I have an embarrassing confession to make, and it’s one of those risky ones that may lead to some totally unwanted judgment. But I’m a risk-taker, and it’s like a zit that needs to be popped, y’all! Since the awful truth about me was revealed unwittingly to a friend last week, I’ve felt as if I need to go to a support group and just spit it out. I didn’t mean for it to happen, but it slipped out and it was so, um, large, that it was impossible to cover for. As it was happening, it felt like the scene in a movie where someone is running in slow motion while shouting “noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” as their counterpart is about to make the biggest mistake of their life. So, because I have yet to feel the wrath of my readers’ judgment, I will share it here. In a minute. Now, don’t get your pants in a bunch.
When I first became a mother, I said one particular sentence a lot: “I had no idea it would be so hard!”. And I meant it! I really didn’t know! And while I said it, I was usually whining and huffing. I was totally and completely undone by it; the fact that I truly thought I knew, but clearly didn’t. I think some women come equipped for motherhood, like some people come equipped for organized religion. They just flow with it. Whereas I feel constantly surprised by it all. You know those women, right? Maybe you are one of them. Harumph. Well, if you are, kudos to you. I want a little of what you’ve got. What I know about myself now is that I am not one of those women.
Years ago, at a relative’s wedding, as I sat in the pew for the longest fucking Catholic ceremony on the planet, I tried to listen attentively, so as not to pass out from sheer exhaustion from being upright for, like, 2.5 hours straight. Apparently, all Catholic weddings are like this. The priest (who must have been totally pitting out in his 47 robes) raised his hands and said, “Now, let us all rise up, and offer our uterus to the lord!” to which I gasped. Audibly. My sweet stepmother elbowed me in the ribs and shot me a look once I started to giggle, because I had just heard a priest say the word uterus. That was equal to hearing a prostitute saying “it’s FREE!” Okay, bad analogy, but you get the picture. Once I whispered to my stepmother the reason for my laughter and tears of joy, she informed me that the priest had actually said “offer up our eucharist to the lord,” and I felt, like I now feel about motherhood, totally clueless.
I’m a yeller. There, I said it. I yell. I yell at the tiny, adorable children. (The ones living in my house, not other people’s children—I’m not a total psycho.) It’s terrible! I feel like I have Tourette’s! I don’t want to be a yeller, and I’m pretty embarrassed by it, but I can’t stop myself. I’m trying, but it doesn’t help that in most instances, it is the only time that I can get the kids to actually listen to me. So, I yell. I have even done the old chestnut where I yell at the children, “STOP YELLING!” I yell to get their attention, and I yell because I get angry. It is hard, because it’s tantamount to hurting puppies and I know it, but I still yell. I am not a hitter, a belittler, or a power-monger, but the only so-called power that I seem to wield is the yelling.
Oh my god. I am pure evil.
So, on the phone with my friend last week, after answering the exact same question from Luca 15 times, I yelled at him. I don’t remember what I yelled (it’s as if I blacked out!) but I yelled it into the phone, prompting my friend (whose eyes I can only imagine, were open very, very wide) to gently ask, “are you okay?” And I was all like, NO! I am NOT okay! I am sick of answering the same fucking question, like, a million times! My head is going to pop off! I want to scratch my eyeballs out! It JUST NEVER STOOOOOOOOPS!
No, I didn’t really say that, but sweet invisible, possibly pretend Lord! I wanted to! Because that is exactly how I felt. But we can’t say that, can we Moms? We have to be all sweetness and fucking light. (John asked me recently, “Why don’t you surround yourself in white light anymore?” and I wanted to say because the children killed the fucking light, yo.) To the haters, I should be clear that my kids are hilarious, sweet, loving, and for the most part, better than your kids. But it doesn’t matter. To me, being asked the same question, no matter how many times I have already answered it, over and over again, feels to me like someone is punching me in the face, over and over again. It probably feels that way because while the question is being asked over and over again, the other kid is desperately trying to show me something, the dishwasher is going, I am pouring milk, and the phone is ringing, and all the while I’m needing to pee. But still, I feel like most people have to, in the same situations, freak out a little too! Right?
This brings me back to those mothers that always know what to say, or how to deal with situations, regarding the children. I marvel at them, because I feel like I spend so much of my time sort of shrugging my shoulders, palms up, eyebrows raised as if to say, “well, maybe this is the right thing to say/do?” Or the mothers that seem calm, yet attentive all the time! It seems like I missed some kind of meeting at the moms’ club. I have a good friend who is always so calm with her kids, so calm and so understanding. One day, after watching her manage a situation that would have had me yanking out clumps of my hair, I asked, “do you ever yell? Like, ever?” She assured me that yes, she does sometimes yell. Whew! I have a sneaking suspicion that when she does “yell” it sounds more like a loving whisper. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not yelling all day, nor am I angry at the kids a lot—but if there is a moment that calls for frustration or anger, it unleashes the yelling.
God, I am so Italian. But clearly, not Catholic. I still don’t know what a eucharist is.
Motherhood is hard! It’s a balance all the time of trying to choose the right thing to say, the thing to let go of, the behavior to punish, the behavior to reward, being fair and loving, yet firm and steady. Then you go out in the world, develop relationships with people who observe you in moments of stress, or moments that you aren’t feeling confident about as it is, and on top of everything, you risk being judged. But you can’t waiver, because the kids can smell the weakness on you like like a fly can smell poop. Like in the movie Date Night, when they decide to pretend to be those people? And the rest of the movie they have to own it. It’s a little like that. Except for the stripper scene. So I live my life now, just being as I am, trying to grow when I can (in the 6 seconds of free time I get a day, that is) and constantly trying to be a better mother. Not great, not suck-ass, just better. And, fingers-crossed, the kids won’t murder me as I sleep once they are old enough to reach the knives.
Yet just now, while typing this blog, I was needed outside for a few minutes so that John could tinkle. Rowan and I were looking at the peas we are growing together (I’m hoping to save $1.7 million a year) and out of the blue he said, “I’m so glad you’re my mother.” Which sounded like, “I’m so glad you’re my muller”, since he has a hard time making the “th” sound. And I said, “I’m so glad I’m your mother too, Rowan.” Sigh. I guess that means I’m not a terrible mother, just a regular mother. Right?