Sunday mornings are, unfortunately, not as relaxing as I would like around my home. Because I chose to raise my children Catholic, most Sundays I’m faced with dragging myself and my children out of bed and heading off to church for mass before leaving them all in their religious education classes for the rest of the morning. My kids think it’s great. Smell the sarcasm?
Anyway, this last Sunday morning was particularly rough since we had been out late the evening before, as a family, at a social event. There was lots of groaning (from me) and whining (from them) as I got us all up and moving. Over the next ten minutes, one of my daughters found three ways to insinuate that I absolutely suck as a mother and made sure everyone in the family was made aware of my faults.
Of course she was in a lousy mood and after I had two cups of coffee and a shower I was ready to let the insults slide (especially since one of my “faults” was not getting laundry done before completely running out of clean towels and as I dried myself with a well-used damp towel I had to give her that one). It got me thinking, however, about my overall mothering style and its impact on my children. While I’ve worked very hard over the years to limit my “mom guilt” and keep my overall expectations of myself low enough to maintain a healthy level of self-esteem, my children may not always feel as if I’m the type of mother they may need me to be at any given time. In other words, if my children decide to become parents later on will they model their mothering after me? Or will they feel as if, overall, I wasn’t the kind of mother they will choose to be? Am I considering their unique personalities as I make my choices as a mother? I’m not sure if I can (or want) to answers those questions just yet but it’s definitely food for thought (and fuel for guilt if I should choose).
In the meantime, however, let me list for you the top three reasons why I sometimes suck as a mother (according to my three darling children):
1. I’m not very silly. One of my daughters is one of the silliest human beings on the planet. She’s constantly goofing around, telling jokes, making faces, producing strange sounds and music, and doing her best to make people laugh. I love that about her. It also makes me crazy. Most evenings I’m fighting exhaustion, working hard to push aside the stress of the work day, making a dinner that my family will eat (more on that later), and counting the minutes to bedtime (mine, not theirs). Too often I’m telling her to “please cut it out” and she often responds with, “you are such a fun sponge Mom!” and I feel lousy.
2. I procrastinate. I am an expert procrastinator and do my best work at the very last minute. One of my daughters is the exact opposite and I make her crazy. I have no energy or desire to go through backpacks at night. I usually go through their folders in the morning signing things and reading notices. The downside to this system is often I come across something that takes longer than a millisecond to digest and sign and I’ll be forced to save it for later. I then, of course, forget about it “later” and find it again the next morning when I have no time…you get the idea. My daughter does not appreciate returning forms/assignments late because her mother is a procrastinator. So she’s developed her own system of shoving things in front of me when I least want to deal with them and not leaving the vicinity until I’ve done my motherly job. It’s working for us but I’m beginning to feel a bit like the lazy kid whining about homework in this relationship of ours.
3. I’m a lousy cook. While my food is usually edible, I’m not very creative in the kitchen and I don’t have a lot of time most evenings to produce anything complicated. My family’s diet, therefore, is usually limited to the same 5-7 dinners every week. Unfortunately for one of my children, she doesn’t like 5-7 of those meals. She’s a picky eater and I feel badly (while simultaneously telling her to please try it even though I know she’s “tried it” every week since she switched to solid food). I keep attempting to branch out and make meals she may enjoy but they either taste horribly, take too much time to make, or I simply forget to buy the supplies I need to make a new menu item more than once.
I could have gone on and on with this list as each of my children gave me at least two suggestions including extremely forgetful (i.e. no clean towels and we’ve been out of ketchup for a couple of weeks now), not a great decorator (“Mom, The Property Brothers would HATE this kitchen”), and I’m on my phone too much (ugh, that one hits the soul and I’m working on it). Going back to my original questions, though, I think I need to focus not on whether or not my children will say I was the type of mother they would want to be but instead on whether or not my children will admit that they were loved and cared for despite any flaws their mother may have had. I mean, let’s face it, while I can work on some of this list there are other traits that I simply cannot change at 40. I am who I am. I love my children. They know it. We’re in this together growing and learning. I think we’ll be just fine.