I Am No Mother Duck

A few days ago, while driving down the road with my youngest two in the back of the 1987 Chevy Astro, I noticed a car slowing in front of me. Two women standing at a bus stop were pointing and laughing and so, I slowed, too. The car in front of me sped up and so I could clearly see the spectacle slowing traffic. A mother duck and her four ducklings waddled from the middle of the busy residential street to the edge, as I waited with my foot pressed to the brake while frantically digging in my purse for my camera.

I pulled out the camera just as the little procession reached safety.

The image of that mama duck and her babies has remained in my mind, though. Her ducklings followed, hovered close to her feathered sides, didn’t run off, didn’t fight with their brothers, didn’t refuse to do grammar because it is so boring.

I’m nothing like that duck mom. Today, as a matter of fact, I would have thrown my letter of resignation at my boss, only, uh, I don’t have a boss and I can’t resign. Instead, I slammed the door and strode outside, first to the driveway where I stood by the lilacs, and then up the street a few houses where I noticed a gentle spring breeze and wondered if the neighbors were looking at the wild-haired lady in her moccasin slippers wandering the neighborhood. All the windows really did seem like eyeballs behind sunglasses, staring at me.

I didn’t go far, of course, because I was keenly aware of the littler ones in my house and also cognizant of the fact that my teenagers would keep an eye on the little kids even though those very same teenagers, well, one of those teenagers, had caused me to flee into the street, question my very status of a competent mother and resolve to turn in my Homeschooling Mother Card once and for all.

I CAN’T DO THIS!
I shrieked to myself, as loudly as one can shriek inside one’s head on the street in the middle of the morning while worrying about neighbors calling the police to report a raving lunatic strolling the streets.

My son, The Reluctant Student, has some issues, some undiagnosed issues having to do with paying attention and retaining information and organization. I don’t need a label to know that he struggles with what comes naturally and easily to me and his twin brother. He sometimes stays focused and tries, but this week he’s been derailed. The picture of him as a railroad car literally off the rails, unable to move forward or backward, blocking the rest of the train from moving fills me with pity and understanding, but also frustration because we need to keep moving. Moving forward, heading toward the finish line, hurry, hurry, hurry!

When I hurry him, he resists.

I used to think that raising children was all about nurturing them properly and creating the right environment. I see now how much genetic predisposition influences and even controls behavior. I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle, like a salmon swimming upstream who finally encounters an impassable dam.

So, between a difficult morning of grammar (adverbial phrases, anyone?) and my daughter who spends every waking moment either changing her clothes or interrupting me or demanding Cheetos, I really did decide I am not cut out for this mothering gig. Really. I quit. DO YOU HEAR ME? I’M NOT COMING IN TOMORROW! I QUIT!

Blink. Blink-blink. Okay, fine. In two weeks, I’m outta here, for sure. I’m going to get a job cleaning chimneys or muck-raking cow stalls or deep-sea fishing on an Alaskan fishing boat . . . something easy like that.

If I were a mother duck and my kids were those ducklings, today they totally would have been squished by a car. Tomorrow, maybe they will be all fluffy and yellow and quiet and cute. One can hope.

(My son just sent me this instant-message: “GOING TO TRUN OFF NOW MOM GOOD NIGHT I HEART U =) AND ALSO SORRY FOR TODAY.” Okay. Fine. Whatever. I’m in for one more day.)

12 Responses to “I Am No Mother Duck”

  1. Rae May 3, 2006 at 1:29 am #

    Thanks, Mel, this made me feel better. I almost quit today too. I almost got into a comparing battle with my husband over who’s job is harder. Not worth it. I hope you have a better day tomorrow. :)

  2. Angi May 3, 2006 at 7:35 am #

    This time of year, seems like there are more of the “I quit” days than the “I love this job” days. Have a great day today.

  3. MissKris May 3, 2006 at 8:30 am #

    LOL! Oh, honey…been there, done that sooooooo many times. But it’s the instante messages or, in my case before computers were in just about every home, a scribbled note left on the dining room table from a repentant child that does make you feel like, “OK…I can do it one….more…day.” My two will be 28 and 30 this year — which I’m still having a hard time believing — and even NOW they can still drive me over the edge some days, ha! But for the most part, if we’re really lucky, they grow in to becoming some of our very dearest, closest, and best friends.

  4. Sue May 3, 2006 at 9:31 am #

    Sometimes when I read back from my journals of years and years ago (my kids are 35 & 37) I am transported back to that time. This blog will take you back in words and pictures to these times with your children.
    It doesn’t seem like it will ever happen, but they DO grow up (so fast!)

  5. jennie May 3, 2006 at 10:05 am #

    I love that he said I HEART U.
    Priceless.
    (It doesn’t make your job any easier, though. You have my utmost respect.)

  6. Melanie May 3, 2006 at 12:19 pm #

    Lordy. I don’t know if it’s the age or if she does have some undiagnosed attention issues, but my older girl can get like that. Which is why I duct tape her to the wall of her closet.
    No, not really. But I WANT to.
    Man. Hope tomorrow is easier!

  7. Islandsparrow May 3, 2006 at 11:19 pm #

    I taught my kids piano lessons…and gave up. Hats off to you – it’s a tough job.

  8. Cyn May 4, 2006 at 9:39 am #

    Get-cher M.A.P.S. t-shirt out and let’s go party! No pre-schoolers? I think it matters not. Moms rule. Pass it on.

  9. Shalee May 10, 2006 at 11:55 am #

    That was me and my daughter last Monday. She’s almost 10 (if she lives that long) going on 17… Such a pleasure to know that I have so many more lovely, encouraging days ahead.

    I can’t quit. Where else would I go for my endless supply of cookie dough?

  10. lammyann May 10, 2006 at 1:24 pm #

    Oh.my.holy.cheese.
    Are you listening to my thoughts?? Did you visit my house this week?? Yikes. It’s just like looking in a mirror…sans moccasins. :)
    My son is also an alternative learner (read completely-different-learner-than-my-other-kids) and the more I push, the further he slows down).
    Then I think, thank heavens we don’t have to deal with the public school system with all this stuff. He surely would be label
    Maybe we could meet on the corner…sip lemonade and chat about life on the beach. :)

  11. lammyann May 10, 2006 at 1:26 pm #

    Oops that’s “Labeled” not just label. lol
    and… found your blog through daringyoungmom.
    :)great reading.

  12. cindy March 16, 2011 at 3:59 am #

    OH, my! Remembering those days so vividly and so enjoying the memories of 11 yrs. of homeschooling 3 so like your children! Days spent in the bedroom crying, calling my husband at work, walking and asking God “what are you doing?” Now I can say I am so thankful that I persevered and can help my children as they struggle with their own like ducklings. It is hard but so worth the effort. Hang in there! In fact, I have a note on my refrigerator written by my daughter apologizing for something she had done and thanking us!

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image

Parenting Blogs - Blog Top Sites