It never really ends, trying to be a good Mama, or the perfect Mama, or whatever it is we try to be. So although this morning I put today’s obligatory novel-writing in first thing, then went for my run, then did my chores and paid some attention to the kids and secured a swim date and supplied a dinner list and arranged a lunch meeting and drove errands with the family…
Still, at 11:15 my daughter has put herself to bed and I realize I didn’t give her legs a massage, like I said I would (she is prone to growing pains). Instead I sat with housemate Jasmine and spent thirty minutes talking (and smoking half a clove cigarette, a vice I hadn’t engaged in for over a month) because Jasmine was excited about a Christmas present she’d acquired – and I missed my opportunity. And I came inside and found Sophie out on the couch, wrapped in blankets and sweetly sleeping, and I whispered to her and rubbed her warm thighs and I know I’ll apologize to her first thing tomorrow morning and she’ll forgive me.
But still, I feel rotten. Not that I didn’t do what she wanted but that I didn’t do what she asked me and I said I’d do. Because sometimes it seems that being a parent means finding out just how imperfect one really is. Daily. Repeatedly.
I swear before I had a family I could self-obfuscate some of that shit.
I think the best minutes in my gee-I-accomplished-a-lot day today were the few moments I did have alone with my daughter, before she went in for an early bedtime. She’d received a copy of Stuart Little on her roadtrip and we were talking about the book; I hadn’t read it in at least twenty years but there were some parts very memorable. (* Some Stuart Little spoilers ensue *) And I said, “But Stuart didn’t find his friend, the little bird he was looking for.” I’m lost in throught, remembering the book and how it had made me feel slightly isolated and scared, thinking of venturing off away from family on a lonesome quest.
“Yes he did,” she responded. “Or he was going to. The last line says, ‘he felt he was headed in the right direction’.”
And I thought, is my daughter’s optimistic interpretation of the book’s ending due to the fact she is younger and hadn’t experienced the full pain of parting so many of us older had? Or was that just part of her character – that she’d read the ending of the book as hopeful and open? Knowing my girl I lean to the latter.
I thought for a moment, then said, “Well, it’s too bad that later she got hit by a truck, and died.”
There was a beat of silence, then Sophie and I both laughed at my sick little joke, she scrunching up her perfectly freckled nose and her eyes crinkling and every tooth coming out of her grin as she put her hands to her mouth.
You know, at least in my world, nothing is really sacred. Because I’m an ass.