I believe certain women are born nurturers—something within them is programmed to mother every child who enters their home. These are the women whose homes become the neighborhood hub; children and teenagers enter and exit in a never-ending stream. Snacks are distributed. Commercials are filmed.
I am not one of these women. I never particularly enjoyed babysitting or holding babies, and as I matured I wasn’t even sure I wanted to have children of my own.
Please don’t interpret this as me saying I’m a craptastic mother. In my moments of stunning clarity, I can tell you I’m a great mom. Not only are my children fed and clothed, but (far more importantly) they know they are loved. They’re disobedient and I get angry at them and they get angry at me and still they know that mom loves them. I believe that’s knowledge which will stay with them and serve them well in life.
This is, rather, a post about my inevitable craptastic mom moments—every woman has them—and how they undermine my confidence in my mothering skills when I already feel like I started at a disadvantage.
Can you tell it was a rough day in the Smith home?
The boys and I were playing a game on the computer, and they started wrestling. I asked them to stop, but really, who listens to mom? Mom is a killjoy. Mom’s sole purpose is to suck the joy out of the lives of small children everywhere. So I very calmly (because I’m mature and stuff) closed the laptop and put it away.
I had no idea this would magically morph me into one of the horsemen of the apocalypse, but apparently that’s what happened, judging from the Level V Meltdown Big G launched into. He screamed, he cried, he thrashed and flailed. “I wanted to play games!” And then he hit me.
It was an accident, so I let it go with a warning. “Hit me again and you’ll go to your room.” He turned his tear-stained face to me and wailed, “I want to play gaaaames!”
“I know, but you’ve lost that privilege. I’m sorry.”
“Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh!” He reached out and whacked me.
I picked him up and hauled him back to his room, but here’s the problem with kids: they don’t do what you tell them to do. Like, ever. And I’d just had it. My fists were clenched and I’d hit that moment where I realize that even though I’ll never do it, I kind of get how people lose their tempers and hit their kids.
I hate that moment. If you have kids and haven’t had that moment thus far, kudos to you.
“You have two choices: you can stay in your room for some time away from mom, or you can go in the living room and watch TV and mom will spend time in her room away from you. I don’t care what you pick. It just needs to be away from mom.”
“But mom, I just want to be with you!”
“You keep hitting me. I don’t like that and I don’t want to be with you right now.”
So I tried hiding under my covers and pretending I didn’t have children. Shut up. I didn’t say it was my best idea or my finest moment. Oddly enough, it didn’t work, and when everything was said and done, you can probably guess from the title of this post how all of this ended.
That’s right. I went in the bathroom, turned on the fan, and locked the door. I felt like a failure—not just as a mother, either. I’d pretty much failed as a human being.
I’d like to tell you there was a great resolution to all of this, but life is never that simple. When I finally emerged from the bathroom there was more yelling, and by the time Car got home I handed the boys to him and finally got my chance to hide under the covers.
But here’s the awesome thing about raising kids who know they’re loved: at the end of the day, Big G gave me a big hug and a kiss. He told me he loved me. All the ugliness from earlier today vanished from his memory, and he felt secure in the knowledge that mom loves him no matter what.
Sometimes I hide in the bathroom, but really? I’m a pretty fantastic mother.