Who I Am

(Do you have the song in your head about being Rosemarry’s granddaughter… a spitting image of my father…? Me too.)

I’m actually Kathryn’s granddaughter, and I only have my father’s hair… thank heavens. But that’s not what this is about.

Today was a bad morning. The DH and Jeffrey went to church without Eric, Abby and I, and that was most certainly a good thing. The willpower and patience to deal with Beanie in church was something I simply did not possess; staying home, where Abs can nap, and Beanie can help me work on a photo album, was the better road to harmony.

I really blew up at my boys this morning- they were not listening, which is nothing new, but when they got in my china cabinet and knocked over a bunch of our wedding china, (used all of three times) I pretty much lost it. Hindsight being 20/20 and all, it was an accident, and I know I really got more angry at myself than I was at them, but like most melt downs, it got all over everyone.

Jeffrey and DH managed to get out the door and off to church, and I sat stewing in the chair, holding Beanie in my lap, and comtemplating the morning. Why was I really so mad? What was really happening, here? And it dawned on, quite suddenly, that I was really angry at myself for not being the perfect mother. How dumb is that? But it’s true.  And while I would be the first in line to give my friends pep-talks about how no such woman existed, I wasn’t allowing myself the same mercy.

My kids are tough. They are strong-willed, hard-headed, curious, very busy and often into oodles of mischief. If I turn my back for a minute, things are liable to break, weather that be china or heads. Because of this, I have developed coping mechanisms- I try not to care too much about the little things, I try and give them latitude to explore and make being busy boys an OK thing to be… and intellectually, I believe those are good policies for my family. But sub-consciously and emotionally, I haven’t allowed how I mother to reallybe OK with me. It’s kind of shocking and sad.

This morning, contemplating these things, I realized I really don’t have to live up to anyone else’s model of motherhood. Only mine- but I damn well better be OK with mine, or I’m in trouble. I don’t have to be perfect, and here is the kicker, if I am OK with myself, I won’t feel the need to be defensive about who I am. I only have to be good enough- not perfect, not up to anyone else’s idea of what ‘ good mother’ means. I simply have to live up to MY OWN potential, and that will be good enough.

I am a mother. But unlike any idealized model, I’m other things, too, besides “mother”- I’m an artist, with a dire need to create, and sometimes I neglect taking my children to the park, and sometimes I let them watch too many DVD’s because I am busy making stuff. I am a wife, and sometimes their dad has to come first. I am  a woman, a good cook,  and a slave to whimsy…. and about a million other things.

I am a grapefruit in the fruit-bowl of life, and I will be big, and tart and messy, and some people love me, and others won’t. I’ve got to stop trying to stuff myself in the socially-acceptable “apple” suit. I’ll never be the “apple”. And hopefully my kids will understand that, and I will be good enough.

9 thoughts on “Who I Am

  1. A) – Not that it matters I guess, but I think you are a most marvelous mamma. B) – Any mamma who never lets her kids see her upset is probably not doing them any favors. C) – I’m probably grieving for your lost china almost as much as you are. Breaks my heart! D) – Your kids are awfully resilient and I promise they still know you love them. E) – You mean it’s okay to be other things besides a mamma WHILE being a mamma? Wow. Okay that’s one of those things I know in my head but REALLY struggle with when it comes right down to it. Anytime I’m doing something I want to do instead of what Sir Oliver wants me to be doing I feel kind of like a little kid whose sneaking cookies behind their mamma’s back. How ironic is that?

  2. Em says:
    “Anytime I’m doing something I want to do instead of what Sir Oliver wants me to be doing I feel kind of like a little kid whose sneaking cookies behind their mamma’s back. How ironic is that?”

    That’s exactly what I meant! I have been feeling hidden guilt for just being me- and there is no way that’s healthy! Especially as I contemplate my daughter- she needs to see a mama who is a productive, creative, happy woman, not just a human napkin. But I have to be OK with that first, and not feel guilt, or else it’s just a sham, and the hidden feelings will come out as anger, and other messy stuff.

  3. I am one of the ones that love you no matter what, don’t ever forget that. We may not always see eye to eye, but we are always are there for each other and that will never change.

    Most apples are boring, who wants to be an apple anyway? Besides you have had an apple in your life, and there will never be another one like her!

    Love and kisses to the kids, and the DH, lets talk soon.

  4. I happen to love grapefruit, and I am not an apple fan!

    That besides the point, you are right on so many counts. I often beat myself because I am not “perfect”. Usually I am more mad at myself than anyone else but I don’t get over it very well.

    Children do need to know bounderies as to what to touch and what not to touch. It can be tough to teach them that sometimes. There is truth to it just “things”, and the children and their confidence in themselves is so important. Continue to emphasize the importance of respect of people and their belongings, while letting your children know that they are more important than anyone one “thing”.

    I think you did well to cuddle your little one, and stay home to think. I hate going to church when I have those kinds of mornings. I have a dh that does not like me to stay home, so usually I sit there and cry, and try not to talk to anyone to let them know I am not full of the spirit at that point.

    Hang in there, you are not the only one to feel as you have felt.

  5. I was thinking about this exact thing yesterday. Weird.

    In the book “Raising the Optimistic Child”, the author talks about actions, beliefs, and consequential actions. He says that beliefs will always lead to consequential actions, and when our actions are way, way out of proportion to appropriate, we have to evaluate the belief that brought us there. When I really examine why I blow up at my kid, especially when he does something pretty harmless, like knock over all the DVDs with a clang, I realize it’s because I am mentally beating myself up over his actions, blaming my own fault as a mother. Since I feel so intensely about being a mother, and the belief that I might be failing every day, I get furious. Even worse, sometimes I feel like I don’t even want to deal with anything that has to do with mothering, and that makes me feel even more evil, which enhances my explosive reaction. Lovely cycle, huh?

    The author admonishes the reader to examine beliefs, and truly evaluate how accurately they reflect reality, and also work on changing them so they do accurately reflect reality. Do I really hate being a mother? Of course not–I just need a break sometimes, and it’s ok to feel like that. Am I failing every day? Surely, there are days that are better than others, but they can’t be ALL bad. Are you, Tracy M, a bad mother? Of course not. Maybe there are things that you could do better, but doesn’t that describe every mother? Again, the author says we should be accurate about what we expect from ourselves, and set realistic goals about our behavior. Are you going to be a perfect mother all at once, or are you going to focus on one thing at a time?

    When we are accurate about reality, we find things more manageable, more in control of things, and thus, more optimistic about our situation. And of course, optimism is the key to success. Especially in the home.

    Of course, I needed to read a book to figure all of this out. I’m impressed you did it all on your own. You’re one smart cookie! And your kids are lucky to have you.

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