I lament a lot about what it means to be a good mother, wail about failing, get it together and do a better job, work as a coach healing intergenerational family stuff and am reminded constantly of the way our pattern impact the lives of our children, changes lives, rock my own life, get tired, fuck it up somewhere, and suffer the wrath of a sarcastic 15 year old, a 10 year old who would like to live inside me still, and an 8 year old who suddenly stopped being easy and cruising along and got some opinions about things (all the things). And don’t even get me started with step-children. Step-mother guilt is just weird. As in, extremely hard to articulate and perhaps another blog altogether.
I’ve been mothering for 23 years and still can’t make my kids ride their bikes home from school up the big hill. Because it’s too big and they complain. And so, even though my time is precious there’s me, after school, trying to wrangle two bikes into the back of car whilst they climb the big tree and don’t come down when I ask, and then screech at each other because they are hangry and then blame me for yelling. As if there is any other option. And Miss 8 wails and said she “hasn’t had a very good day” and I’ve made it worse somehow by telling her to stop putting the Styrofoam packaging from the new freezer all over the veranda and get in the big, warm, bubbly, aromatherapy bath I’ve run her. With her clean pyjamas and fluffy towel right beside it. While I cook dinner (lactose free, gluten free, not too much meat, some meat, lots of vegetables, no mushroom, enough for 6 even though 2 or more might just not be hungry because they ate all the crackers when they were hangry after school). And then there’s no dessert because the freezer broke and everything defrosted – but somehow lack of ice cream and frozen berries means the only possible thing they want after dinner every freezer-less night is a berry smoothie. And when I say that’s not possible somehow, I have broken hearts.
Mostly my nearly 16-year-old is angry that I go away for work. Or play. Or anything really. That I go away at all. When she was little, I was a workaholic. Horribly so. I was not present for her or her big sister for a number of years. 3-6 years. Writing that makes me feel ill. I parented functionally (everyone was fed, clothed and cuddled) but my head was barely above water and I had no awareness at all about the present moment. I was not still; I can’t recall any details of those years and I was constantly stressed. Which is why now, in a life where I am here more than not here, doing school drop off 4 mornings a week, and pick up 2 afternoons and out of my office at 5.30pm on the days I don’t pick up I cannot understand her contempt. I hear myself trying to explain or excuse myself and know it’s like lying. The more detail you provide in the explanation, the more likely it is all to be a lie. And I know that whatever that hurt is for her, it was created years ago, and no amount of explanation changes how that feels. When I am brave I can face her and say I’m sorry she feels the way she does, and I love her and I’m not leaving her I’m going to do magical and magnificent things in the world which make me a better Mum (person/spirit/wife/friend/coach/being).
My ego tricked me years ago, and made me valuable and important to people for all the wrong reasons and didn’t let me see the two little blonde girls who needed me more than someone else needed a neatly made bed or banana muffins for morning tea (although they did always get neatly made beds and lots of muffins too!!). My oldest daughter was quiet and just made herself no trouble, whilst the next one tried everything to get me to notice her. And yet, when you’re lost in yourself neither of these tactics will work that well, although one will always get more of a reaction.
I’d like to say I don’t feel guilty about how I was as a mother, because as I’ve learnt better, I’ve done better, but I know my children now get more of me when I’m with them. Somehow, I suspect my ego plays me to give too much to make it up. That’s motherguilt right there. Part 54.
It’s doing things because you ‘should’ without the grace. It’s martyr-ish and angry. It’s saying OK when it’s not. It’s agreeing to pick someone up when someone else could do it or they could walk just as easily. It’s paying for things they don’t need but have convinced you (and themselves) they do. It’s the lollies at the checkout (I never get these BTW as I don’t take my kids to the shops for the reason that the incessant asking for things kills me. I don’t get the things, but I get so sick of saying no that we just avoid the shops altogether unless they have their own money and can make their own purchasing decisions). It’s being secretary of the P&C when it’s enough to make the muffins (which I’m really good at!) And it’s yelling because the loading the bikes in the car whilst they climbed the tree was just another time that work won over play and she (that ridiculous, guilty woman) made that OK.
I find being a woman, and a mother and a wife simultaneously brilliant and confusing. I don’t want to not be a woman, but I am unsure entirely how to change the role to one where I am not affected by the needs of others in an unhealthy way. Anyway, I have to stop writing. I have to go pick up a 15-year-old who somehow managed to scam me to pick her up even though someone else is ‘on’ this afternoon. Then I have to buy sushi rice as they requested sushi rolls for dinner, and I didn’t realise I didn’t have the rice. And then? I’m going to make sushi like a graceful mofo whilst simultaneously listening to Spotify’s Guilty Pleasures Playlist and ignoring all the aforementioned children (and my step-son who is making chilli noodles at 5pm and will likely not be able to eat sushi as he’ll be full of fake noodles. And I won’t worry about his nutrition). Part 54. The end.