In the magazines, parenting looks like a cruise. When you get there, it’s a tiny rowing boat, in a storm. And some bastard’s not put in any oars.
Confessions of a Bad Mother, Stephanie Calman
I picked up the book quoted above this morning. I concluded that it was the perfect book to read on Mother’s Day. It is a mother’s story, a mother who has made it her mission to admit that she is an imperfect mother in more ways than one and wants to permit you to admit the same and join her club. Literally. The Bad Mothers Club. It’s actually a thing.
Her stories are pure hilarity and do reflect the many bizarre situations you find yourself in when your life centres around the needs and wants of small people. You constantly hold this vision of how you want to be as a mother. Five minutes into your day and you’re already doing the exact opposite of that vision. Well it happens to us all and I want to share mine so you can laugh and feel better about when you fail. So here is my own confession. A description of simply getting in the car with my two children:
I open the front door and feel that immediate anxiety. One of them could trot into the road or take off down the street like road runner. Why do they do that? It is hard not to take it personally when it feels as though your child is making a bid for freedom at the first opportunity.
Right, black ops situation. Be aware and alert. Don’t take anything for granted.
I shut the front door using the eyes in the back of my head to watch them. Oh crap – the car is parked down the street and over the road.
“We have to walk down the road a bit. Stay close. Don’t run off.” Neither child obeys with child A picking up the pace and child B slowing down. They’re creative I’ll give them that.
“Stop!! Wait! Hurry up!” I should have made them hold my hand. But my hands are full with backpacks and Beebee (my daughter’s Baby Annabelle).
Ok, time to cross. Grab their forearms. Make child B carry her own Beebee. Start to cross street and now is the time child A decides to slow the pace.
“I said walk fast, that’s not walking fast. Do you want to be hit by a car?” Not my most constructive comment.
We approach the car and I open the door for child A to climb in and instruct child B to wait whilst I sling the contents of my hands into the front seat at lightning speed. I carry child B round to the other side.
“I want to climb in!” As I place her into her seat.
“Sorry but I’m standing in the road so I just need to get you in quickly.”
“I WANT to climb in!!” Agitation levels rising. I grab the straps on her seat and again ponder why this simple task of strapping the kids into their seats sends my blood pressure to dangerously high levels. I reach under her bottom for the plug and find I cannot locate it and my daughter, who I carry about all the time, feels like a 50kg weight as I try to slide my hand under her to find it.
Child A is kneeling up in his seat and facing the boot when I get to him. He manoeuvres round (after I gently and kindly instruct him to do so) and I strap him in trying to navigate the trains in his hands and lap.
I get in the driver’s seat feeling thoroughly harassed and almost every time, take a deep breath. It’s absurd.
“Can you put a song on?”
“Okay, what do you want to listen to?” Knowing exactly what it will be. It’s the same every time.
“Achoo.” This is a christian song we listen to, which says ‘bless you’ in the chorus. My son seems to think that the song is a polite response to God having done an almighty sneeze. After listening to it on loop six times I change to something I want to listen to. Heaven forbid.
“I DON’T LIKE THIS ONE!” Blood pressure reading: 120/80
“Ok, it’s mummy’s turn to choose now though.”
“I DON’T LIKE THIS ONE!” Bp: 125/81
“Ok!” He starts moaning/crying.
“I SAAAAAID, I DON’T LIKE THIS ONE!”
“I know and I’m sorry but I’m not changing it.” Bp: 125/81
“Yeah?” Bp: 120/80 (I think it’s over)
“I don’t like this song.”
“I KNOW!!!” Bp: 140/90
Great. I’ve been drawn in to a shouting rally with my three year old. I turn the music up and mentally give myself a high five. Oh dear. That’s even worse than the shouting rally. I should read the book Oneupmanship and do it properly. Sigh.
A die cast plane comes flying through to the front of the car.
“Thanks for telling me you shouldn’t hold your toys in the car.” I am quietly congratulating myself for not losing it when I get a feeling of déjà vu.
Oh. He did that yesterday and I said the exact same thing. How did he get the plane again? This kid is a mastermind. I flit between fear and pride. I need to watch him more closely, I conclude.
Ah, yes. He threw it at his sister yesterday and obviously climbed across and retrieved it from her footwell just as I was reaching around in the deep abyss of her car seat for the ellusive plug.
I arrive at our destination sweating with the knowledge that it’s but an hour or two until I have to do it all over again…
It’s funny how funny it all is, don’t you think?
I was pondering this in church this morning and reflecting on how God probably finds us pretty funny too. In all our stubbornness and stupidity.
“Oh bless, she’s dowloaded another exercise app. We all know where this is going… Oh look, a week later and she hasn’t even opened it yet. She’s adorable.”
But the difference is, He always finds us loveable. Always delights in us.
On Mother’s Day I hope you will take the time to remind yourself that you are (most probably) a good mother. Believing something about yourself makes you more likely to achieve it. That’s not just some positive thinking guru’s good idea. That’s kind of what my faith can be summed up as, though it’s more incredible than that.
He changes me from bad to good. Not from bad to trying to be good. No, I actually am good because He’s fixed things. When I focus on how I’m doing, I tend to do worse. When I think about how good I am, I do better.
Happy Mother’s Day!