I woke up at 5.30am today to meditate, be with myself, write in my journal and prepare for the day. Yummmmmm!
Creep out of bed, quietly, quietly. Go into a room and q u i e t l y close the door. Don’t want to wake anyone up ‘cos then I’ll lose this precious opportunity. My mind is already settling into stillness, I can feel this is going to be a good meditation. I’m excited for this snippet of peace before a child-filled day.
My 3-year old needs a filling in his tooth and the dentist wants to put him under full sedation in a theatre. For a filling! Really? Google the dangers of anaesthesia for a toddler. Go on, scare yourself!
So today I’m taking him to someone who is good and who’s attitude is, “If he can co-operate we can do it without sedation.” Co-operate? My little guy is in a defiance stage – he’ll do it because you told him not to. Oh the joys. Now I have to take him to lie in a scary chair, open his mouth for loud drills and injections…
I’m going to need my wits about me this morning. There’s a lot riding on it. If we can’t do it he goes into theatre. FOR A FILLING! Not gonna happen.
After that I need to shop with the little guy, fetch my wonderful visiting relative, feed, cart and contain four children under 7 from school to playdates, socialise, be nice, remain functional…
So I need this quiet time. Reeeaally need it.
But what’s this? Little feet padding up to my carefully closed door.
Oprah says a child looks to see if your eyes light up when they enter the room. Mine sure light up but not for the right reasons.
What damage did I cause when my first response to seeing my beloved son is, “Oh for %#^*$ sake’s! Not you!” (I don’t think I actually said it out loud but it’s all a blur…)
I literally feel sharp pain in my heart when I think of how that must have felt from his side – but it was one of those moments when something really good is taken away from you. That moment when your ice-cream falls out of your cone and hits the dirty floor.
And I try to repair. Barely containing my surge of rage and pain at losing My Good Thing I tell us both, “Mama needs some time alone. I especially woke up early to do it. You know you’re not allowed out of bed before 6am. Go lie with your dad for a cuddle until then. I’ll be back. I’ll be with you all day but right now I need some time alone so that I can be nice.”
Screaming , shrieking, whining, tears and clinging in response – him this time, not me. But after a while something about my angry desperation seeps in and he gives me a sweet hug and reluctantly compromises for his adoring father instead of his volatile mother.
So here I am, alone at last, taking my #%*^@ quiet time!
Adrenalin pumping, guilt, shame, anger and self-righteousness hosting a WWF championship inside me…
So much for meditation.
I want to just love them, I really do. I want to be that calm, nurturing, all-accepting, never-ruffled mom person thing but they make it so damn hard sometimes!
And it’s not even their fault. I’m sitting here now feeling like a selfish, bad mother because I wanted some alone time, especially got up at 5.30am to get it and became angry with my child for wanting his mama.
Mostly because I got angry with him about it.
Is there REALLY a mom like that out there? The one we all fantasise about and compare ourselves to? Do some parents manage to contain their irritation and weariness at ALL times? Parents who GENUINELY don’t EVER mind attending to the never-ending demands regardless of their state of well-being or health? Is it only about my issues, my wounding?
Do you ever wonder, does anyone out there actually attain The Gold Standard of Parenting or are we all shaming ourselves over a fantasy?
Well I meet families occasionally that seem especially grown-up and romantically perfect. Some of them have later broken apart in the most fantastical ways (mother swallowed up by cult, or Father going out to get the paper and instead flying abroad never to return. I seriously know these people.) So guess maybe the gold standard has some cracks in it.
Wow! Those are impressive people to know. Truly.
But when you put it like that, I’m hearing you say that if we try to put that Gold Standard pressure on ourselves we will find a way to run for the hills – literally or metaphorically. So I say let’s just make space for the real and honest. Waddaya say? Are you with me?
Or is this the part where you flee, leaving me hanging out here as the “what not to do” example…?
This is where I give you a hug and bear in mind the saying about meeting the Buddha on the road.
Wait, what DO they say about meeting the Buddha on the road?
(a bear hug)
I don’t think that mom exists anywhere other than in our heads. Oh, it’s so great to be perfect, yadda yadda. Just one small problem i have to remind myself of – it’s not possible to be perfect! Especially if we’re actually around, doing the hard graft of mothering all day! In those dark moments we all have, I tell myself that what counts is that we want to be as good as we can because we really, really love them. And they know that!
That’s so true! They DO know that, don’t they? Ha! That’s a nice addition. Thanks
The Gold Standard of Parenting can only awarded to parent by a child who has realised how challenging it is to be the “Perfect Parent” , being parents themselves and who has therefore developed some compassion for their parents, who did the best they could within the capacities they held at the time of their early parenting days.
Further more, as women, a mother and a fellow traveller who is hoping to learn from past mistakes and do things differently, I still make mistakes. I applaud once again your bravery in putting your most vulnerable self out there, allowing the rest of us mortals to not feel so alone in our attempts of trying to be worthy parents. I also applaud you for recognising that you needed some with self in order to quiet the mind and reconnect and for giving yourself permission to this and demonstrating the importance of it.
In response to you reaction to your son’s presence, perhaps not ideal but totally human. Nobody likes something precious taken from them, as was demonstrated by your mirror, your son. His desire was to connect, as was yours and both of you reacted in the same way, although his was more explicit. It would seem though in your moment of imperfection having your quiet time taken from you, you still remained present for his venting until he was able to release you, albeit all the raw emotions you were feeling inside, astounding. Perhaps all he needed was to held while experiencing his feelings of frustation and then was happy to let you go.
And so it seems you did achieve connection, however with it came a friend who I know all to well, The Inner Critic, who quite honestly, I still struggle with tremendously, but am slowly starting see it as the culprit in my feelings of shame when I’m not able to live up to the ‘Ideal’ or the fantasy.
But I’m learning that my negative emotions are my friends too as my mentor once told me. They tell me about my limits and my transgressions and when my inner critic is at work. So coming back to you, if you son only got the all loving, calm, nurturing mom, how is he going to learn to accept his chaotic, less nurturant side of himself. He’ll only see a half truth to which he will spend his entire life trying to live up to. You showed perfection in that although you were disappointed and running on fumes of love you still held him until he was ready to go, when he experienced his mama’s love. Would he have hugged you if he didn’t ? He immediately returned the love when his love tank was full, as would you when you filled up yours.
To all the mom’s like myself who have to run on fumes sometimes I believe that it also serves it purpose, however,we are allowed and deserve the time to refill our love tanks so that we are able to once again abundantly share that deeply needed nourishment.
Wow Zubeida what a heartfelt and compassionate response.Thank you for the acknowledgement and for your insights. There is so much to say and feel in response to it…
This is exactly what discourses of motherhood do to us. It sets us up for feeling like failures. Perfection and this planet does not gel. This is the planet where we come to experience the opposites. We have to change these constructions of motherhood. They are detrimental to both men and women. They do not enable growth and keep us locked in a time warp.
Halleluyah, hear hear and HOORAY! I LOVE your comment. It’s the very reason I gathered up the courage to actually put this piece out there. Well, that and practicing the courage to be vulnerable. But it is time we create a space for the reality to be acceptable. Only in that can we find the compassion for ourselves that these comments are showing. I don’t know about you all but when I feel like a failure I am less nurturing and compassionate with everyone around me – and that includes my children. So it’s a vicious cycle. If you believe in ‘perfect’ you set yourself up to fail and when you fail you feel shame and that makes you act WAY less perfect.
We are all perfectly imperfect. Can we just love ourselves like that? Can we show those parts of ourselves and know we are loved anyway?