My Mom was a single parent for most of my childhood. She worked constantly to keep a roof over our heads and all on her own; my Dad didn’t bother paying child support. I can tell you a million amazing things about my Mom. The number one thing I can say is that while my Mom might not have been the most physically affectionate person, you could talk to her about anything. I’m sure some of the things we told her over the years horrified her but she never let it show, she just listened and gave the best advice she could.
I would say mornings were not her strong suit. When I was a kid I kind of just thought my Mom was crazy before work. As an adult and a mom I know that it was me and Erin that were making her crazy. It is an impossible job to get yourself and two kids ready in any sort of reasonable or predictable time frame. IMPOSSIBLE. So, mornings at my house came with a lot of screaming, there were a lot of days when I left for school drying my eyes and trying to keep my lip from trembling. Yesterday, I had one of those mornings. They are few and far between around here, in fact, it was probably the third such morning in 12 years which probably isn’t too bad in the big scheme of things, but it felt awful.
Gracie is my challenging child; she is tough as nails and it will serve her well, and really, I’m glad that she’s so tough. As long as we can teach her to make good decisions she’ll be amazing; NO ONE can take this kid off her course, she is a force of nature. Yesterday was a school day and the whole thing was my fault; we had an hour and a half to get ready and I somehow managed to get sidetracked to the point where I had about six minutes to get her dressed and her hair done. Let’s just say she does not do well without a ten minute warning and let’s just say that open defiance makes me a crazy person. There was an awful lot of screaming on my part and crying on her part. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it was the worst parenting moment of my life, so far; wait, it’s the second worst, the worst one involved a destroyed wedding cake and we’ll save that story for another time. I felt first furious and then just ashamed. I’m sure she was confused and scared and the only reason I’m sharing this with you is because I truly believe we’ve all been there, or at least close, and I think it’s better for everyone when you don’t feel alone in your bad parenting moments. We took some time to regroup, Gracie actually went thirty minutes without speaking, which made me cry and then we went off to school red eyed and late. I spent the next two and a half hours mentally beating myself and she spent the next two and a half hours having a great time playing with her friends. I was worried that she’d still be not speaking when I picked her up. When I walked in the door she dropped what she was doing, flung herself into my arms and said, “Mommy, I love you, I missed you so much” and I cried some more. The perseverance of children.
When you have a child at some point you have to think about what it would be like to lose them. You might know someone with a sick child, you have a sick child or maybe you just watched a fictional sick child on TV. Last night Shonda Rhimes tried to KILL me. If you watch Private Practice you know what I’m talking about. As a mom I try not to even think about losing one of my kids, it literally makes me sick to my stomach. As the mother of twins I have a separate concern; twins are so bonded what happens to the twin left behind? They have a whole lifetime of connectedness, yes; they are separate people, but, at the same time they are two halves of a whole. My twins have been communicating with each other since they were less than a year old; far longer than they've been communicating with me. Last night’s episode of Private Practice had desperately sick nine year old identical twins and only one could be saved. The parents pretty much had to choose which child would live; which means they also chose which child would die; Sophie’s Choice. IMPOSSIBLE. I cried like an idiot from beginning to end.
A couple of weeks ago my brother was going to bring Aidan home and to do so he has to cross over the Fox River. Well, I had this terrible day dream that they went over the bridge and I could see them pulling Aidan's dead body out of the ice. I cried all day, every time I thought about it. I couldn’t call Erin and tell him not to go that way because what if he went a different way and something happened…so I avoided talking to him until they were safely home. I’m tearing up while I write this; those crazy images just stay with you. I’m lucky, I have three kids, they’re all very healthy despite all being born premature we’ve had it really easy. By the time I was six I’d had stitches four times; not one of my kids has needed stitches. In 12 years of parenting I’ve had three emergency room visits and only one of those was for an accident; Gracie broke the tip of her finger in our van hinge last summer while I was drinking margaritas and watching her (yet another story for another day).
You have all of these moments in a day; moments when you feel so crazy you think you won’t make it out the other side, moments of such overwhelming love that you don’t know how your heart holds it all, moments of weakness and shame, moments of pride and moments of thinking you finally have it all figured out. And that is exactly what they are; moments. When you have a morning like Gracie and I had yesterday all you can do is pick yourself up, dust yourself off and vow to do better the next time. As a child I had a lot of bad mornings, my kids will have had a few and maybe, God willing, my grandchildren won’t know a bad morning. We do the best we can and when we know better we do better (thank you Maya Angelou and Oprah)
Yesterday, Multiples and More featured me as their Shout Out Blogger of the Week, for me, it was really exciting. Better than the crazy number of hits on my blog it caused were the comments; I love to hear from other parents. I hope something I say touches something in them and always their comments touch something in me. We are all the same, no matter our political views, our racial or religious background, our similarities as moms are much more than our differences and for me, at least, it gives me an amazing sense of belonging. For that, I thank you.