I Am a Mother

2 05 2014

Since none of you losers were at Listen to Your Mother on Tuesday night (close family excluded), I thought I’d post what I read. You’re welcome. 

 

I Am a Mother

“Why aren’t you wearing any underwear?” I ask for what feels like the millionth time.

“But mom, my underwear has poop on it!”

“Why does your underwear have poop on it? Did you wipe after you used the potty?”

“OOPS! I FORGOT TO WIPE!”

“How on earth did you forget to wipe your bum after you used the potty?”

Let’s be honest here—there’s no acceptable answer. What could he possibly say that would make me understand such a lapse in memory?

So ends another average day in the Smith home.

I believe certain women are born nurturers—something within them is programmed to mother every child who crosses their path. These are the women whose homes become the neighborhood hub; children enter and exit in a never-ending stream. Cookies are baked. 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. Obviously my views changed, and I’m now the mother to two wonderful boys.

Still, being a mom is something that doesn’t flow naturally through my veins. I have to work at it every day

Please don’t interpret this as me saying I’m a terrible mother. In my moments of stunning clarity, I will tell you I’m a great mom. My boys know they are loved. I get angry at them and they get angry at me and still they know that I love them. I believe that knowledge will serve them well in life.

But there are moments.

Moments when bums haven’t been wiped. Moments when tantrums are thrown over the plastic water holder for a grocery store carnation. Moments less like doing homework and more like climbing Mt. Everest.

Moments when I’m sitting at the park watching my kids play and it hits me—I’m so very lonely. Yes, I have friends. I spend time with them and I talk to them, but still, I feel isolated. It’s like I’m in a bubble with my children and even though I can reach out, a thin film will always separate me from others.

Moments when I wonder what the hell was I thinking, becoming a mother?

I think of all the things I could be doing if I didn’t have children. Perhaps I’d actually have my college degree. I’d certainly have more money—maybe I could travel. I’d be so carefree and glamorous and charming and I’d never be caught off guard by the random appearance of a penis or an unhygienic rear end.

Right?

Then I sit on the couch and my eight-year-old comes to sit next to me. It’s been a long day, and we’re both exhausted and ready for bedtime. “I got ready early,” he tells me, and burrows up under my arm. He closes his eyes. “You’re my favorite mommy,” he murmurs as I stroke his hair and he drifts into oblivion.

The next morning my five-year-old slips his hand into mine on the way to the car. I’m amazed by how small and warm his hand is, and how well we fit together.

This. This is what I was thinking.

Is it what I expected? Heavens, no. None of my contemplations on motherhood ended with me hiding in the bathroom, running the fan to drown out the screaming. There are days the reality is more than I can bear, but I’ve come to realize that’s just part of the package. Some moments are gloriously scrapbookable and others, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t mind a device or a potion that erases specific memories.

I wasn’t born to be a mother. I’m okay with that, because it doesn’t change the fact that I am a mother. Motherhood colors my thoughts and shapes my actions.

Now if you’ll hold that thought, I need to break up the underwear-clad wrestling match in the next room.

After all, I am a mother.





Forgetting

3 09 2013

It seems that all I do these days is forget.

It’s the ECT, of course. Electroconvulsive Therapy. I imagine I’ll remember everything, but I immediately forget every detail of my day. Oh, I’m spending the night at my parent’s house tonight? I had no clue. I guess I’d better pack my bag before my dad comes to pick me up.

It’s ridiculous. Unacceptable, really—except for the fact that I’m not so sad now.

I don’t know which is worse; forgetting everything, or being sad.

It’s being sad, right? I’m pretty sure it is.

My eldest child is turning eight on Thursday. I’ve forgotten to buy him a present.

But.

His mom is—if not overjoyed with her existence—less sad.

Have I just forgotten to be sad? Is that what this is? I just can’t tell.

I hate this.

Here’s what I know: My name is Jenny. A doctor gives me seizures to help reset my brain. I’m happier than I was a month ago.

It’s a good thing.





Broadsided

5 02 2013

“Mommy, why did Maggie die in your tummy?”

The simple question takes my breath away.

“She didn’t die in mom’s tummy,” says Big G authoritatively.

“Yes she did!” insists Little G.

I see Car about to step in, and I take a deep breath. I need to handle this.

“Big G. Little G. This is something I’ll explain to you when you get older.”

They look at me curiously. I’ve never used this line with them before.

“But why, mommy?”

Because mommy had to kill Maggie to save her own life.

“It involves a lot of medical stuff, and it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to you right now. When you’re older you’ll be able to understand it, but right now it’s not something I’m going to talk about. Also,” I decide to address the real topic at hand, “it makes mommy feel sad to talk about it sometimes.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t get medical stuff,” says my ever-sensible Big G, and the conversation moves forward.

A reprieve, but now I realize that the day will come that we’ll have this talk.

Broadsided.





How to Suffocate Your Brother

7 12 2012

A tutorial by Big G.

How to suffocate your brother

In case you don’t read first grader, allow me to translate:

First you throw a blanket over your brother.
Next you throw a pillow over your brother.
Then you throw two stuffed animals.
Last you throw two blankets.

