Today, a pretty good Internet friend blogged about how she’s Martha Stewart’s Worst Nightmare (point of order – jail was probably her worst nightmare). My friend is another 2e mom, a fellow author (though she’s actually published), and a homeschooler. As I read her self-castigation, there were two thoughts going through my brain. 1. I’m good at all the things she says she’s not and 2. If that’s the definition of a bad mother, then I’m a perfect mother. Except I’m not.
While my friend worries about not being able to make costumes or lacking the preplanning it takes to decorate the house, I’ll bet she doesn’t yell nearly as much as I do. Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about losing my cool and griping in a loud tone. I’m talking about being grateful that a good portion of my neighbors are deaf. Mother of two LOUD children, when I lose it, I out-shout them. I know I shouldn’t. I know I should be calm and collected. And I try so hard not to lose it. The thing is that in order for a mother to be in a situation where she has truly “lost it” that means that the nice mother manners shut off, the control fell away, and the maniac that has suffered one too many meltdowns from her child while simultaneously nursing a migraine took over.
Illustration? Pumpkin had a storybook character day at the learning center today. Understand that I never saw any paperwork that said this. The handy-dandy chart of “spirit days” doesn’t list this one at all. He was offered a flyer last week to take home and he refused it. The flyer would have told me the hours of parent night (tonight) and the last minute offering of a dress-up day for the kids. I can’t fully say that he dropped this on me yesterday. He mentioned it earlier in the week but he said it in a way that sounded fabricated. Last night when he declared that he would need his Captain Caveman costume for school, and, when questioned, told me that the “Storybook Character” idea was to keep away scary costumes, I finally realized this was probably true. Looking to the Learning Center’s website was no help. Dude, someone needs to take that sucker over. They don’t even mention parents’ night.
Dilemma: did I really want to send Pumpkin to school with a club (granted it is made of padding and duct tape) and a costume that seems perfect for being pantsed? Not really. Reasonably, I could say that Captain Caveman is not a storybook character. He’s from a cartoon. Somewhere around two a.m., when I was actually sleeping, I decided that Pumpkin should be dressed as Hiccup (his current favorite storybook character). And I woke up believing that this decision had been made consciously. Big mistake.
In a rush this morning, I dressed him in one of his Daddy’s green sweaters with the sleeves rolled up. This made it tunic length. No time to sew so I cut a fur vest out of remains from the Captain Caveman Costume. I fabricated a viking helmet from newspaper, duct tape, left over plumbing pieces, and acrylic paint. Do I sound like a wonderful, organized mother? Hmmm. Yeah, well, you must realize that I did this while getting the kids up. Which means I was stressed to the limit (bad idea). The beds still aren’t made. Pumpkin ended up watching the pancakes. The boots I meant to make had to be skipped. Ducky was pulled from his bed late. Breakfast was a thrown together mess and I didn’t even eat because I was making Pumpkin’s lunch. While I was running around like a whirling dervish doing this, Pumpkin started playing with Ducky and neither were eating. I growled. Pumpkin finally finished and I sent him to get stuff together, repeating the request five times. He started to drag around and (oh I hate this) even pretended to be a snake, slithering on his face to his room slowly rather than hurrying. Then I heard this weird sound from the backyard. Pumpkin didn’t turn the hose off after he did his dog poop chore. The backyard closely resembled a lake.
Intro Maniac Mommy who yells too much. She didn’t get to be out long. I got control of her pretty fast, but still… My own ears are still ringing.
I threw shoes on Ducky, stuffed a sippy into the diaper bag, stuffed Pumpkin’s stuff into his backpack, threw the kids in the car and headed to Riverside. Oh, did I mention the Learning Center is a half hour drive? The costume was pretty cute, but I have no pictures. There wasn’t time for that.
So, yeah, got the Martha Stewart skills down but the calm mom skills — not so much.
In all honesty, I’m not Frankenmom. I’m not even on the monster mom radar. I screw up. Make bad choices. Lose my cool sometimes. I have threatened the kiddo with school. I’ve also tried disciplinary things I really wish I hadn’t. However, I love my children. I would never ever cause them harm. And that’s the thing I really want my friend to understand. It’s kind of impossible to give up everything to homeschool a gifted child and land on the monster mom radar. Sure, there have been some historically monster mothers that homeschooled (the woman in Rainbow that homeschooled for religious reasons and then killed half of her children one by one because they had unclean thoughts) but we’re not in the same category as those freaks of nature. In general, my friend and I know that aluminum foil is a kitchen item and not something for keeping the government from reading our thoughts. We aren’t stocking the basement with gun powder for the apocalypse. We aren’t locking our children away from the world to avoid the corruption of demons. We have moments we’re not stellar and moments we are. We have to raise our kids using our own skills. Mine include crafting and creative problem solving. Hers include humor and patience and even more patience. I’m not really sure which skill set is better, but in my biggest moments of self-doubt, I’d say hers are.
Most of the time, though, I’m a pretty good mother. So I’m not going to compete for the Worst Mother Ever Award. And I was inspired to write this because my friend is not the Worst Mother Ever either. She’s pretty darned good, actually. Life isn’t about being the very best or the very worst. Motherhood isn’t, either. Motherhood is a learning process. We got thrown into this without a manual (and neither of us like attacking something new without instructions). Mistakes are bound to be made. How we handle them determines what we are, and it also teaches our kids how to handle flubs in their own lives. Let’s face it, perfection is for 1960s sitcom moms. I wasn’t served up in black and white or even technicolor and my day never starts with the Donna Reed Theme, ergo, no perfection here.