May 24, 2011

For the Claire Dunphy's and not the Claire Huxtable's

Do you ever just feel so inadequate? Sometimes I look around my life and I wonder what in the world I did to deserve such goodness. And in the next instant I'm crying out in exhaustion and exasperation going, "What in the world did I ever do to deserve this?"


Mothering is not for the weak and a lot of the time, I'm feeling weak. Marriage is not for the weak and sometimes I'm feeling like I've been hit by a bus. I'm pretty sure that I'm normal but the ebb and flow of life and it's so many vacillating emotions sometimes just leaves me feeling depleted.

I came home from the summit on top of my therapeutic parenting game after sitting in on parenting workshops aimed at helping kids from hurt places. I was on it. I was attentive. I was seeing the emotions behind the behavior. I was giving my child healing words. I was parenting with grace and love and compassion and consistency. And yet, I still got smacked in the face (literally) by my child in front of a room full of "perfect" acting mothers who just looked at me in horror. I got angry. I wondered why I even tried. I've been blamed for my adopted child's behavior more times that I can count by people who like to flaunt their perfect children. I know that I didn't cause this (duh, it's two years in an institution!), but those words sting every time. I've been criticized for speaking out about the emotional toll that adoption has taken on our child and on the rest of our family because this is what we signed up for. People would never in a million years say that to a mother watching her child go through a terrible physical illness but for some reason with adoptive families and mental illness in our children, it's always open season. It hurts every single time.

I'm the mom who forgets to take snacks to the soccer game and the mom who forgets to send in a toy on toy day at school and all other matter of things that make my kids feel crummy. I'm the mom who looks at the floor with last nights dinner all over it where the kids dropped it and thinks, "I signed up to be a stay at home mom. Not a maid." I always envisioned myself spending hours reading books with my kids and making healthy lunches to send to school and doing craft projects all the time and somehow, after life has pulled me in all it's other directions, those other things just don't get done. And they are the ones that are most important.

I've talked to tons of elementary school students about what their lives would be like if they were children growing up in a third world country. I've talked with them about how many hours of their day would be spent just fetching water and firewood. It always blows their minds. I feel like in my life I could just replace firewood and water with keeping clothes clean and getting meals on the table and my mind would also be sufficiently blown.

I love being a stay-at-home mom. I love being able to make the field trips and being available to do all the required therapies with my boys. I love being home when my child gets off the bus and having dinner ready when my husband gets home from work. But that doesn't mean I love it every minute of every day. I feel like the double standard is high. If someone complains about their job, every one nods their heads and says, "Oh yeah. I get it." But if a mother complains even one iota- the wrath of the world comes down on her and everyone says "How dare she say one word against caring for those precious children." I feel like we still live in this culture where our grandmothers will say, "Raising kids is so hard!" but the women who are actually raising kids will spend ridiculous amounts of time trying to one up each other on the "I'm a better mother than you scale." People. Can't we all agree that no body's kids are perfect and that yes, it is hard and that's okay?!
Yes, sometimes being a mom is seeing your kid block a ball from getting inside the goal and watching his whole body fill up with pride at his accomplishment. Sometimes it's seeing them ace math tests. Sometimes it's seeing them mother their baby dolls with such compassion that you feel like you must have done something right. And sometimes it's getting smacked in the face and feeling inadequate and defeated and that's okay.
So here's to all the other women out there like me who are more Claire Dunphy than Claire Huxtable. You are good enough. You may not ever win a parenting award or be PTA president- but dammit, you are running the race. And even though your boobs are flopping and you are sweating like a pig, you are still doing it. Day after day. And in my book that constitutes the ideal perfect mom.

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