama…mama…” all day long. Every day.
- having to give instructions more than once, or twice, or four times
- urine on the outside of the toilet
I really do find myself feeling like it’s too much for me. I wonder how I got these three incredible lives to try not to screw up and how badly I am. I wonder whether I’ll scream or ball up and cry when one of them decides to say they hate me. I think about how hard some of those days with toddlers were and wonder how these times can be so different and just as hard. I wonder if I’m too sensitive to be a mom. I wonder if I’m making any difference at all.
- “Mama! Guess what we saw? A crawfish! And we think it was carrying eggs and once we realized she was pregnant we left her alone.”
- “Mama, can I have just one more hug before you go?”
- “You’ve got great kids.”
- “Mama, can I sit with you?”
- “Mama, can you help me?”
- “Mama, can I help you?”
- “I’ll babysit anytime! I love your kids!”
- “Thank you for taking such good care of our grandkids.”
- “Mama, I love you.”
Or possibly my favorite, “Honey, you’re a good mom.”
So, truth be told, I can wonder all I want if I’m the right mom for these kids. If I’m a good enough mom. If I’m too emotional. It doesn’t matter one bit what I question. I’m what they’ve got. I’m far from perfect. But I’m it.
Motherhood is not for the faint of heart, and I’m not always sure that means it’s for me. In the end, though, I am making a difference. I am enough. And when I’m unsure of those things, someone will let me know. Probably more than once…I listen as well as my kids, sometimes.