Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mama Drama

Every Mother's Day I feel like renting a limo to take on the guilt trip. It's inevitable, and I wish I could at least ride it in style.

Leading up to this day of celebration, stories of the women who gave all they have for their children seem to come out of the woodwork. Mothers who happily go without personal time, adult interaction, exercise and even sanity to make time to play with their children. Women who go without any kind of luxury and sometimes even food to make sure their children have the very best. They are women who know their most important job is raising their children. They embrace it and honor it and are fulfilled by it.

I start to wonder if I'm that kind of mom. And then Wally sneaks up to my Diet Coke to steal a sip and I squawk as if he's robbing an egg from my nest. And I know. I'm not. I never was. And (tearing up) despite my best efforts, will never be.
From Mother's Day

Instead, I'm the kind of mother who counts the minutes until bedtime, and skips the story if I'm too tired. I'm the kind of mother who turns all the field trip forms in late and serves cold cereal for dinner. I'm the kind of mother who uses the TV as a babysitter. I'm the kind of mother who (ouch) yells when I'm at wit's end. I'm the kind of mother who does not thrive on self sacrifice, but feels lonely and resentful and completely unfulfilled by motherhood. None of these make me proud.

Normally that's where my story ends. I vow to do better and then spend six months belittling my abilities and wondering why I ever even had children since I'm the world's worst non-abusive mother. And wondering what deficient character trait makes me unable to "know" like other moms.

But this year, I'm crashing my own guilt trip. I'm realizing that the pieces of motherhood I resent are a part of, but not the definition of the job. The part of motherhood I love, the part that energizes me and sustains me and I do well is worth celebrating.

Because I'm also the kind of mother who follows her hair-brained ideas, children in-tow. I'm the kind of mother who takes (drags?) her children to political rallies, unusual churches, family reunions, recitals, museums, roadtrips across the country and anywhere I can to show them the greatness of the world.
From Mother's Day

I'm the kind of mother who camps even though she hates it, who plays in the snow even though it's miserably cold, who jumps off the high dive even though she's terrified, who wakes up at 5am to run even though she's tired and slow, and who plants a garden even though she's suckish at it (their word, not mine) to help them understand grit and determination.
From Mother's Day

I'm the kind of mother who makes wickedly cool costumes for Halloween and book reports, dances to salsa music for breakfast on Cinco de Mayo, and is always good for a prank on April Fool's Day, so they feel the celebration of life.
From Mother's Day

I'm the kind of mother who relishes her child's friendship with the girl at school who speaks no English and "barks like a dog", who sings Happy Birthday with her kids to the homeless man at the restaurant, and who shows up at service projects, even planning a few of her own, to show them humanity, that there's a need for us beyond ourselves.
From Mother's Day

And I'm the kind of mother who would be honored to die saving my child's life, who stood between the angry dog and her 8 year old, who steals kisses every chance she gets, who goes to check in on them "one more time" before going to bed, and who will always make them call home, because I love them to pieces.

But I'm the kind of mother who has passions beyond them. I'm the kind of mother who loves alone time with their father, working with her sister, and retreating with friends. And so should they.
From Seattle

I'm starting to embrace the idea that despite the moments of despair, I am actually getting more out of this arrangement we have than they are, I am the one doing the "growing up"; better yet, that they do not expect nor want me to sacrifice my hopes and dreams and friendships and self in their name.

And that they love me too.

From Mother's Day

What kind of mother are you?


Bored in Vernal said...

Yeah, I'm the kind that calls 5:00 pm the "arsenic hour," who sits on the front porch steps chanting "three more hours 'till bedtime."

And I'm the kind that lies on the bed until 2am talking to teenage girls about every detail of their date.

Way more bad than good, but we do have some awesome memories.

Mel, having spent a week in your home, where you can't hide anything, I can testify that you are a wonderful mom. Your kids and your family love you, and so do I. Thanks for taking me in, I bet you'll pass that one down, too.

Mel said...

Thanks BiV, you give me hope for the teenage mamadrama since you've lived it in droves and come out shining. And my kids thank you for the shoulder rides, still.

Mel said...

From my friend Susan, I have to post this for her since my blog is not letting her, and she's definitely the kind of mother I look up to!!


You have more joie de vivre than anyone I know, and your children wear that like a cloak. People around you look to you for the most creative solutions to problems, for the best birthday party ideas, and for whatever you do that makes your children such truly nice people.

What kind of mother am I? In the spirit of your post, here goes. I am the kind of mom who spends a lot of time in my children's schools so that they see how very important it is. I am the kind of mother who laughs a lot about silly stuff with my children, and who plays practical jokes a lot. I am also a "mean mom" who does not let them do risky things like hang at the mall with a pack of teenagers. I do not rescue them from their poor decisions. I believe they are better people for it. I am the kind of mother who takes my kids outside at 2 am to see a shower of shooting stars. I hope I am the kind of mother than my children will want their children to be around.

Incidentally, I am also the kind of mom that never seems on top of current trends or the latest bands. I am the kind of mom who occasionally sings in front of my children's friends, MUCH to their horror. And I am the kind of mom that hates dealing with homework. I'm far from perfect.


also known as shell said...

ahhhh Mel I love you. and you are also the kind of mother who instills kindness within her children. for example I love that when I play with your kids that they are always willing to help the other out with a better hiding place, or teach them how to hold their cards so others won't see them, or congratulate them when they have done well on their turn. You are a GREAT MOTHER and I look up to you in so many ways!

