Friday, August 17, 2007

Me only better

"Every once in a while I'll have one of those days when I've fed the fish, cleaned 10 poops from the patio, taken the cat to the vet, sewn my son's stupid karate stars on until my fingers bleed and made sure that he has everything, and he wakes up and goes, 'Oh, what's for breakfast?' He doesn't know, and why should he? Right?

But there's absolutely no sort of acknowledgment or reward for this -- except for the intangible of my kids growing up to be wonderful people. I do find myself in the garage listening to the NPR because I want to have a stimulating side to my life...The only thing about having kids that I miss is being alone."

This is a quote from Jodie Foster that I read recently. I am not sure why this caught me off guard, but this struck me as so real and honest and coming from someone who could afford a flock of nannies it was reassuringly real. When you see celebrities like Britney Spears who drag their kids all over at all hours you wonder what kind of childhood are they having, what is their normal? I feel sorry for these children who know no better. What is worse is that we watch these children in the media with such gruesome fascination waiting and watching for the fall.

I wonder sometimes if what I am doing is enough. Am I patient enough? Doubtful. Am I compassionate enough? Sometimes, but usually I am quick to want to move on. Am I understanding enough? Usually, then again there are days I am utterly not. Does that make me a bad parent? I like to think, quite smugly, that by comparison to some I am doing a fabulous job. Yeah me! Then there are the days that I am sure I am the worst parent ever. I am selfish and cold and just want to be left alone.

I know I am a good parent on the whole. My girls are testaments to that. So why then are there days that I feel so hopeless and tired and fed-up? Everyone says it is normal, but I feel so guilty about it. Just knowing that there are other people, lots of people who feel the same way makes me feel less crumby.

We have had a few play dates at our house lately. To be honest I am one of those parents who never call you even after exchanging phone numbers and I am rarely the one to initiate it at all. My life is so full already, I just can't imagine adding more into the pot some days. We have got several calls this summer and you can only dodge for so long. This week we had one of Papoosie Girl's classmates over for a play date, a rather long affair as it was a complicated undertaking of schedules and she stayed from 11am-5pm. What I noticed immediately is I am left alone a lot during these days, it was so quiet from my point of view. Yes, I had to feed them and the sort, but I was left alone for long stretches. My laundry got folded in the daylight hours, dishes were washed and I was able to read blogs.

Having another child (who is not my own) in the house made me a better version of myself. More patient, more accommodating and I think more fun. I listened more and was generally a more relaxed me. Do I need surveillance to be a better Mom? I certainly didn't feel under surveillance, but at the same time acutely aware that I don't want this little girl reporting back that I holler all the time either. Why am I not this version all the time for my own kids I kept wondering.

The play date Mom is who I want to try harder to be, this Mom is kind and listens and is engaged just a bit more. Oh, I am entitled to my days of hiding in the bathroom too. I just want to try a bit harder you know?


NotSoSage said...

This post, like Jodie's quote, was so real and honest.

Thank you.

And, yes, I do know.

bubandpie said...

"Enough" is such a dangerously abstract term - no matter how good you are, you couldn't possibly feel that it's enough.

I prefer the idea at the end of this post - just trying to be a little bit better. Maybe that means 30 minutes a week of something (volunteering, interacting with the children!) more than you're doing now.

Omaha Mama said...

I always tell myself that if I try harder tomorrow than I did today, then at least I'm trying. And I also tell myself that I'm always doing better than Britney!

Oh, The Joys said...

I am not big on the playdate either -- because I hate cleaning up after them.

I love Jodie Foster. She's on my "If you had to do a chick" list.

Christine said...

i want to be the Play date Mom too! i know what you mean, completely.

and sage is right--this was so honest. it really struck home with me.

glad we're both back!

Beck said...

I am a playdate mom, although not because I'm all that admirable - my kids whine MUCH LESS when there are other children around.
My goal for this fall is to join the parent council at the kids' school.

Jen M. said...

Okay, I was reading this and thinking, My God! I am having serious deja vu here. Dud. I read that very same article last night (in More). Too funny.

Alpha DogMa said...

OTJ, I hate cleaning up BEFORE playdates. I like to put on airs for the general public.

Mimi said...

Perfect, Jen, just perfect. I was mulling this very idea over in my horrendously long car ride home with Munchkin along Cottage Highway Hell last night. Didn't there used to be parents who aimed for clothed, fed, cleaned, and hugged and counted themselves successful? Why do I have to be so anxious about everything? Then again, I do know that there are situations that have me more patient, more fun, than usual, and then I think -- shouldn't I be like this more?


Great post. Thanks for writing this. And yes, Omaha Mama, at least we're all doing better than Brit.

Haley-O said...

I'm so sure the playdate-mom wishes she could be more like you. Because we're never good enough, are we. I think this post alone is proof that you're an awesome mom! :)

Alpha DogMa said...

Where are you? I'm getting worried.

Mad Hatter said...

What a great post.

It's funny how many people tell us mom's that these feelings of frustration and isolation are normal. Just because they are normal shouldn't mean they should exist. I sometimes wonder what would need to change in our culture such that we could cut down on all the isolating moments wherein we feel inadequate?

Mad Hatter said...

Hey, AD's right. I've been away so long that I didn't even notice the date on this post. Are you ok?