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.





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.





Emptying the Baby Trousseau

3 03 2012

This started out as a hand-written note (yes, people still write those), but then for some reason I felt compelled to turn it into a blog post. Maybe someone out there needs to read it, or maybe I’m just a raging narcissist. You be the judge!

Before I ever got pregnant, I expected to have girls. I had good reason—Car’s brothers had only managed to spawn two sons at that point. (Even now, we contribute 1/3 of the Smith clan’s naturally-born grandson population.) Then I got pregnant which, as you know, didn’t go very well the first three times. However, in two of the three pregnancies I lost, we knew the gender: girl.

With girls on the brain, I did the natural thing many a baby-hungry woman has done: I bought baby clothes. If I saw something ridiculously cute on sale, I snatched it up. I filled a Rubbermaid tub with clothes fit for a princess and dubbed it my “baby trousseau.”

After my third loss, the baby trousseau was discreetly tucked away along with other baby-related items. Friends would have babies and I’d buy them gifts, but obviously I wasn’t going to take anything from my bin—that was stuff for my baby.

Four years passed, and I was finally blessed with my miracle baby, who just happened to be a boy.

My brother’s wife had a baby—the first girl on our side of the family. “Oh, she would look so cute in this outfit I have!” I said, and with a little pull at my heart, I opened up the big blue bin and found something perfect for my new niece.

Three more years, and another miracle—again, a boy. This time, a strong (very welcome) feeling that my childbearing years were over.

Little by little, my baby trousseau has dwindled as my acceptance has grown. Last week I opened it up to find a gift for a friend and discovered I’d reached the last of the items from my blue bin of princess clothes.

Emotions are funny things.

I have no desire to keep girl clothes at my house. I’m thrilled I’ll never have another baby. Yet here I sit, weeping because my baby trousseau is now empty.

Still, that bin can now be filled with rocks and cars and Legos (and skinny contortionist boys). I doubt it’ll stay empty very long.

I won’t be the mother of girls in this life, and that’s okay.

I’m the mother of boys. It’s not at all what I expected, but it’s glorious.





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?





Curse You, Perry the Platypus!

10 08 2011

‘Round these parts we love Phineas and Ferb. If you don’t know who Phineas and Ferb are, you either don’t have contact with young children or you have no exposure to the Disney Channel. (Being cable-free, our access comes from Netflix. This is a beautiful thing, as I don’t have to endure random scrolling ads for their other horrifying programs.)

This is Perry the Platypus, aka Agent P.

Words cannot express my great love for Perry the Platypus. He’s easily the best part of Phineas and Ferb. Don’t bother arguing with me, people. Y’all know how that ends.

So we’ve been watching a little too much Phineas and Ferb these days, but it’s a welcome change from Dora and Diego (or, in the case of Big G, documentaries about volcanoes and space). The kids enjoy it, I enjoy it—heck, even Car enjoys it, and he’s not much of a TV person.

Anyway, today was a pretty average day. High points, low points, y’all have read about how things go. The boys have started wrestling a lot with each other (or is it “wrassling” when little kids do it?) and that usually ends in tears, at which point I get to give the “that’s what happens when you play rough” speech. Good times.

Evening rolled around and we gathered the troops for dinner, at which point Big G came running into the kitchen and promptly popped Little G straight in the nose with his fist.

What. The. Hell.

You know a kid is perfectly aware of what he’s done wrong when you find him hiding under a desk. But you know, Little G was more stunned than hurt (go figure) and what I wanted to know more than anything else was what Big G could possibly have been thinking. It’s what every parent wants to know…well, about pretty much everything our kids do. Frankly, I didn’t expect a good answer, so what he said really surprised me.

“I just wanted to see how Perry does it.”

Oh, crap.

We had a conversation about cartoons vs. reality and TV vs. real life. He apologized to Little G and I learned a valuable lesson: kids are dumb.

Ha! I kid. Seriously, though, it never crossed my mind that my child would try to imitate a cartoon secret agent platypus. Even typing that makes me giggle uncontrollably. I suppose I could write a few paragraphs on the importance of what kids watch on TV, but you’re smart people. I think you get that.

Are we going to stop watching Phineas and Ferb? Nah. It’s too hilarious. Will I continue to remind him that TV and real life are separate entities? You bet your sweet bippy I will.

*Big G says that since he can’t practice punching his little brother, we should create some sort of 3D model of Dr. Doofenshmirtz (Perry’s nemesis) that he can practice punching.

**I suggested one of those inflatable things that kids punch that bounce back up. You know, the ones with the rounded bottom? He wouldn’t go for it. Apparently those have a little too much fight in them.

 





Because Sometimes I Hide in the Bathroom

20 07 2011

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.

Or something.

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.





(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday – Traffic, or “It’s time to check Big G’s eyesight.”

6 07 2011

Big G (as we sit in our motionless car): "Mom, there really isn't any traffic."

And this, my friends, is why 5-year-olds aren’t allowed to drive. They’re obviously stupid.

Ha! I’m kidding.

Mostly.