Thursday, February 02, 2006

That Thing I Don't Say Anymore

I have this thing that I say a lot.

And when I say it, I really, really mean it. I do.

But it always makes my husband sigh and it drives Patrick totally bat shit crazy.

I blogged about it once. Probably more than once. It sounds like I was maybe kidding at the time.

I wasn't.

I've decided not to say that thing anymore. But I'm going to type it here one more time for all the world (or all of you at least) to see and judge.

I am the worst mother ever.

Whenever I say it to Patrick, he'll start lecturing me about what a really bad mother is. And I hear him. I do. But I'm not exactly measuring myself against the kind of mother who would beat, starve, and neglect her children. Because they're not mothers at all.

I'm measuring myself against the average, everyday mother who cares enough not to feed her kids junk food, or send them to school when they're sick, or yell at them, or let them develop the same hang ups she has.

And using that measuring stick, well, I fail. A lot.

But I don't know. Something broke through with me recently.

I spent last weekend at a violin workshop. No. I don't play the violin. This was a workshop presented by a violin teacher who wrote a book on how parents can better practice with their children.

It turns out that the author also has a degree in child psychology.

I was dreading spending my weekend in a classroom, but it was totally worth it.

One of the things that he quoted in his speech was that kids don't need perfect parents, or even great parents. "They need ordinarily devoted parents."

His point was that the trade-off between ordinary and trying to be perfect is that we spend so much energy on guilt and stress in the strive for perfection that we negate the good we're trying to do. We corrupt the relationship.

Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding.

I've heard it before, but it never quite hit home so hard. Maybe it is because right before I went to the workshop, Patrick totally lost patience with me and read me the riot act about the perceptions and expectations I have for myself as a parent.

You know what? My being a perfectionist isn't helping my kids one tiny bit.

Since my "light dawns on Marble Head" moment, I've had an exceptionally crappy week.

But I'm trying to remind myself, that I'm here. No matter what. No matter how much I screw up, I'm here. I'm devoted to my children. Enough to sacrifice a huge chunk of my life to them. In fact, to me, it doesn't even feel like a sacrifice. It just feels like what I was meant to do. And it is what makes me happy.

And there is no substitute for me. I am their mother. No matter what. Even my ordinary devotion is more important to their well-being than the extraordinary love of everyone else in their lives combined.

Hell. Add their wonderful father to the mix and they are two very lucky kids.

And I'm not going to say that thing anymore. Even if I think it. Because even in my worse moments I know that no one else can do what I do for my kids.

No one.

No comments: