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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wearing My Bad Mother Badge with Pride

Today has just been one of those days, I guess. Here’s the thing: there have always been two consistent themes in my wishes and desires for my life since early childhood.
1. I always wanted to be an awesome mom.
2. I always wanted to be an awesome writer.

Now, given that these things have spoken to me with such clarity over many, many years, you can be darn tootn’ sure that Satan knows them just as well as I do. So, today he’s dancing a little jig and I’m ready to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.

I woke up this morning worried about a deadline I had to make today that I still had no clear inspiration about what I was supposed to be doing with it. The day’s more than half over and I think I’ve written 100 out of the 750 words I need. Um, yeah. It’s not going well. This, of course, starts the famous writer snowball effect in which every writing “failure” I’ve ever had and the hopelessness of my future as a writer start doing the sugar-plum fairy thing in my head.

As sorry as that predicament is, it has nothing on my parenting skills for the day. Daughter A woke me up with a text message shortly after midnight to tell me about a problem that had just been resolved. This kept me up for another hour after the conversation ended, worrying about a text message conversation a few days prior to that with Daughter B who was worried that Daughter A was into something very nasty. What worries me is that quite honestly, true or not, there is probably very little I can do about it. I know all teenagers should wear shirts that read “Yes, I have been taught better than this,” but it still keeps me up at night worrying that I have somehow been the cause of their problems through the decisions I’ve made regarding their upbringing. It’s the bane of every mother, but it seems particularly difficult to bare today.

Btw- My daughters live with my parents during the school year which is another one of those tally marks in my bad parenting column when I let myself forget that there are real reasons outside of myself for them to be doing this. It’s easy for me to only associate this situation with other similar ones I’ve been familiar with. In each of those cases, children live with their grandparents because their parents can’t raise them. Yep, another tally mark.

Okay. Next, my autistic son asks if he can cook a frozen pizza. This is nothing new. He knows how to cook all of the foods on his small list of “acceptable” items that will actually enter his mouth. None of them are actually healthy. Another mark.

I came upstairs about 15 minutes later for something totally unrelated and heard him muttering to himself from the kitchen about never eating pizza again. Not a good sign either. The boy means it when he says things like this. I find him in the kitchen using an oven mitt to scoop up his pizza from the bottom of the oven. It took a while to get the story out of him, but he apparently burned his hand and let go of the cookie sheet that burned him, flipping the entire thing over in the oven. This I could not have prevented. What’s bugging me then? I was working on that darn article and did not hear the crash of the pan in the oven to even know there was a problem. He informs me it was rather loud. Another bad mother mark.

Now, for the finale. I was in the kitchen at 1:30 and absently moved aside my other son’s lunch box as it was in my way. Five minutes later it dawned on me that it should not be on the counter at all. My son was at school and it should be with him. That’s right. Precisely one hour after his lunch hour I realized I had totally forgotten to pack my son a lunch for school. No, he didn’t leave it on the counter by mistake. I just completely flaked on fixing one to begin with. I specifically remember him throwing on his backpack and asking if everything he needed was inside. I remember telling him yes. It just never occurred to me that he needed a lunch. Another mark.

See, here’s the thing. Because of some health problems I have been eliminating a lot of things in my life so that I specifically have the energy I need for my children and to write the things that bring me the most joy, not necessarily money. I can’t even claim that I was just too busy and pulled in too many directions. It’s simply been a bad mother badge day. Sigh.

I think I need to lower my standards. How does:

1. A mother whose children managed to grow into stable adults despite her.


2. A writer who didn’t go insane.


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