The Mother I Thought I’d be Versus The Mother I am

I always knew I’d have children.  That was just something in the cards for me.  I never thought I’d have 3… but that’s for another blog.  I remember being a teenager and talking with a friend about where we saw ourselves at 35… I said, point-blank, married with kids.  And she said she was never having kids because she’d never be able to be “the mother she wanted to be”.   At the time I thought her words were so bizarre, so strange.  How could she know the future?  You are the person who decides how you will act, what moral compass you will follow.  You dictate your future.  At 15 I was really into that whole dogma.

Now, looking back on that conversation, I’m shocked at the words of wisdom provided to me by a person who was so young.  She was TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY right on.  I am nothing like the mother I thought I would be.  That doesn’t mean that I’m not a good mom, although I do have my moments of total insanity.  But I’m not “that mom”.  That imaginary figment could never fly around here.

Mother I Thought I’d be…

My children will always be able talk to me, about anything, and I won’t judge them.

Mother I Am…

They talk to me, about anything, and I judge the ever-loving shit outta them.  I judge them so hard I’m Judge Judy.  I don’t always hand down a sentence but believe me, I judge.  And they aren’t even teenagers yet. Oy.

Mother I Thought I’d be…

My kids will always be able to pick the radio station in the car.

Mother I Am…

Fuck that.  After hearing Timber a million times I’m picking the radio station.  “When you have a car you can listen to what you want.”  {Did I just say that? My mother used to say that}

Mother I Thought I’d be…

I will actively play with my kids all the time.

Mother I am…

I can’t believe I even thought this was possible when I was younger.  Like, I actually resented my mother at times because I didn’t think she played with me enough.  And she played with me a lot!  Between the housework, the siblings, the drop-offs and the pick-ups, I’m lucky if I get to eat a meal sitting down.  Play with you?  Another game of Candy Land?  We’ve already played 5.  You must be joking.

Mother I Thought I’d be…

My children will travel.  We will see the world together.

Mother I am…

Traveling costs money.  Traveling with small children is a mind numbing siege that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.  The last trip we took was a 2 hour car trip to a soccer tournament and I actually considered putting duct tape over the mouths of the older 2.  Travel?  I don’t fucking think so.

Mother I thought I’d be…

Each of my children will have their own personality, and I won’t let their behavior, good or bad, change how I feel about myself.

Mother I am…

Wrong, wrong, wrong.  When they accomplish something fantastic… I too, feel fantastic.  When they act like animals… I see that as a direct reflection of my parenting failures.  Just because I feel this way doesn’t make it right.   But it’s still how I feel.

No, I’m not the mother I thought I’d be.  Far from it.  I have cobwebs in my house, I’m not hip, I’m embarrassing, and I’m not always fair.  But I am here for them… 24/7, no matter what.

And I’m laughing.

And I’m trying.

 

 

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The Books

 

This morning the baby and I had to go to our local Barnes and Noble (something I don’t do nearly often enough) to get a birthday gift for my nephew. As I walked into the large building I was transported back to my childhood summers. Spent with a weekly trip to the local library because I loved to read and my parents wanted to instill the love of reading in us. Each summer they threw down the gauntlet and issued us a challenge… read 10 books over the summer and write a report on each and they would reward us with a trip to Great Adventure.

In today’s society this might not seem like a huge deal. Summer vacations are the norm now, which can sometimes cheapen the actual monstrosity that planning and executing a vacation is to parents. But for me, in my childhood, summer was spent at the beach or camp and a vacation (especially to an amusement park) was a major deal. I’m thinking that along with the Minecraft book he wants, maybe I’ll also get my little brother’s son his first Harry Potter book for his birthday. A reading-right-of-passage for sure.

As I’m standing in this bookstore I could feel that feeling…  exactly the same way as when I was a kid. All of the stories that live inside these pages, all of them at my fingertips, the choices… it’s one of the most exciting adventures you could go on. The written word is indeed powerful and storytelling is an art. The fact that someone can paint a picture with their words and allow you to step into the world they created is the ultimate fantasy. I think we all need a bit of fantasy in our lives. It helps to keep up with all the mundane bullshit. We all have things we “have” to do… a small escape can be the difference between enjoying the ride or dreading the journey.

I love technology. I love the practicality it brings to my already cluttered life. But I will never love an e-reader the way I love holding an actual book in my hands. Just feeling the pages in my fingers and the weight of its spine… No Nook could ever replace an actual book to me.

This makes me think about the summer I was 12 years old and my Mother introduced me to the Thorn Birds. I was a confused tween who felt like every adult (especially my parents) had it in for me. Reading that book, knowing how much my Mother had enjoyed it too, felt like I had been indoctrinated into a secret society. One where we had something in common other than our DNA. It was a marvelous feeling that makes me always appreciate when my Mother points me in the direction of what she thinks is a good read. I must hand it to her, she has never given me a bad book. Wurhering Heights, Anne of Green Gables, Beach Music. Mama’s got skills that rival the New York Times Bestseller list.

While all the promise of the bookstore is laying right in front of me along with the joy when I realize I actually have time to browse, I am brought back to the real world from my amazing trip down memory lane by a 19-year-old kid with dyed, jet black hair, skinny jeans and boots on in the middle of Florida summer…

“Hello… {while shaking his head}”

Um, yeah Hi. {I smile, what does this kid want?}

“Could you move your stroller? {Then mutters under his breath} Didn’t you hear me the first time?”

Oh, I’m sorry, I must have been somewhere else…

As I move my stroller out of his way he reaches over to grab a skull and crossbones patterned case for his Nook and walks off saying to his friend… “I swear, these Moms act like they own the place. Let’s go get a latte.”

Back to reality.

I doubt he knows where to find the Harry Potter.