She's a go-getter, that mother in my dreams. She bakes cookies in her immaculately clean kitchen that looks like it came from between the covers of Home and Garden Magazine. She is an active member of the PTA, knows the names of all her kids teachers, friends, and her neighbors. She reads her two babies a story at night before she tucks them in, kissing their freshly washed heads that smell of Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo.
She's witty and funny. Hosts dinner parties, birthday parties, and the occasional backyard BBQ. Her older children laugh and tease with her, having an open and honest relationship based on mutual respect and genuine affection.
She always helps with homework, and remembers the capital of all fifty states without hesitation. While folding her crisp white sheets she gently breaths in the homey aroma of fabric softener. She is patient. She is kind. She is adored by her children....
And now for a dose of reality. I am NONE of those things. I want to be. I wish I was. I try - when I'm not completely overwhelmed with my life - to be like the mother in my dreams. In all honesty however I am not exactly a go getter. And baking cookies? Fah-getta-bout-it! Oh, and that kitchen I see in my head? Well let's just say I'd be more likely to be showcased in Goodwill Weekly if they had one than Better Homes and Gardens. My decorating style is pretty much, "hey I can afford that" and whenever possible, "sure I'll take it if it's free!"
I've only been to a handful of PTA meetings and I've decided it's not my thing. The women are stuck up. It just feels like junior high school all over again. The popular kids reigning over the lowly band geeks who desperately just want to be included! No thanks... pass... I have precious little time, and I guess it makes me a bad mother to say that I have no desire to spend my evenings counting soup labels when I could be doing just about ANYTHING else.
Honesty time; While I know the names of my younger two kids' teachers I haven't a single clue what my two older kids (both in middle school) teachers names are. I haven't met a single one. They don't have conferences anymore, and I was working when the open house came around this summer. Is that a valid excuse? Perhaps... but most likely not.
I don't know all my neighbors, and honestly it's just not high on my to-do list. They seem nice. I wave when I see them. I just don't have the time or energy to care to make friends at this point. I leave at the butt crack of dawn for work, and come home exhausted at night. When my kids get a bath they get their hair washed with whatever I can find, and yes, once it was the dogs oatmeal shampoo. Hey - clean is clean right? And as a side benefit they were flea and tick free for up to 30 days.
Horrible, I know. So I might as well keep on confessing that I don't read bed time stories, by the time nine o'clock rolls around all I want is to crawl between the covers and escape into sleep. I'm more likely to say, "oh for the love of baby Jesus just go to bed!!!" than to sweetly whisper gentle wishes as I tuck them in. And for their own sake they better not get up ten times or I'm pretty much guaranteed to make ridiculous threats that involve gypsy slave labor camps.
I help with homework while doing a minimum of four other things. I'm the single mom of four kids... you don't get my undivided attention. It's not possible. For this I'm truly sorry, and I have immense amounts of maternal guilt, but there is nothing I can do about that. I don't know the state capitals, I doubt I ever did. Oh Google How I Love Thee...
Shall I go on? My house is always in a constant state of flux. We clean on the go, we eat on the go. I don't have fluffy towels and crisp white sheets. You grab a towel from the dryer before you hop in the shower, and if you're lucky it doesn't have a pair of underwear stuck to it from static cling. My mismatched sheets are also a Goodwill bargain, and they've never been described as crisp. Wrinkled and Slightly Damp is the usual way of things around here. I'm just thrilled when they don't smell like dog or sweaty kids.
I'm that mom, who just today took her kids to the fair and spent the day frustrated, annoyed, and head-achy. It was horrible. We didn't bond, we didn't laugh and ride the carousel with the wind in our hair. I was cranky and on edge. They were whiny and demanding. We left after four hours - 300 bucks poorer and with a migraine pulsing behind my eyes. I was impatient. I yelled. I feel terrible. They feel terrible. This was not a good day.
I just hope someday their insurance has mental health coverage for all the therapy my kids are going to need in the future.