October 19, 2010

Ebb, Flow, & Fine Print

You cannot force yourself.  I mean, you can try.  And it’s fruitless.  That’s what I think, anyway. 

Parenting just has an ebb and flow.  And occasionally, more often than I like at any rate, the piping backs up and we’re a mess.  A big messy mess. 

It’s slightly embarrassing that I’m the only mother yelling across the play area at the mall.  And all the other mothers stop chatting about this and that and hold their trendy pink travel coffee mugs mid-air and stare my direction.  Like I’ve broken code.  Like I’m just totally breaking all the rules of appearing like I have it all together.  I thought the stained t-shirt, flip flips in Fall, and baseball cap would have given that away on our entry – but apparently not so much.  And there I sit, a big messy mess – yelling for Quint to not slap the moses-supposes out of some hapless 6 year old.  I mean, he’s little – but never underestimate a toddler.  He will take a big kid down.  It’s on like Donkey Kong when my son is in range. 

And so it goes.

It’s slightly disenchanting when you have a mall picnic planned.  Lunch packed.  Organized stroller.  Wipes, check!  And then your child spits egg all over you.  Hard-boiled, dry egg yolk.  And it wasn’t his fault.  Not really.  It was dry and he’s had a cough.  And it was all over my hair and shirt before I could re-think the whole making a coughing kid eat a boiled egg for lunch at the mall picnic-thingy.  I might have yelped.  And those around us, hoping for a quiet lunch-break in the food court?  They didn’t have that quiet lunch break.  No, no they did not. 

And so it goes.

It’s really hard to think straight when your sweet baby girl…that cute, chubby little goddess who stares up at you with such longing and tenacity decides your leg is theirs for the biting.  And it’s not like we planned it out this way.  Biting is a no.  A big fat NO.  But apparently?  I have a lot to chomp down on and in a moment of weakness, she could not resist.  Only I was in public.  And it was embarrassing the way I shrieked like a school-girl and burst into plump uncontainable tears.  I have a poor pain tolerance.  It’s my thing.  Pain.  No tolerance. 

So there I am crying.  Because I’ve been bitten.  And I have egg in my hair.  And I opened up my “mommy boom” in the play area and all the other moms stared at me and made me feel stupid and mean and horrible.  And I have egg in my hair.  Seriously.

And here’s the moral of this tale.  As a mother, I have many moments of joy – certainly.  But I also have many, many moments of messy mess.  It’s the ebb and flow.  The “mess” was probably in the fine print, but as with many things, I didn’t read all that heading into this gig.  I missed the bit about the egg.  How bout’ you? 

I also know that on those messy days I am unusually hard on myself.  To be more.  To be better.  And while I don’t know why I like to kick myself while I’m down, I do know that it’s a very hard cycle to break.  It’s on our worst days that we rise to fan the flames of insecurity and discontent.  When we start finding towels to throw in.  When we break down a little bit more.

And I said all this, on here, in this way to tell you something that a mother of four told me at the end of this messy day.

She said, “on your worst day…you’re still doing a great job.  You are.  You’re doing it.”

And you may have a sore bite mark on your leg, dried egg on your face and in your hair, and the memory of contemptuous gazes fresh in your mind.  You may.  You may have cried a bit more today than you’d care to talk about.  But you’re still doing it.  Little by little. 

Ebb and flow.

Messy mess by messy mess.  And you’re doing a great job.

And this too shall pass.  I know because it says so in the fine print.


Anonymous said...

Did they really give you dirty looks? That is so rude. Sorry you had those rough moments..I've sure been there. You were probably very happy to get in the car and drive home! ~Holly

Valerie said...

You are so funny and I know literal. Sigh, that wise mother of four (Hi Nina) is right in the end the score is getting through another day, with them snuggled safe in their beds and with full tummies and nothing terriably wrong with them save for a runny nose here and there.

I never even got the manual, half the time I think mine are broken, until I witness other models out in public and realize, hey, I'm no Donna Reed, but I'm also no Joan Crawford.

You are doing great, besides how many really detailed things can you recall about your own parents, perhaps a handful at most ok maybe a dozen or so, over a lifetime it really starts to seem inconsequential.

Give yourself a break and get a muzzle for the leg biter.

xoxox Valerie

Anonymous said...

wow! yahoooo! you tell it girl! you really should have a magazine column, or maybe a little encouraging book with some of your delish photos to go with!! blessings, mrs k.

Becky and Naing said...

Yep you live my life, but in a different city:) Sometimes I feel like I have become the screaming Mom I used to judge prior to having children. Sometimes it is the only option to get their attention, when you have two children 9 months apart the days are more of the "messy" kind than any other right now.

The Gang's Momma! said...

Oh this is priceless. I love it.

Motherhood is messy. It is painful, it is excruciating, it is smelly.

But it is also sustaining. And nourishing. And beautiful. Sometimes never more than when we've just been through the most painful (bites count!) and excruciating stinky messes of them all.

You made it to the end of the day. Everyone got fed. Everyone had all their limbs. Everyone still loved everyone else in the house. You did it. :) Take those victories where you get them.

And next time, ask those condescending, plastic Mommy-wannabe's if their precious little smoochums puke pure gold or poop platinum? Cuz really, it all comes out in the wash otherwise :)