Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Not Throwing in the Towel

I admit it. There are several times during my 20+ years of parenthood when I have felt like maybe I’m not cut out for the job. When my kids were infants, a casual lunch with a friend might push me over the edge. She would glow and brag about how motherhood was just the best and how there weren’t enough hours in the day to spend with her golden child. It’s not that I didn’t love my children, but there were multiple times when, frankly, I had no clue what I was doing and it seemed like maybe the kids had caught on to that fact. This parenting thing, in case you haven’t noticed, is a rather inexact science.

When we brought my second son home from the hospital, I distinctly remember putting him in his crib, standing over him, staring and thinking: “OK. Now what?” It was one of the most important moments of my life and I felt completely alien to it all.

While some of my friends lamented leaving their children with a babysitter, I had one foot halfway out the door at the mere suggestion of giving us a night out. I wasn’t crazy about arranging for a babysitter, but if somebody offered, I’d be all over it!

I had a secret deal with myself: I would try not to criticize other parents out loud because I had no clue what kind of parenting genes I had. When the day care director told me that my son had hit a girl in his class, I dragged him to the car, drove him over to the girl’s house and made him apologize to the parents. Then I stood on their doorstep and sobbed. To me, it was evidence of my complete and utter failure as a parent. But it was not. Although my parenting skills were mediocre, I had once again gone overboard with disastrous results.

When my daughter’s impatience and frustration bubbled over into intense fits of rage, I assumed that I was soft and that any other more qualified parent could have prevented it from happening. Maybe that’s true, but then again, maybe it’s not.

Throughout the years, as I indulged my children because it was easier than arguing with them, catered to their culinary preferences and pretty much molded our life around them (often at our expense), I worried that I had fallen asleep at the wheel of the parenting minivan. Rarely a day goes by when I don’t wish that I would have done something differently.

Still, I look at my kids today and think: Somehow it all worked out. Despite my half-baked ideas and less than stellar efforts, my kids are pretty great. How the heck did that happen?


At 4:47 PM , Blogger Em said...

Maybe it happened cause you are pretty great! :)

At 6:53 PM , Blogger kenju said...

My kids are great too and since I had no clue at all how to raise children, I think somebody up there liked me enough to help out, in spite of my dumb ideas. I often wonder how they got to be so great and what did I have to do with it. (Probably nothing).

At 12:52 PM , Blogger Blitz Krieg said...

I'm right there with you.

At 3:32 PM , Blogger Lynn said...

If parenting came with a manual, then it would be a whole lot easier. Can you imagine having a reference guide that allows for all possibilities? I doubt that there is enough memory in all of the universe for that. In the meantime, we as parents, just have to muddle through the whole process... and try and stick together.

At 10:36 PM , Blogger Jess Riley said...

It sounds to me like you're doing a pretty good job. :)

At 8:45 AM , Blogger Carmi said...

I wish I had a pat answer to your excellent question, Karen. I often have similar moments as I step outside myself and observe our chaotic family evolve its way forward.

I'm thankful that we have access to new media that connect us to other like-minded folks. This way, I don't feel like we're experiencing it alone.

BTW, thanks so much for dropping by this morning. I've also been so out of touch in blogland. I'm so busy with work and writing and travelling and life that I just don't have time to drop in on my favorite bloggers. Doesn't mean I'm not thinking of them - I do, and often - but I just can't log in and comment like I used to.

Hopefully this will change soon. Big life changes coming in the near future. Good ones.

BTW, I've added your blog to my blogroll. Way late. My apologies.

At 9:56 PM , Anonymous lisa said...

Hi, I just wanted to say I love your blog! I have alot of respect for the women who can call themselves imperfect mothers. Which brings me to the point of this comment. (You don't have to publish this comment, I just couldn't find another way of contacting you)

I wanted to let you know that I am adding you to my list of "blogs I love" (I don't think you'll mind. ) and was hoping you'd check mine out.

I've had some "supermoms" comment on a couple of my posts already, and would really like to get other "politically incorrect" moms to my blog to provide a little more diversity in the reader views...

Anyway, thanks alot!



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