Should I be concerned?

*Omitted: Then you tell your parents it was your brother’s idea. Then you pretend you’re sorry.





We’ll Have a Good Time Then

13 06 2012

On Saturday I was running late as usual. (Say it with me: I KNOW! Who would’ve thought?) As I put on my makeup and tracked how much time I had to get ready for the baby shower that started at 10 am, Big G asked me to play Uno with him.

Note: Uno is one of Big G’s current obsessions. Let’s just say If I woke up tomorrow morning and someone told me Uno had been outlawed, I wouldn’t cry.

After I told him I was (as per usual) late for my intended destination, he found a new target.

“Dad, will you play Uno with me?”

“Not right now, Big G,” Car replied, walking to the next room.

As he walked past me, I couldn’t help myself. I burst into song.

“And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon, Little boy blue and the man in the moon…”

Car turned to glare at me. “I HAVE TO USE THE BATHROOM AND I HAVEN’T HAD BREAKFAST.”

He continued on to the bathroom and I collapsed in giggles.

*Fun fact: before I left for the baby shower, I spotted Car playing Uno. Score one for Harry Chapin!
**If you don’t know the song “Cat’s in the Cradle” you’re the luckiest person ever.
***Seriously. That song plays in my head every damn time I tell my kids I don’t have time for something. I despise Harry Chapin for that.




Because Today I Can’t Dwell on the Sad

28 03 2012

This week sucks. I wish I had a poetic way to phrase that—something that would really resonate with you—but when I try to think it through, I remember that I’ve cried every day this week (multiple times on some days) and I’m overwhelmed by the sad and I can’t deal with that right now. I won’t deal with that right now.

Here’s what I’m going to do instead: I’m going to tell you a funny story about my day today. I’m telling you this story because I need to remember that something made me smile today.

I especially need to remember that Big G made me smile today.

Background: We’re nearing a diagnosis for Big G. It will likely be high-functioning autism or pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (PPD-NOS). Both are considered autism spectrum disorders. One of the ways this presents in Big G is his very literal mind. Figurative speech and sarcasm are pretty much lost on him.

Yeah. You read that right. I have a kid that doesn’t get sarcasm. It’s all good, though. I’m only a little bit sarcastic. (You know, kind of like the Grand Canyon is just a little fissure in the rock.)

Anyway, today we were having lunch and Little G started whining that he needed someone to take the crusts off his sandwich. (Little G is going through a serious whining phase. It’s awesome.) “Take them off yourself,” I told him.

“But it’s sooooo hard!” he whined.

“Oh, honey. Do I need to do it for you? Are your arms broken? How terrible for you! I had no idea your arms were broken! I’ll take those crusts off right away!”

At this point Big G felt the need to step in. “Mom,” he said, with utter seriousness, “I think he’s trying to tell you that the crusts are hard to take off. I don’t think his arms are actually broken.”

I started giggling. “Thanks, Big G. I appreciate the heads-up.”

It’s good that Little G has a big brother who looks out for him.

*My mantra for the week: I love my children. They are not minions of Satan sent to torment me.





Shame is Not a Useful Parenting Tool

28 02 2012

Little G, as a super-capable 3-year-old, can now dress himself and put on his shoes. This small step on the road to self-sufficiency makes me inordinately happy. I can’t explain it. It’s just one of those fun milestones that show my boy is growing up the way he should.

Sadly, there’s a distinct difference between “can” and “will,” and lately he’s decided it’s just too much work to do these things for himself. Sometimes I can get him to do it (“I guess you’ll just go to grandma’s in your socks, then!”) but since I’m usually running late, I end up breaking down and doing it for him, which annoys me. A LOT.

Today we were getting ready to pick up Big G from school, and Little G dug in his shoeless heels. He was not going to put on his shoes, and nothing would change his mind.

“Really?” I said, “You can’t put on your shoes? Are you a baby?”

“I’m not a baby!” he yelled at me.

“You must be a baby if you won’t put on your shoes.”

“Don’t say that!”

“I guess if you won’t put on your shoes I’ll have to feed you baby food and give you a bottle.”

“Don’t say that!”

“Here, baby. Let me put on your shoes and we’ll go get your brother.”

I put on his shoes and helped him with his sweatshirt. “Okay, baby. Let’s go.”

“I’m not a baby! Don’t say that!”

And then he started crying.

You guys, I felt about six inches tall. So I did the only thing I could: I apologized to my 3-year-old. I told him I was wrong, and that name-calling is never okay and mommy would try harder to be nice. I asked him to forgive me.

“That’s okay, mommy.”

As we drove to pick up Big G, I realized something. The best way to make sure I won’t do something is to use shame as a motivational tool. Want me to lose a few pounds? For the love of all that’s holy, don’t focus on my lack of self-control. Need the house cleaned? Don’t mention what a disaster I am as a housekeeper.

Why on earth would I think my kids are different?

The good news is my kids are different in one big way—they’re quick to forgive.

Weird. It’s like they’re like me…only better. How does that work?