I am a mother. Three times over. And the weedlings have all turned out great in spite of my shortcomings as a parent. In spite of my mistakes. In spite of my own childishness. Somehow, the weedlings came out wonderful. There are other people who contributed, not the least of which were their fathers who loved them dearly and did their best at this Kobayashi Maru thing called parenting. But it’s Mother’s Day, so i’m going to lay my experience of motherhood out on the table for you…..
I often tell people that i have three “only children”. There are nearly 10 years between the first two, and nearly another five before the third came along. So tho they each have some of the traditional birth order traits, they aren’t exactly perfect examples. Part of what having them so spread out creates is a huge disparity in the way they were raised. My age, my philosophy, my whole self grew and changed between births. It was as if they were raised by three different mothers.
I didn’t have much use for babies as a child. I was never a girl to always have a dolly in a stroller or make plans for my future wedding and family. My visions of the future were very different, and they revolved more around Vulcan than Walnut Grove. I didn’t babysit much as a teen. And it was less than a year after i moved to an opposite part of the country from my family when i had my first daughter. A a result, i was clueless.
But, i admit, i am a smart and resourceful woman, so i read up as best as i could. I tried to get informed. I made a lot of mistakes. Mentally, i was stunted and depressed and self-absorbed, tho i didn’t know it at the time. I was lost. In every way, i was lost. But i tried.
The magazine feminists who claim women can have it all? Be supermom, shatter the glass ceiling, look like centerfold, and be a paragon of success? They can kiss my ass.
It is impossible. I bought into it, but the stock didn’t pay off. Everything suffered. My career languished. My self-esteem dropped to negative levels. And my beautiful daughter was deprived of so much of me. Back then, the psychology of “good enough” wasn’t accepted, and the push for unattainable success coupled with the inevitable failure was more than most of us could take. (I was not alone. I know of many who fell into this pit.)
By my second child, i knew what a mess i was. Strangely, that helped a lot. I made sure i was as prepared for the post-partum depression that had crippled me with my first. I was living in a foreign country, even farther from family, but i forced myself to take advantage of support services available. I didn’t feel the need to do everything. I was content to be Ma. I stuck with much of the things i had adopted with my first – breast feeding, cloth diapers, homemade baby food… – only now, i didn’t hate myself for my inability to always get it right. I did my best to enjoy the moments with her that i had been incapable of fully experiencing with my oldest. As a result, she got far more of me than her sister did.
By the time my son was born, i was old enough that i had settled into myself. And while that was good for me, it may not have been the best for my son. I was no longer on my toes, pre-empting bad decisions and flung peas. I merely sighed and cleaned them up. I didn’t get wound up when he ate mulch. And tho i called poison control when he sprayed Lysol in his mouth to combat his bad breath, it didn’t render me stomach sick or desperate to flagellate myself as punishment. I was chill. That lack of concern bubbled over into him. He has a nonchalance about life that will preclude him ever being the head of an empire. Of course, he probably will never have an ulcer either, so it isn’t all bad.
Now that my children are more weeds than weedlings, i am able to see more clearly the impact i have had on them. And while it is true that my clinical depression, my aggregate unrest, and my self-ignorance have laid permanent scars on my children; they have also been marked with some good things. They are all three charitable and non-judgmental. They are intelligent. They are curious. They are kind. They are entertaining. They are fearless. They are beautiful. At least some of that had to have come from me. What they are, who they are… Some of that is me.
Wow. It’s amazing when you really think about it.
They really love. They really live. My weedlings… They are truly good people.
So i guess i was good enough.