I have a secret: I am not a perfect mom.
I’ve struggled a little over the past two years with this concept of parenthood, struggled not to be too obvious when I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve struggled, even, over the course of writing for this blog, because I love writing, and I love writing about my kids, but I don’t want people to actually know that I’m usually just winging it.
I lose my patience. I get tired and run down, I shout when I know I shouldn’t. Even when it’s my fault for getting them overtired to the point that they’re crying or whining, my fault that they’re driven to the edge, when Grace’s body turns to jello in my arms, or she’s thrashing about as though possessed by demons, still, when I’m tired my patience is low and I shout just to make it all stop.
Sometimes I check out. Like in the middle of a tantrum, or when I’m leaving Oscar to cry himself to sleep, I just walk away and take myself to a mental safe place far, far away. There could be chaos whirling all around but there I’ll be, in the eye of the storm, peeling carrots as calm as can be, as if there was nothing happening at all.
I love bedtime. I love my kids and I love spending time with them, but I love bedtime. I feel shame in admitting this, but there it is. Bedtime rocks. It is me time, it is couple time, it is my guilty pleasure. I used to be offended by Samuel L. Jackson’s Go the F**k to Sleep but I’ve said these words so many times to myself that it would be hypocritical to not give him props for at least being honest.
There are times when I really mess up. Like, I use feeling words with Grace because I want her to learn to speak through her frustrations rather than lash out physically, but then I’ll get frustrated and physically manhandle her into a Time Out rather than use my words. I’ve used positive reinforcements for particular behaviours and then taken them away when other behaviours come into the mix, effectively making a mess out of everything. There are times when I forget, because of how well she speaks and how much she understands, that Grace is only two, and my expectations of her should be the expectations of a two year old.
I’ve driven with the kids not properly in their car seats. This is a big one and my stomach turns at thinking about it. But there was a time with Oscar where I put his bucket seat in the car and I thought it was in, but a while later while driving around a bend I heard, click!, and I knew that he hadn’t been fully attached all that time. Of course, my sister-in-law was in the car with me. And there was another time with Grace, where I put her in her seat, turned on the TV because she asked for it, went around to put Oscar in the car, and by the time the groceries were loaded and the stroller was folded up and packed in, I had completely forgot that I hadn’t finished strapping her in. We were on the road before I noticed her level of mobility in my rear view mirror. Of course, my mother-in-law was in the car with me that time. Also, I never told my husband about either of these incidents. (Sorry, honey).
Sometimes I think about how sweet it was to care for Grace when she was a baby and I am sad, especially after I hear myself growling GRAAAACE over and over over the course of an afternoon. And when I’m putting Oscar down for a nap, I hold him extra close, and I stroke his hair extra softly, because I know it’s only a matter of time before he’ll be doing things on purpose to get my goad and I’ll be yelling OSCAAAAARRR!!!!! And that’s probably when I’ll have another baby, just to have a daily reminder of the sweet times.
I have used chocolate and candy as bribes on multiple occasions. Not as rewards. Bribes. Plain and simple.
I drink coffee and I drink wine. I know I’m breastfeeding but I do. I’m careful about my timing, and I’m not saying I have a lot, but there are some things in life you just have to keep for yourself and these are mine. I am not a purist, although I know many people who would tell me I should be.
I am currently using pink diapers on Oscar. Grace doesn’t want to wear pull-ups to bed anymore, and I have almost a full pack of pink princesses lying around, and they wear the same size… and there’s no guarantee that I’ll have another girl the next time around… and there’s no sense in wasting them…. right?
I hope he never reads this.
Anyway, there you have it. I am not a perfect mom. I have made a ton of mistakes. I just figure I may as well be open about it because hiding it is too much trouble. When I’m with other moms and comparing ourselves as moms are wont to do, sometimes I feel great because I know I’m not screwing up too badly, and sometimes I feel like crap because I’m not a supermom. I do what I do and the best I can do it. But I’m far, and I mean FAR, from perfect.
And now my daughter is awake so I’m going to go make her some homemade pancakes with blueberry smiley faces on them…. Which would be great and perfectly okay, but, more likely, I’ll shove a bowl of yogurt in front of her and say Eat!
Originally published August 21, 2013