Likes Chocolate said...

Welcome back to blog world. I have missed your stories. You must be a great mom because your children are the sweetest. In the end that is more important than homemade dinners every night. As for what kind of mom am I, to my shame I yell to often because I don't feel heard. I spend to much time blogging in hopes to perserve the memories of our live. While I am good at making yummy meals and treat my children see the drive thru line of a fast food restaurant at least once a week. I am terriable with family home evening but my children have seen every childrens movie since they were born. I am terriable at sports, but love to travel and hope that through my love to travel my children will have a better understanding of the world. Sometimes I want to give them away, but I love them like a mother lion loves her cubs and will stand by their side as they fight the battles of life.

Stephanie said...

This brought me to tears Mel! I was seriously just thinking the other day what a great mother you are. You always do so many things with them and teach them so much!
It got me thinking about what kind of mother I am. Maybe there will be a post on my blog in the near future...

Cynthia said...

I love this post, Mel (I linked in from Facebook). I'm pretty much the same kind of Mom you are. I really needed to read your post today because I've been doing the 'feeling guilty for needing my own life' thing.

I love being here for the kids. I gave up a lot of what I might have become to do it but I'm still glad. I still have outside pursuits and my own ways to positively impact the larger world.

I think our old coach, Sue, summed it up best when she said "Whatever my students chose to pursue, they are the best at it."

I'm never going to be the Mom who keeps and immaculate house with perfectly attired kids. But man, my kids are having an excellent childhood because of the things I AM. Thanks for the reminder!

Welcome to the Blogosphere- it's a lot of fun!

Mel said...

I'm loving this feedback (and not just the stuff where you are gaga over my kids). I am intrigued at the things that define you as a mother, and think this is what we should celebrate on Mother's Day, the true and wonderful mother within us, not the one we are told to be and have no desire nor apt to live up to. Sure, I spend more time than I care to with laundry and pee (I have boys with bad aim), chauffering and managing schedules. But this is not what makes me their mother.

The experiences and ideas I try to plant in their souls, the knowing and loving of their truth and gifts and even faults, and the soft place I provide for them to land when life drops them head first . . . that's what makes me their mother.

Beth said...

Mel, I've so missed your blog...

OK, I'm the kind of mom whose child was born on Mother's Day, and this year we celebrated that day together again for the first time. I take plenty of guilt trips about my parenting, but not on that day. On Mother's Day, I remember her birth, and how grateful I am.

Other days, I look at her at the beginning of her life and I really envy her. Lately I feel like I got lost somewhere along the way. I was supposed to be somebody.

Instead, this year, I taught her to knit, sew a basic stitch on a sewing machine, let her girl scout troop, read some awesome kids books most nights. Read the crappy Twilight series so I had a clue (ok it wasn't that horrible) what she is so excited about.

My wish is that I could be half as adventurous and willing to say YES! as you are to life. You always inspire me.

However, on mother's day this year my daughter told me confidentially that I'm her hero... well, I only hope that she feels that way on the day she turns 15 too.

Misty said...

This is so funny, because last night when I was over, I was thinking of how great a mom you are. Putting the raspberries in cute containers and listening to music while you put dinner on the table. I know you do a great job because when I see Wally stand up for his girls, I know he has been taught and loved. Maybe you don't do what you see as the Ideal mom would, but that is what makes you so great. You let them know there is more to life and because of that they will dream big. You are always making me feel good about everything, that is why I love you so much, and I know that you do the same with your kids and that is why they love you so much as well.
What kind of mom am I? I lost my identity to kids the second I saw Skyler. But at least I know that and look forward to redefining myself as they grow and leave me.
I am the kind of mom that hates to cook, because I would rather clean.
Who has big ideas but doesn't always follow through.
Who sneaks chocolate or ice cream one kid at a time and tell them not to tell so they feel they are the only one who got a treat.
I am the kind of mom who loves to look them in the eyes and tell them I love them. And who cheers for them and tells them they are my kind of kid when they do something little or big.
I realise the importance of what I am doing and sometimes live up to that. I hope that those are the times my kids remember and that those times define their lives. That is all I can do and I am okay with that.

Melinda and Matt said...

my kids would think they had died and gone to heaven if you were their mom (really they tell me all the time). You always inspire me to be a better mom and do more than I have been doing.

What kind of mom am I? The kind that makes more mistakes than I admit to anyone....but apologizes to my kids and teaches them that everyone has things hey have to work on--and trying is important even if you keep failing.

I'm the kind of mom that stays up all night with sick kids because I'm worried it will get worse if I sleep...the kind that carries them when they are to tired to walk--even if it means one in my arms and one on my shoulders. The kind of mom that expects hard work--teaching them to clean and cook and do things right (they will thank me for it someday) The kind that gives them extra hugs when they've had a bad day at school, and tells them about dumb things that I've done so they don't feel so alone...that hurts inside when they get hurt by other people, and cheers the loudest at their accomplishments.

I love being a mom--I'm not the best by a long shot, but they love me more than I sometimes deserve and I want to live up to what they think I am.

Jan said...

Mel, you know I love you and think you are amazing - but just so everyone else knows too:

I love Mel and think she is amazing.

Miss you, miss your writing, miss our trips!!