Other Moms

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I suspect that other moms out there generally get through the day unscathed. They probably even look good while doing it. Or at least have showered. And I suspect that these other moms are doing useful, creative, scholarly things during the day like getting their PhD and keeping up a kick-ass blog (Hi Carla!), working full time, organizing a house, and getting a high score in Bejeweled (Hi Laura!), doing crafts with their kids (Hi Kelly F.!), or sewing matching dresses for their daughter and a friend (Hi Niki!). Me? Not so much. I more of a curl-up-into-a-ball-and-weep kind of mom. I often don’t even get through the day unscathed. Like yesterday . . .

Besides accidentally leaving Zoey in the car and forgetting to buy milk at the store I really thought I was doing Ok. Demetri came home. Zoey gave him her huge welcome home smile. We went to pick up the farm share basket — full of corn and blueberries and yellow squash. We began to fix dinner, all of us together in the kitchen. Zoey was playing with tupperware on the floor, I was peeling garlic, Demetri was shucking corn.

I was Ok. Until I wasn’t. Demetri took too long to answer a question. Zoey accidentaly scratched my leg. The cat was underfoot. Then — then everything was bad and wrong. I had no patience left, for even the smallest thing. I couldn’t be in the kitchen anymore. Demetri wasn’t slicing onions in the right way. He wasn’t talking enough, or answering fast enough. I was a bad mom. A bad pet owner. A below average writer. A terrible wife. And the worst part was I couldn’t even hold my badness inside. I became mean.

We ate dinner in mostly silence. Except for things directed at Zoey: Do you want more chicken? Do you like the corn? Don’t tease the dog. Zoey’s responses of Ahhhhh! Blahda! Ooooh! made us almost smile. She kept looking at me with worry.

After dinner I lay on the couch, a sniveling mess. I listened to my husband load the dishwasher. The clink of dishes, of silverware made me think of when I was little. Already storied and tucked in bed but still awake trying to listen for the comfort sounds of my parents moving about the house. Demetri took Zoey and the dog for a walk. I stayed on the couch watching dusk settle, watching the tree outside our window deepen from green to grey. My family came back. The dog panting, jingling his collar. Zoey making her soft sounds — the crinkle of the diaper as she walks, her tiny shoed-feet on the hard-wood floor. Demetri quiet, his warm summer scent seeping back into the house.

I stayed on the couch for the bedtime routine – diaper, pajamas, milk, stories, songs. ‘Tis a gift to be simple, ‘Tis a gift to be free, ‘Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be. I thought of other moms out there who can do what I sometimes can’t — make it through the day. I thought of social work school where I had the same feelings. How are people doing this? Seeing the worst of things, the most hopeless? How are they still whole? I thought of the professor who, saving me, said, Your empathy weighs heavily on you. He some how made that OK. Made me OK. But last night I was left wondering if motherhood is ever something one gets good at, feels competent at. There are good days, yes. But there are also days that break me. Some for good reason. And some, like yesterday, just because they can.


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9 thoughts on “Other Moms

  1. Lauren

    >Joslyne, I often have that nightmare where it's the end of the semester and I realize that I haven't gone to class AT ALL and exams are tomorrow. I still have that nightmare sometimes, and I've been out of school for 13 years. I think it's the feeling that everyone else knows what's going on and is doing it better than yourself. You are sooooo not alone. And I have THREE kids (how scary is that!), one with Tourettes. Hang in there. There is no manual. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Laura

    >Oh I so often get in the place you are at. I often feel my patience is wisked away with the wind, as my kids pull more stuff out of boxes, argue with each other, and bascially ignore me. I lose it too quickly, barking at them to stop. It's something to just keep working on. I'm there with ya.

    Reply
  3. Ron

    >I'm not a mom (although I play one on television :), but I am a parent and know from my own experience, that any (and I mean any) parent who raises children, works, and takes care of daily life first hand, does not "look good" at the end od the day. Especially with a toddler…if you look good at the end of the day…you cut corners.Hang in ther mom!

    Reply
  4. Niki

    >Hang in there! You're so much stronger than you give yourself credit for. And you are most certainly entitled to sob a little at the end of the day! I think you must also be going through chocolate withdrawal…

    Reply
  5. adjustmentdisorder

    >Oh, Jos. I totally know how it feels to look at other moms and feel like they are so much more on top of things than we are. On Monday I actually told Frieda to shut the fuck up. I couldn't believe it after I said it, and I was horrified, but I'm sure it won't be the last time. (I really have to find a way to verbally express my frustration in a more appropriate manner by the time she understands…) Monday was a terrible day, and I'll be blogging about it as soon as I can process it. The point is, we all have those days, and you're not alone. Hopefully tomorrow will be better!

    Reply
  6. Jennifer

    >My secret fear is that someone is going to realise that I am just a big fake, that my daughter is growing up to be who she is purely out of luck and that I am in fact a disaster of a parent/wife/employee/friend (it applies to all areas in life!). It's only because this is the most important thing we will ever do that we worry so much. I'm often reminded that the fact that we worry about whether we are doing it right means we are doing it right.

    Reply
  7. Renee

    >Jos – just discovered your blog through facebook and it is WONDERFUL! I can so relate, but if only I could express all these feelings so well (or, well, at all).

    Reply
  8. amy lyles wilson

    >You should meet my friend. She's way cool, from Up East, high-lariously funny, serves others in her professional life, and is a fabulous (also honest and realistic) mother–anyone can see it. She recently ran a marathon, and she manages to write these killer pieces about her life that make readers crack up and shed a few. Oh wait….that's you!

    Reply

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