Pin It Today was one of those days. I was not in a good mood. I'm in an even worse mood now, thinking about how it went. I'm all melancholy. I would play sad songs on my IPOD if I could find it.
The blog world is full of posts that are such wonderful, loving, inspirational examples of parenting. I love those posts. They make me cry and they fill me with resolve to be a better mother, to be THAT kind of mother. And blog world or no, there are a lot of days when I am so full of love for my children that I think I'm going to explode.
But then there are those other days, when I'm filled to the brim with irritation, and every other word out of my mouth is snappish. Days when I'm living in my head, planning something or thinking about something or rehashing something, and my children's interactions with me feel like an intrusion, like an interruption. There are days when I just want them to leave me alone.
Today my son had to repeat himself four times because even though I was looking at him and saying "What?!" - I still wasn't really listening. I was just nodding, vacantly, thinking about other things. He was frustrated with me, rightfully so. It happens far too often. And I wonder if it makes him feel insignificant, if it makes him feel ignored. Because that's what I'm doing. I'm ignoring the hum of noise and activity around me - zoning it out and retreating into myself, into my thoughts.
Abby said, "Mom, could you read me a story?" She was hopeful. "Maybe later," I said, and I knew I probably wouldn't, at least not today. She wandered off and later on, I pretended not to notice that she was sorting through a pile of books, trying to sound out words on her own. (Mother of the freaking year, I am.)
Sarah said in the sweetest, politest tone possible (because that's how she is), "Mommy, may you please do Mad Libs with me?" and for no reason at all I snapped, "Not right now." Without even thinking about it. Without even really considering it. I just didn't want to be bothered. Later, at bedtime she said wistfully, "I wish we would have had time to do Mad Libs," and she wasn't accusatory, but sad. And I felt like crap.
I got really mad at my son at bedtime and I yelled at him, REALLY yelled at him, over nothing. I sent him to his room and heard him crying pitifully and so I went after him. I crawled up on his bed with him and laid down next to him, and told him I was sorry, and that I loved him, and luckily he has a very forgiving heart, because he wrapped his arms around my neck and hugged me. He cried a little more and told me through his tears, "You hurt my feewings vewy much mom." I stayed there with him until he fell asleep, still hugging me, and berated myself for being such a giant turd.
I could probably make plenty of somewhat reasonable sounding excuses - it's not a big deal, everyone does that now and then, but I wonder if that's a cop-out. How many days of loving attention counteract how many days of benign neglect and irritation? How many days of parental emotional self indulgence = children who remember you as, primarily, an inattentive shrew? I don't have a lot of confidence in that kind of math.
I read a post tonight, a poem that wonderful Emily wrote for her mother. It starts like this:
You are my giving tree;
And I am the greedy—needy—little boy.
You give your shade, your fruit,
Bark, wood, stump,
And I take.
(Go read the whole thing here - wipe off your mascara first.)
Later she talks about finding comfort and solace in her relationship with her mother. And THAT's the kind of mom I want to be. Not a stomping around, selfish, self involved harpy mother. A soft landing place. But you don't just get that spot because of biology. You earn it. I do have a lot of good days as a mom, days when I read to them and take them to the park and sing with them and play with them and talk to them. But I have what feels like a lot of bad days too. If I'm a good mom 60% of the time, and a calm but inattentive zombie 30% of the time and a really bad mom 10% of the time - what am I earning? Do I want to take the risk that they remember only the good stuff?
Every day I'm shaping their memory of me. I'm shaping our future relationship. Every single day. With every single action.
We are so screwed.