Dear Mother I Will Never Be:
I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately. I’ve had a lot of motherly frustrations. Whining children, blatant ignoring of my instructions to get. your. shoes. on., a baby who is not gaining enough weight to make some doctors happy…. it’s all very stressful sometimes. There’s also your regular run-of-the-mill life stress: bills keep coming in the mail no matter how much I wish them away, my best efforts to get to bed at a good time constantly being foiled by all manner of activities and interruptions, conference calls with clients who either whisper amongst themselves and don’t tell you what they’re talking about or respond to your words with complete silence.
I’m feeling crabby. Inpatient. Tired. Sick of the endless laundry and my dog’s hair all over the place. Here’s an example: Bedtime drives my crazy. You – the Perfect Mother I will never be – look upon bedtime as a sweet ending to the day. It’s a time when you can snuggle up and read to your children, and listen to them whisper their secrets into your ear with sweet baby breath. You kiss and hug them, and tuck their blankets around their toes before heading downstairs to read a book or maybe to your room to take a bath.
But let me give you a reality check, sister. Bedtime these days is always too late, thanks to softball, tball, homework, late dinners and too much sunlight at the end of the freaking day. I’m tired, the kids are tired and if there is one more child out of bed one more time to ask me to go to the bathroom with her I am going to scream. But Perfect Mother, your voice is in my head. I don’t know how you got there, but you’re really annoying. You keep telling me to take my time, and don’t end the day on a bad note by yelling the third time your middle child gets out of bed. You tell me they won’t be this young forever. Someday they will hole up in their rooms and flinch when you try to kiss them goodnight. Enjoy it while it lasts, you say.
You tell me that Perfect Mothers make dinner at home every night. They keep up on the laundry and remember to check the school lunch calendar ahead of time in case there is a lunch someone doesn’t like. Perfect Mothers don’t yell or tell their children they don’t CARE if they don’t like those socks just put on your shoes and LET’S GO! Perfect Mothers never leave the house without a bottle of water, even though it is, in fact, humanly possible to drive 20 miles without a drink of water. Perfect Mothers have their nails painted and their earrings on, and they never spend hours figuring out the logistics of this week’s preschool graduation only to get home, look at the calendar and realize that preschool graduation is next Wednesday.
But this Not So Perfect Mothers has something to say to you. Get OUT of my head!
You Perfect Mothers are not real. You don’t exist. You should not have any power over me. In fact, starting right now I am going to totally ignore you. (And I know how annoying that is because my kids do it to me at least once a day, although they at least have the good sense to pretend they didn’t hear me.) I don’t have to take a guilt trip or some kind of instruction from a goody two shoes who thinks she knows best how to parent my children or run my house. You’re setting impossible standards that no one can meet, so why should I drive myself crazy trying?
Here’s the deal – you leave me alone and I will quit trying to be you. You keep your opinions to yourself and I will keep on loving my kids, making mistakes and doing the best I can, which is really all I can do anyway. Being a mother is a tough job, whether you have one kid or eight, a great husband or a turd, a full-time job or a full-time nanny. Well, maybe it’s kind of easy if you have a full-time nanny, but I couldn’t say for sure about that.
The point is, no mother is perfect and we should all quit trying to be. Even more important, we should not be trying to convince anyone else that we are either. We should all be willing to admit that we lose our cool and yell at our kids, get too tired to put their laundry away, make them wear the same pair of socks two days in a row, let them eat way too much chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese because they just need to eat for god’s sake, and that we would be absolutely delighted to have one entire day all to ourselves. One quiet day in which we could sleep in, read a book, get a massage or maybe even experience the joy of a clean kitchen and living room for more than 15 minutes. It’s okay. We ALL feel this way so let’s agree to laugh about it and support each other.
Yes, Perfect Mother, your days here in my head are done. Although I did like your pearls with the apron and high heels.
Sayonara and good luck finding another gig,
The Not So Perfect Mother