Wednesday, May 12, 2010

the bad mother

Not every day – but often – making breakfast for the kids feels like the biggest chore.

I think it's because the coffee hasn't made it from bloodstream to brain yet. That, and I usually feel interrupted when the kids wake up – yanked out of my personal quiet space and bombarded by the demands of the day.

I want oats! I want cereal! You didn't get my milk! Can I mix the Ovaltine! Can I type the microwave numbers!

Like many children, these kids have one volume: ON. And they're ON from the moment their eyes snap open. [I love them dearly, you know, but oh the noise, noise, NOISE, NOISE!]

So Mother's Day started out just right with me still in bed and John graciously tending to the early-morning circus.

It was the beginning of a lovely day, one that I had been looking forward to for quite awhile – a "day off" with few expectations and the promise of a couple hours out of the house indulging in pedicures and chocolate with my sister.

John washed the dishes and cleaned up the dog poop in the yard and took the kids to Home Depot with him. I attended yoga class and enjoyed a quiet shower – no crying baby in the exersaucer just outside the shower door, no tattling children barging in, expressions muted by the beveled glass between us, protests amplified in the echo-prone space.


Later, with my sister and her family on the way, I changed from knee-holed jeans into a skirt. I walked from the bedroom to the bathroom to put on a little makeup [a rare event, indeed]. Ruthie watched me from the middle of my bed, playing with some non-toy that seemed to occupy her moving parts.

[You must see where this is going.]

Then – a THUMP and a cry.

Ruthie had rolled off the bed.

In the instant I ran to scoop her up and check her for blood or brokenness, my mind raced.

Oh, bad mother bad mother look what you did! Please be okay little one.

But at the same time as my mama-instincts chastised my inattention and worried over my sweet baby, the true bad mother within shouted angrily, selfishly.

Ugh. This better not mean I have to miss my afternoon out. I better not be running to the ER with this kid when I'm supposed to be having my feet rubbed. Ugh. Damnit. You better be okay, baby.

After a moment of nursing, Ruthie seemed to forget all about the red mark blooming on her cheek. Her eyes were alert and her tears were abated. She was fine.

But you know what? I'm really not ashamed of that bad mother within me. She's the one that says In a minute to the crying baby and hungry kids while she finishes a blog post. She's the one that covers her ears during a tantrum. She's the one that throws tantrums sometimes herself. She's the one that reads books while pushing kids on swings and absently says uh huh to all their questions. She's the one that won't let the kids play games on the iPod right now because she wants to check her email.

She's not really bad. Just interested in self preservation. She is the champion of my sanity. She fights to keep me separate and whole.

I kind of like her.

And her toenails are painted red.