I always dreamed I’d be that patient, calm mother. That is the type of mother I wanted to be, hoped I’d be, dreamed to be. But it was not to be. Patient and calm have never been two words I’d use to describe myself. Why I thought those qualities would magically appear with the birth of my children, I have no clue. But I did so want to be *that* mom. You know the mom I’m talking about….the one who immediately knows right off the bat all the perfect answers to the gazillion random questions kids asks, and the one who never gets flustered when all gazillion questions are asked within a five-minute period. I wanted to be that mom who never batted an eye when her boys started punching each other in the middle of a restaurant (but then that mom’s boys probably would never punch each other anywhere, much less in public). I wanted to be that mom who would never call the pediatrician in a panic over what she thought was a rash which actually turned out to be ink from a pink marker. I wanted to be the mom who never had to call poison control because her child sprayed bug spray in your other child’s face and never decided to eat six Triaminic cough strips. And I never wanted to be the mom who stood there in the family room on a Monday night while 8 EMT’s checked out her 9-year-old after he thought it would be a great idea to put a picture hanger in his mouth (which he then accidentally swallowed). But I’m not *that* mom, although I still strive to be.
I often say that God is surely up in Heaven laughing at me. I mean really…my life as a mother seems like one practical joke after another. I was such a perfectionist growing up….my room was always completely clean, everything always in its place. I got straight A’s from 5th grade on. My outfits matched from head to toe (granted I was a child of the 80’s, so matching earrings to belts to shoes to purses in coordination with your clothing was necessity). I’m pretty sure I remember even alphabetizing my books in my locker in high school. I guess in my mind then, if everything was in “order”, then life stayed neat and ordered. Funny how life doesn’t stay “neat” and “ordered”. In becoming a mother alone we faced fertility issues, an early miscarriage, and then pregnancy interrupted combined with a 93 day NICU stay. I was forced to learn early on that mothering is anything but neat and ordered. But oh how I longed for it to be.
I remember not long after Ryley came home, calling my mother in tears. I, who was so used to schedules and organization, was falling apart at the hands of a four-month old. I wanted to enjoy my child, but I needed to get things done and he was having none of it. Add to that fact, we’d just found out we were (unexpectedly) pregnant with number two. I was reluctantly learning that my life was no longer my own, that with young children all the planning in the world wouldn’t protect me from the messiness of babies, and the fact that they have their own “schedule”. As toddlers, Ryley and Grace seemed intent on ridding me of my need for order, cleanliness, and perfection. They happily created one disaster after another, laughing that hysterical belly laughter all along the way. There were many days I just stared at them in wonder of “what the he** am I doing?”.
I thought with Ethan I would get the chance to be that calm, patient mother. Yeah, still not so much. He was an amazing baby…so easy. Then he turned 3 and it all broke loose. I lose patience with him, I lose patience with myself. He thrives on pushing me to the brink. I think he enjoys seeing that vein pop out on my forehead and forcing me to lose my voice from responding to his whining and temper tantrums. And just when I think I’m completely done, he will come up to me with his huge blue eyes and precious face and ask me if I still love him, throwing his arms around me or crawling into my lap as he asks that little question.
I wonder if I had the chance to have another, would I be that mother that I’d so wanted to be? Somehow I don’t think so. Kids are not neat and ordered. Our life is chaos right now, and I love (almost) every minute of it. Yes, I yell more than I’d like, and I’m not as patient with my three as I really wish I were. I”m still learning to let go the need for perfection in myself and my surroundings, and to just hang on for the ride. Hopefully I don’t damage them or give them too much ammunition for complaints later in life. I’m not a perfect mom. But I’m their mom. And I’m proud to be a mom – a messy, impatient, imperfect mom.