I don’t consider myself a mom-blogger. But lately I’ve been receiving so many comments about how my recent posts on motherhood have been inspiring and heartening, that I’ve been able to articulate things for some of you in important ways. It’s flattering to hear such a thing, but also really befuddling.
(Caught in action by my sneaky husband.)
For the most part, I don’t think I know the first thing about motherhood. I constantly have the feeling that I’m the mom in the room who knows the least about raising children, that I’m the one doing it wrong. That I’m the one who hasn’t read the books, hasn’t researched the schools. I’m the one who forgot to sign up for the right classes, had no idea I could do this or that, or worse, that I should be doing this or that.
At any given moment I feel like the least prepared/knowledgeable/informed/creative mama in the lot of us.
I’m terrible at sleep-training. Juliette is still sleeping full nights in bed with me and is, at this very moment, taking her morning nap in the ergo on my chest as I stand at a dresser writing this. I’m still trying to figure out discipline techniques with Veronica and I don’t even really know what that means besides me getting frustrated and yelling, then lots of apologetic snuggling, then usually bribery in the form of chocolate.
And those are just today’s issues. The list is endless.
Most of the time I feel like motherhood is this big, crazy thing that’s just happening to me. I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water and that, at best, I’m simply reacting to something that keeps coming at me. I’ve said this before, and it’s the thing I say when I’m trying to apologize for my parenting short-comings, but I just never really thought about being a mom. It wasn’t something I ever longed for or dreamed about, or pictured for myself. There are lots of other things in my life that I’ve been plotting since childhood — traveling and writing and great romantic love, and when those things have arrived they’ve felt much different than motherhood has.
To me , becoming a mother has felt like being forced to jump out of an airplane, figuring out how to use a parachute mid-air, and then landing in a country I’ve never even heard of , where I certainly don’t speak the language or know the customs. It’s been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-let’s-try-this-hope-it-works kind of experience. For me.
At playdates in the park and in the beautiful, put-together homes of my friends where their kids have Etsy-designed nurseries and playrooms and toy kitchen sets and fancy high chairs and just even dishwashers in the real kitchens, my heart sinks, and over and over again, I feel like a failure. I feel like I’m doing it all wrong, that I shouldn’t have just let motherhood happen to me like this, that I should have been more prepared, that I should have been running at this huge experience head-on in order to greet it and grab it and be the best possible mom I can be.
Instead I just stuff my kids back in the double stroller and rush home to rearrange the photos on Veronica’s wall, briefly reorganize her toys and give myself a lengthy chastisement for letting her have too much pink, plastic stuff. And then the next day I give in to her whining and let her pick out a Barbie at Target. See? Utter disaster.
The truth is that I rarely even let myself read mom blogs. Over the holidays I indulged in a few and then I spent Christmas Eve in a dejected state, making lists of all the ways in which I need to be a better mom in the year to come. I got out my notebook and made lists of traditions I want to start, and creative projects I want to do, and all throughout, I had this terrible panicky feeling that I’m right in the throes of this big, important time with my girls and I’m not giving them what they deserve.
However, despite all of the above, I don’t think I’m a bad mom. I love these two little girls like I’ve loved nothing else in the great, wide world. Becoming a mother has meant fulfilling the biggest dream I never had. It’s just that all that comes with it is so confusing and there is so much pressure to do it right, to make it pretty and picture-perfect and it so rarely ever is. The truth is that I don’t think I’ll ever be the mother I’m supposed to be. And I think that’s okay. I also think I’m not alone in feeling this way.