Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Good Mother

I have a lot riding on being a good mother. It's what I DO. Having quit the outside, paycheck giving, grind over 16 years ago, I have concentrated on the old fashioned, much maligned, yet still happens occasionally, honorable profession of stay at home motherhood. It's a blessing to have this luxury.

My last blog was a sort of defense of that choice. Surprising what it stirred up. Some thought I was being too apologetic. Or defensive. I suppose I was. Even if I was self-critical, I thought the questions were worth asking, and subsequently answering. Is defensiveness always bad? Isn’t it valuable sometimes to question what you do, why you do it? And isn’t it equally valuable to consider various parameters and come to a conclusion which is self affirming? I know other people feel free to be critical of me, but when I do it to myself, do we think I’m overly harsh? Someone else was actually angry with me for being too judgmental. Of myself!

I find it strikes a chord with other stay at home mothers. Not so much the choice to have taken that path, but the evaluative, self critical inner voices that ask whether having made the choice, it was the right one. And if it was indeed the right one, are we doing it well?

My favorite story to go to when I feel like an utterly frazzeled, unable to cope, help me I’m going insane and losing control, bad mother who yells too much goes like this.

When Milly was about 4, she was having a play date with one of her little friends from preschool. I’ll call him Howard. It was a weekday, and the youngsters were happily playing outside, inside, running circles around the inner hallways of the house. They were content. I was trying to motivate Alice (then 11) to get her homework done. She wasn’t concentrating. She was objecting to doing the rest of her assignment. I was very frustrated. Blah, blah, blah. I yelled very loudly at her to just get it done. Then I heard the younger kids get quiet, and I held my breath. I thought to myself, 'oh no, Howard is going to be freaked out that I just yelled like that and want to go home. Oh, why oh why did I lose my temper like that?' I saw the door open slowly, and Milly and Howard peeked their heads out. Howard looked around and asked, “Is my Mother here?”

It took me a few seconds to realize he wasn’t asking this because he was scared of me and wanted to get away from this crazy screamer. He recognized it as something that he hears at his house. He thought it was his Mother who was screaming. I don’t know when I’ve ever felt so ok with my simple flaws. To paraphrase R.E.M, “everybody screams,,,, sometimes.”

And to quote Jodi Picould in “House Rules”, “Rest easy good mothers. The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already are one.” I mostly agree.

No comments:

Post a Comment