There have been lots of things in my life I have been unsure of. Will I ever find a “career” past just a job? Was I ever going to be a wife? If so, was I going to be a good one? Will I get to travel as much as I want to? Will I ever feel financially secure? But there was one thing I was sure of and I mean, down to my core sure of. I would be a mother and I was going to be a good one. I wasn’t the only one who thought it either, people would comment all the time how they thought I would naturally be a good mother, and I believed every last one of them. I would be there to wipe the tears, the noses, make birthday cakes, look for bugs, read bedtime stories and find all the joys in the small things.
I do those things I set out to do as a mother, I wipe the tears, the noses and I insist on making the birthday cakes every year. There are moments that truly bring me to my knees in their beauty. But being a good mother that I was sure I was not doing as well as I could. I didn’t have the patience with my two boys, the know-the-right answer all the time kind of parenting that I thought would be natural. I didn’t have legos in zip loc bags by kit, books perfectly lined on a book shelf, floatie toys eventually disintegrate in my pool. My son was the last to learn his sight words in preschool, my kids NEVER go to bed on the first go around. I am pretty sure I have cursed a bit too loudly when I have lost my patience when the boys fighting got the best of me. All of these things combined with the time I have to spend out of the home at work full time has morphed my mommyhood into some sort of foreign life that I barely recognize.
I don’t set goals often but when I do, I generally achieve them which may be half the reason I don’t set them often. I don’t like to fail but failing is usually what I felt like I was doing as a mother. It was and still is a harsh reality of motherhood that hit me like a ton of bricks. I was constantly second guessing my stance on parenting and constantly changing my tactics. I don’t think of myself as a perfectionist, in fact I am somewhat too accepting of things being “just fine” when it comes to hosting a birthday party or having friends around. On the other hand, when it comes to parenting, I always had the feeling that I could be doing something better.
I recently took my boys on a trip to visit family and friends for my Dad’s 70th birthday on my own while my husband was away for work. We travelled on a flight to Boston that started with an hour and half delay on the tarmac where the guy in front told me to get control of my kid’s midway through. Due to some unforeseen health issues, we slept in 4 different places over the course of 5 nights. Man, oh man, things did not go smoothly and I felt like I was flaying most of the time. The car trips had the boys screaming and throwing things, the bedtime was 2 – 3 hours behind, my youngest even kicked my aunt just after he spit at her. I was beside myself and I confided in a friend who had older, well behaved kids that I felt like I was failing. Instead of being supportive she unintentionally became judgmental- you know, the little comments “I guess I was just much more strict” or “Maybe you should watch Supernanny” and they went on from there.
First I cried and my sweet boys were there to wipe my tears and give me hugs. When we made it back home I had time to reflect. WHO am I to open myself up for judgment on these little guys?? No, life is not what I anticipated, my husband travels on board a boat for 28 days at a time, I work full time and having boys who are rough and tumble, close in age has definitely been shocking at times. It is not an excuse to feel sorry for myself and second guess who I am or more importantly, who they are.
I am a strong woman, I am a strong mother and I am a loving wife, daughter, sister, and friend. I can do this. Since then I have a whole different attitude. I know what I want to achieve- happy, healthy, caring, kind, loving boys. If I don’t change me first, then they will never become that.
Since then I no longer apologize for them. When the old lady at the store looks at me kind of scared and says, “Wow, two boys”, I no longer make a funny remark like “I know nothing can prepare you for THIS”. Instead I hold my high, look right down at them and say, “It doesn’t get much better, does it?” When they misbehave, it doesn’t cause me anxiety and continual question what I am doing wrong that is allowing for the behavior to happen. I am more grounded and have a confidence that I never had before. The best part is that they are now calmer, kinder, more loving, and better behaved.
I am grateful for the trip. It made me find my voice, the earth below me and the true joy in being what I always knew I would be: a perfectly imperfect mother to my children.