I’ve been a mother for over ten-and-a-half years and I’ve loved and been grateful for every single nanosecond of motherhood. I’ve even loved the nanoseconds (and hours and days) that have driven me crazy. Because if you have to feel worried, frustrated, or guilty, what better reason to feel those things than your child, right? To elaborate, I’ll just tell you about yesterday morning.
Guilt: I was too tired and lazy to make a new batch of homemade granola, so the kids got Cheerios for breakfast.
Guilt spills into worry: I am feeding my sons crap with preservatives and causing their beta cells to work harder than they should. Will this lead to beta cell exhaustion and diabetes in thirty years? Other things, too?
Frustration: After three spoonfuls of Cheerios, two-year-old Adam dumped the bowl. Half of it spilled onto the table and started dripping to the floor. The other half was in his lap. Before I had Adam out of his high-chair the dog was licking up the mess. I took Adam to the bathroom to rinse him off. After I dried him, he ran to the living room while I went to get a diaper and clean clothes. During the 20 seconds that I was gone Adam managed to climb onto the only piece of fabric upholstered furniture in our apartment and pee on it.
I stayed calm, dressed Adam and got soap and rags to clean the chair. He watched me and said over and over again, “Oh no, it’s wet.”
Thinking the worst was over, I went to get some new cleaning supplies to deal with the leftover Cheerios mess which now had a fair amount of dog slobber mixed into it. The minute I turned around, Adam climbed into the pee-chair and sat down right in the spot I’d just scrubbed.
“Oh no, it’s wet,” he said.
And so I had to change his clothes again.
Too bad this wasn’t a Mother’s Day slapstick movie, right? If it were, you guys would be eating popcorn and laughing and I’d have made a few million dollars for feigning frustration. But, no… it was real life and popcorn requires more insulin than it’s worth, and my frustration was so real I was fighting back tears.
As soon as I’d cleaned the Cheerios and slobber and felt like things were in order, Adam went to the snack drawer, helped himself to a bag of pretzels, ate a few, and then dumped the rest on the couch. By that time I wasn’t even frustrated anymore. I half-laughed to myself. At least it’s not wet, I thought.