I sometimes hear mothers say with great confidence, “I am a great mother!” This is often in tandem with a complaint about a mother-in-law’s meddling ways and criticisms, but still. There are women–mothers–who absolutely know that they are doing a fabulous job.
I am not one of them.
I worry. A lot. About whether my kids will be the ones who inhale glue or walk on railroad tracks or become fixated on pornography. I waste time wondering if my boys will grow up and marry cold-hearted women who are bossy and sarcastic and then blame me. I am terrified that my kids really won’t remember anything except the times I scream, “This is driving me crazy!”
Maybe that’s why I take so many pictures. We always look really happy. The kids seem to be having a great childhood. Yet, I have no confidence that I am a wonderful mother.
See, a wonderful mother plays Monopoly with her kids whenever they ask. She makes a hot, homemade breakfast and packs a delicious, nutritious lunch that her children eagerly eat. She doesn’t wear June Cleaver pearls, but she does have on matching clothes and a cute haircut. And make-up. She never yells and her laundry is always caught up. Oh, and she doesn’t fly into a frenzy when yet another glass bowl bites the dust right next to the baby’s feet. She needs no time to read, to think, to shop, to write, to talk with grown-ups. She is completely, slavishly devoted to her children, even the older, smelly ones.
I fret that the boys are going to freak out some day about the fact that they are adopted. I worry that they have fantasized a Perfect Mother in their heads–she probably resembles the Perfect Mother I have in my head. I torture myself with the reality that the twins cannot remember the times they slept on our floor in the middle of the night and the times we took them to playgrounds and the times they ran through the sprinkler and rolled in mud and shrieked with laughter. They’re approaching the “I’m bored, this is not fair, no one ever listens to me” stage of pre-adolescence. They can’t remember the first four years of their lives when they were the center of our universe.
Most recently, I have worried that the addition of the younger children has robbed the older children of everything–of our time, of our money, of our attention. YoungestBoy was born just as the twins went to kindergarten. I couldn’t be the Room Mother. I couldn’t go to their baseball games. I couldn’t practice with them so their baseball games weren’t so humiliating. I answered, “No, the baby is sleeping,” too many times to count. I shushed them constantly.
They have to share a room. They have to share their toys. They have to be nice to YoungestBoy, even when he’s being a pain in the neck.
And then, just when things were getting manageable, we had Babygirl. YoungestBoy was four and a half.
I do not recommend this spacing. At all.
I wish for each of my kids that they could be Only Children. I wish they had their own room, their own space, their own solitude. (Or maybe that’s just what I wish I had!)
I can only be cut into so many tiny little pieces. I feel like the kids get their piece and whine, “No fair! He got a bigger piece!” I am never enough.
My hope is that what my kids lose–attention, time, money, things–are outweighed by what they gain–companionship, lessons in getting along with people, lifelong friendships with their siblings, experience, compassion, generous spirits.
My ultimate fear? They grow up, never find meaningful work, never find lifelong love and blame me.
(Yes, this is another premenstrual syndrome entry. My neurosis comes in regular cycles. How convenient.)