Today, for the second time in a handful of days, I had a ladyfriend / acquaintance call me “Supermom”. The time before last it didn’t feel very good, because it was during a precise bit of time I knew I was doing pretty badly in general, as far as how I was treating the rest of the world and most especially my family (I quickly and in retaliatory fashion told this woman she had the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen, although actually I was being honest about that), and the second time – tonight – well, I was able to accept the compliment. Even though, of course, I am merely a Normal Person who does well on some days and really ugly on others, and there’s nothing Super about me, or if I’m Super than most other people are, too. And in general I kind of dislike the “Super-” parent stuff – because so many parents in my peer group today are just poised to feel rather bad about how they’re doing, or that they could do better if they just upped their effort or compassion or energy, and I don’t want any part of that by being pedestaled as awesome in some way. I do know that when people say this to me – and believe it or not I’ve heard it quite a bit, despite the fact that here online and IRL I am pretty honest about being a whole person with the craziness and meanness and darkness and all associated with personhood – I think they just mean they think I’m Neat in some way. So, thanks for that.
But I like being super-clear about my limitations, because in case anyone forgets this blog is almost entirely about keeping a record for myself (please don’t question me too much about this because I still think it’s a Super Good Plan even though I’m occasionally told it’s not). For instance, I was thinking about now and then devoting an entry to the subtle nuances in the various ways I Lose My Shit. Like, one might think I yell or strangle the kids or threaten them or talk mean, which are kind of boring ways to be a Bad Parent and can be found lots of places in lots of details, including movies dramatizing Bad Parents and how they affect their growing children but then the children overcome it in some heroic way. Today I was thinking about one of my more special ways of Losing My Shit, which is when I’m so tired-out from the kids and from my inability to deal with them that I sort of shut down, and I recognize that they need my help or guidance or some food or something but all I can do is feel numb and despairing inside and barely respond and burrow further into reading my too-serious Internetz stuff and wishing for death or, alternatively, Ralph’s arrival for work (non-parents: example of this sort of thing starting at 06:21 in the video clip). What’s weird is when Ralph is gone for an extended time – teaching his class in the evening or staying away for some other reason – I can often come up with a way to rest or recuperate and pull myself together again. It’s when I believe I can’t cope, and I have reason to believe I may be bailed out, that I cope very badly indeed.
Concomitant to the many ways I’m a rather crappy parent, there are also so many good things about me in this regard and not a day passes that I’m not that person, too. Like I’ve surprised my own self with how I am so very, very physically affectionate to the kids, and they get more love and hugging and kissing than I ever did as a child (also, more ass-pinching, seriously, they have leathery hide down there from repeated fondlings). And sometimes out of nowhere after I’ve been baking bread and cleaning the toilet and folding the laundry I will pull the kids down on the couch full of blankets and kiss and snuggle them because they smell and feel crazy-good! But I do let them go when they want me to. Because I know they’ll be back.
I am not a Supermom by any stretch of the word. And even in my bad moments, I am still just a regular human. And if I can be a mom and do an okay job, really anyone can, because no one expected me to succeed much in this way, including myself.
I wrote Nels a Valentine’s Day poem in his card this year:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I want to put your toes in my mouth.
* Oh my gosh! Do you have the fear of roasting a chicken? Because I fucking do. Thank God my family saved me via an intervention for my intimidated ass.