Friday, June 13, 2008

Being Mom

So I'm thinking about mothers. On the Wom-Po listserv, there's been a discussion about the "mother-daughter wars" inspired, in part, by Rebecca Walker & Alice Walker, and the book Rebecca has written which apparently is not so positive about Alice. I want to read the book; it's on my list of things to get next trip to B&N. I've been a fan of Rebecca since I learned what Third Wave feminism is, and I think I get what she's been saying pretty well, minus having actually READ the book yet.

I am also reading a Joyce Carol Oates' book called Missing Mom-- just started it, but it's good so far. (And sidenote-- I think Oates has one of the best author photos out there... she looks all dreamy and wide eyed...pretty, in a kind of brainy girl way). It promises to have been written around the time Oates' mother died, and is about the inevitable final separation we all face.
So moms: I try to be a good mom. We always have these things we promise ourselves we will never do, things we catch ourselves doing anyway. The other day I told my daughter I'd "give her something to cry about." To my credit, I was joking. She was whiney and crabby all day and I really felt frustrated with her, and wanted her to stop. And it popped into my head and I thought, "hey, it's a classic." I know the ridiculousness of whacking a crying kid to stop them from crying, though. And just saying it made the urge to do so go away, and me to laugh, and get a grip on it and then distract her, instead, with a visit to her Curious George poster.

Andrew & I are what is called Attachment parents, in most ways. We try very hard to not over discipline, but to encourage the babies with love. Yes, discipline is needed. But we spend a lot of time with our kids. We don't drop them at the babysitter's house after they've been a daycare all day (although I can understand when there is a need for that, too-- people have to earn a living.) We feed them as best as we can, we try to be educated about childhood illness, we cheer when they do something well, we read to them, sometimes as much as 30 minutes a night. And yet, we miss things. We missed Sean's hearing issue. We sometimes let Maia get away with being a prissy whiney thing, and give her what she wants just so she'll stop whining.

But, we apparently do the unpardonable sins of letting them watch TV. Of letting them eat junk food for dinner sometimes. Of letting them run loose a bit when we're at the store (I get scowls from the patrons of one of the stores, the one closest to home, for this one).
As they get older, I know we'll miss a few catches. And those are the things, inevitably, that my children will probably remember best. Not the hours of snuggling, waking with tickles, etc. But the one thing we do that we regret instantly. The day we did X when Maia or Sean wanted to do Y.
I think of this and hope that my children will have the perspective to recognize that as a mom, I'm not perfect, but I'm always trying. It's the best I can do, even when I am not doing anything else well, I am pretty proud of my mommy-skills. At least now, before they are teens.


Brigindo said...

I'm a firm believer that a good mom can never be a perfect mom. A perfect mom, if it were possible to have such a thing, would drive you crazy. And it would make leaving so much harder, which is something I've come to realize they really have to do.

Don't worry about the teen years. They are delightful. The hard part for me is that I'm just now understanding what is meant by children being guests in your home.

slyboots2 said...

It's funny but for some reason the really amazing stuff I remember more from my grandparents. I think for my parents, our reality was so mundane in a way that the good stuff just doesn't stand out. And that is fine- there aren't any huge aching holes in there, and I still miss my mommy tremendously when I am sick (and need her care) and when I want to shop (and need her opinion) and when I garden (and need her company). You will raise them to understand, it's part of your plan, right?

Seriously, if they have compassion and empathy and aren't little narcissists they will be fine. And even if they lack those things on occasion, good efforts will win out. I am convinced- from my own parents. Teenage years and all. We survived. It's all good.