There is a particular age in childhood that simply makes you rethink your parenting. As a young girl, I remember planning what kind of mother I would be when I grew up. These were the days of pigtails, bangs, KangaRoos tennis shoes (the shoes with the pocket) and riding your friend home on the pegs of your rad BMX bike. Which – by the way – I could never master the 180 front wheel turn. Several times in an effort to impress my peg-riding passenger, I threw in an unexpected “watch-what-I-think-I-can-do” move only to land on the sidewalk head-over-heels in a tangled mess of two bodies and one bike. These were the days of no helmets and daily transportation was either by foot, push scooters or bikes. I never called to see if my friends were home. I just rode my bike up the street or cut through backyards to knock on the door. Open garage doors were always a good sign. No Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook check-ins.
I can remember talking with my girlfriends about the kind of mothers we would be. I, as the oldest of six, wanted at least six children and possibly more. My girlfriend, the youngest of three, wanted one boy and one girl. She was going to be a teacher and I was going to be a doctor, a lawyer (because I met a judge in Girl Scouts that year), a scientist, an architect and the first woman president! I now wonder if “Career Barbie” possibly came out that summer?? We had lengthy discussions about the type of parents we wanted to become. I’m thinking most of these conversations happened after a punishment or being told “no” for some reason or another.
By the late 80’s, I had planned to be a patient, soft-spoken, never yelling, no grounding, surprise party planning, Happy Meal hauling and say-yes-always kind of mom. My kids would be dressed in the cutest matching clothes and I would wear the newest trending skirts, high heels and make-up everyday, everywhere! I’m pretty sure my pre-motherhood parenting plan was something like June Cleaver meets Maggie Seaver (Growing Pains).
As a young mom with one very content baby, I remember silently judging other parents. The parent with multiple noisy children in the grocery store. The constant yoga pants wearing mother with her unwashed hair hiding under a baseball hat and her toddler throwing a fit in public. The bathrobe wearing coffee mug in hand mom yelling to her kids from the garage, as they ran down the driveway to the bus. The speed racing mini-van that cut me off right before the school zone parent. I’m just wondering, since I knew so much about parenting at such a young age, what in hell has happened? Who is this cold coffee mug carrying, bathrobe wearing, towel wrapped hair, screaming banshee that lives in my house and what has she done with my angelic, soft-spoken, career balanced motherhood plans?
My preconceived motherhood goals were heavily misguided. Every morning, I find myself reading or searching for encouraging motherhood devotionals with well-planned intentions of remembering what I have read, praying through the difficult parenting moments, remaining calm in all situations and not turning into an f-bomb dropping, fire blazing from my eyeballs, smoke billowing from the top of my head mother. All good intentions – I would say. AND THEN…they get up. They – the three kids that stole my heart. The three people that I have stayed up with all night long, so they could puke in a bucket and not in their bed. The three people that I have slept on the floor beside constantly checking their forehead for the returning fever. The three people that I look at and think – time, please slow down just a little. How can these people that I love so dearly and unconditionally turn me into a momster?!
Because…they never stop! I can’t walk out of the room without someone questioning where I might be going. I can’t go to the grocery store without three other opinions on my purchase. I have to shower before they all get up, or shower with the fear that one day I am going to have to run out of the bathroom wet and naked with shampoo in my eyes to break up a fight before they break something or themselves.
I realize this is simply a stage of life and I will desperately miss this age, but for the love of everything good in life…really???!!! This is parenting?! Really?! Where are the reality TV shows for this?!
Mothering from rock-bottom is when mom-guilt swarms in with a breath taking punch to the gut. The guilt of trying to be a good parent. The guilt of feeling bad when your child misbehaves. The guilt you give yourself when handing out a well-earned punishment. The guilt of making your children do their chores instead of doing it all like June Cleaver. The guilt of not befriending your teenager. The guilt of feeling like everything that your child goes through is somehow your fault. Mom-guilt is evil!
The last few weeks have been filled with mom-guilt moments. Part of me wants to swoop in and rescue my kids from life (one in particular right now). I want to wrap this one in bubble wrap to be shielded from all the hurtful words the world dishes out. Make a month long reservation at Kalahari and forget about school, chores, homework and discipline. The other part of me secretly looks at boarding school for this child and a luxury spa get-a-way for me.
To all the other overwhelmed mothers, cheers to another cup of cold coffee, morning devotionals and a quick shower! Let us remember that June and Maggie would fall apart in the real world. June would be throwing that brownbag lunch at Ward, Wally and Beaver, as they ran out of the house with a coat halfway on and the backs of their shoes bent and ruined from never untying the laces. Maggie’s always plastered on smile would quickly turn into an angry grimace, as she threatens to leave those not ready for school to fend for themselves so she can get to work on time.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
Dear Heavenly Father,
You know my struggles and my weaknesses. In your presence, I am strong. In your arms, I am encouraged. Keep my eyes on you, Lord. Today, with your guidance, may my words and actions be pleasing to you and build-up those around me.
P.S. and not drop an F-bomb.