One morning this past week I took both kids into the doctor for their well-child checkups. Both kids at the same time, which I told myself last year I would never do again because last year they acted like rioting monkeys instead of well-behaved children. Somehow along the year I must have forgotten how horrible that visit was, me practically begging Jasper to behave so I could concentrate on the doctor’s questions, me in a full-body hold of Lily screaming bloody murder while the nurse tried to give Lily her shots. There was a point during that visit last year when I wasn’t sure we would all survive. Somehow we did. And all I could think when we walked out of there, while I was sweating to death and trying to calm my heart rate, AND dreaming of a month-long vacation on a beach ALL BY MYSELF was, Whew!!!
As soon as we entered the doctor’s office this week, last year’s nightmare all came flooding back. It was like a switch was flipped and as soon as the nurse took us back my children were replaced with two crazy hoodlums high on some super drug, although luckily there were no shots this time. Double whew! After the doctor’s office madness we raced Lily to school, stopping by the Starbucks drive-through to get some croissants and morning buns, because honestly when my kids act like crazy people in situations like that I feel like a diabetic going through a low sugar moment needing her sugar and carbs to save her life!
Then Jasper and I headed to Target in some freak thunderstorm downpour to pick up some photos I had printed. We made our way through Target, which included picking out a birthday present for Jasper’s friend, Nicholas, which was its own form of torture. I mean really, who in their right mind does that, makes a five-year-old boy pick out a toy for someone other than himself? I know, sometimes I wonder how stupid I can be.
We made it through the check out line, raced back through the downpour to the car and as soon as we got buckled up, drenched and soggy, I realized I forgot to pick up the pictures, which was the only reason we went to Target in the first place. As all the frustration of the morning hit me I yelled, “Fudge!” as loud as could. And I actually did yell, “Fudge”, and not that other F word, which is pretty remarkable for me because I have a potty mouth for sure, and that other F word is definitely in my vocabulary.
I needed those pics so we got out of the car, raced back through the rain and into Target to get them. The whole way through Target Jasper yelled, “Fudge, Oh fudge! Fudge! Fudge! Fudge!” Can I just say, “Whew!” again! Thank goodness fudge was the word I chose to use that morning!!
Sometimes that’s what being a mother feels like to me, an entire series of whews!!!!! Like I’m barely covering all the bases, figuring things out on the fly, trying to keep my cool, losing it a lot, and ruining my children with each mistake I make. I know I am a mom, but there are so many days I don’t actually feel like one, rather, like there’s this secret club into which I’ve yet to be invited or initiated. Like everyone else who’s a mom knows the secret password except me. (If you know it, can you please tell me?)
I feel unanchored a lot, especially without my own mom here. I just want to pepper her with questions and ask her advice, even if I wouldn’t always follow it, just to get a real mom’s take on things. This question drifts through my mind often, how can I possibly be a mom without my own mom here?
And there’s so much pressure from society about the best way to be a mom or a parent. To nurse or not to nurse, stay-at-home mom’s vs. working moms, how much screen time you allow your child, private school vs public vs homeschooling, home-cooked family dinner vs popping that frozen pizza in the oven for the kids while you pour yourself a glass of wine.
I love to cook and family dinners are sometimes fun at our house, but you can bet I keep a stock of frozen pizzas and wine on hand. My mom loved to cook, both my parents did, and we ate family dinner all the time, but we also went out to Chili’s, or Bonnie Brae when my mom was exhausted and wanted someone else to do the cooking and cleaning up. There was even that time when we were little and we got home after a long day, and my mom opened up a bag of Oreos for us and said, “Here’s dinner!” I’m sure there were many times like that when I was growing up.
I struggled with what to call this section of my blog for a while. First I was going to call it Parenting, but I felt like a fraud. Then I was going to call it Kids, but that felt incomplete too. Even Motherhood feels weird, but I settled on it because whether I see myself as a mother or not, I am one. What I have to keep reminding myself is that we are all doing the best we can, aren’t we? And even though she’s not here, I still ask my mom questions and advice all the time. I just have to imagine what she’d say. And I remind myself not only how much she loved her kids, but how often she showed us that love. Every day.
Maybe being a mom is a lot of, what-the-hell-am-I-doing, plus a dash of instinct, and one big chunk of a-whole-lotta-love, and that’s just the way it is, no secret, perfect club. I’m just going to hold onto that thought and, of course, keep fudge as a more regular part of my vocabulary. More importantly I’m going to send out huge hugs and love to all the AMAZING, FANTASTIC, SUPER STRONG, BEAUTIFUL moms I know. You know who you are, all of you. Happy Mothers’ Day!!