I really don’t know how to say the words tonight. I sense within me, utter failure. It feels that I just cannot ever seem to get it right.
But then again…
We are driving home from an appointment. Husband is away for the night, so I have three in tow, with one at home wondering where we are. As we drive, I field criticism from The Children, for various things that have randomly gone wrong but are quite obviously my fault:
The fact that the appointment ran overtime and now we can no longer join Husband in Summerside for supper and shopping. Parenting fail (because I control the dentist’s schedule and I quite obviously planned it this way).
The fact that I am stopping to get ice cream for everyone’s dessert tonight instead of driving everyone straight home. Parenting fail (because I will have now delayed everyone at least ten minutes from partaking of their favorite activity- sitting on the couch scrolling through ipods/playing X-box).
The fact that I will be making a supper complete with meat, starch and veggies as a source of nourishment. Parenting fail (because if I was a good mom, I’d be serving up Chips ‘N Dip, Pepsi and Hot Dogs, with a side of Skittles every night).
The fact that I have suggested no popcorn should be popped twenty minutes before supper, as I hastily pull together said meal. Parenting fail (because junk food should really come with an IV pole for more discreet fueling up. In the perfect world, it would).
I know, I know. Just let it all go, right?
But I still feel it: parenting failure. Where did I go wrong?
So later, when the words come flying out of me in the early evening hours- words connected to something that irritates me, a thing so incredibly minor and inconsequential, but which bears the weight of a thousand bricks as the frustration comes hurtling out of my mouth. I feel the shame. I cannot re-stack those bricks no matter how hard I try. I said them and now I live with them.
I feel the absolute shame of them. And I am sorry.
It really doesn’t matter how many things our children do or say to us, we can react strongly once to them and we feel we have failed them as parents. Where does this guilt come from? Why can we not have our say and get on with it? Why do the feelings have to linger?
I think it is because we know the expectations of us. What is required. Even tonight, I read about a mother elephant who pulls her baby from a well. The caption reads that a mother’s love is the strongest love known on earth. She works for eleven hours to get her beloved free. On days like this, I am looking at that crazy elephant and hiss-whispering to her, “Leave it in there and make like a bandit… run, Forrest- RUN.” And yet, I know that in spite of everything:
In spite of the frustration
The screams and hollers and noise
In spite of The Fighting
The Mean-Spiritedness and Picking
In spite of the fact that I am Sometimes Led to Believe that I Am not Doing This Parenting Thing RIGHT (mainly by the significant four experts that have actually never done this job themselves but have lots to say about the subject)
In spite of the fact that my children drive me crazy (and I them):
They are my children. And I love them. I always will. And that is the one thing I am doing right, even in the midst of all the ‘wrong’. This I know: I will wake up again tomorrow and enter into the same minefields and walk the line anyway, all for love.
I do not wish to excuse bad behavior. Mine or any one elses’. I did apologize for my outburst, and that is the only one over which I have any control. As for the others, we are all a work in progress. Especially Mama.
Thank goodness tomorrow’s a new, fresh beginning.
Great post! How well I remember the guilt associated with raising our brood of five. Like you, it seemed that everyone else could vent and move on. When I “lost it”, the remorse hung around for hours. Well, now they are all adults, raising their own little ones and I am the beloved grandmom who wears a perpetual smile. Why wouldn’t I? I can return to my empty nest anytime I want.