Today went well except for a brief period this afternoon when I felt like such a bad mother I stared out the window of my car at the pissy rain, earnestly believing Sophie and Nels would be better off without me. I don’t have a choice, of course. I could never abandon them in any way, never screw up so badly I could leave, but that’s not the choice I’m talking about anyway. I mean I don’t have a choice whether I’m their mother or not; I am forever and ever, Amen. For better or worse, and this time I felt worse.
Luckily such episodes are short-lived; and in part this is my own doing because in some ways I’ve raised the children well. One of the more amazing things about growing a couple kids is that soon they are able to help you with some of life’s thornier problems. Like today when Sophie and Nels sat and listened to me tell them fuck it (I didn’t use that phrase), I wouldn’t take them swimming – it was just too frustrating that they hadn’t helped me pack the swimgear and that Nels had been shouting at me all morning – and Sophie looked straight at me and although I was telling her about the worst thing she could imagine (she loves swimming about a thousand percent), she remained calm. “Is there anything you haven’t done yet that I could do, Mama?” The crazy thing is she wasn’t trying to save the swim date by being “good”. She was trying to solve a problem. I didn’t change my mind about the family swim-date and she took it in stride. We’re going to try again tomorrow.
Later in the day after Nels ran outside of the grocery store, got in the car and kicked over my coffee, she righted the cup and said, “Oh Mama… I’m so sorry this happened,” and put her little arms around me. My children’s hugs are the Best Thing Ever, and I’m kind of wondering if they feel the same way about mine.
A tangent, sort of: I met my online friend Jasie for the first time in person on Saturday, during Ralph’s Port Townsend show weekend. I’ve met many people online and met them later and it always been a little odd – no matter how much I read about their passions, opinions, or activities, the pieces that include their voice, mannerisms, and physicality is often a bit disconcerting. But in this case it wasn’t, as the woman herself has blogged many pictures and videos and I had a more well-rounded formation in mind. It felt like meeting someone for the first time that I’d already met.
The day before we laid eyes on one another she wrote a blog entry entitled “insecure perfectionism”, well-worth a read for those of us who have children (and honestly, those without). And although at first glance it may seem I don’t suffer from perfectionism and a lack of good-humor for my mistakes – I’m attempting both a novel and running a 5K in public this month, for crying out loud – I felt like I related, big time, to what she’d written. After all, what else could one call it, being prone during personal setbacks to despairing that I’m such a bad mother (not “parent”, interestingly) I might as well give up?
It makes me wonder: how bad of a parent do you have to be before you should give up? My guess is: it doesn’t matter.
Never give up.