Before I ever became a mother, I imagined motherhood as a showcase for my lovely qualities and impressive skills.
I’d sew my children outfits and teach them to bake bread from scratch and never, ever, ever lose my temper. My children would smile at me in admiration and dream about growing up to be exactly like me because I would be a paragon of virtue.
I’d wear a white apron with eyelet edges and sing hymns while I paid bills and scrubbed toilets. My children would raise their voices in harmony and do chores without being asked. We’d dress in matching clothes and spend our evenings reading Bible stories and piecing together 10,000 piece puzzles depicting vegetable gardens almost as luscious as the organic one we’d grow in our own back yard.
As it turns out, children are less like accessories and more like chainsaws.
They cut away the facade I’d created and imagined. How rude.
Children have a way of provoking you in a way other people wouldn’t dream of doing. (Perhaps it’s only my own particular children.) When I am terse with them, they feel free to reciprocate. When I am exasperated, they see an opportunity to push harder. When my head is exploding from the noise, they accelerate, crescendo and slam a drawer and then wonder why I am screaming.
If I were childless, I like to think I’d maintain a calm, unruffled existence. I’d never be shrill with strangers or co-workers or the lady that rings up my groceries at the store. I wouldn’t be so aware of my shortcomings, the areas my children have brought into clear focus, the ones that they emphasize and judge. I’d think I was pretty awesome.
As I become more aware of my failings, I alternate between despair and resolving to be better, to do better, to improve. I am the reluctant host to humility. I might never have welcomed humility into my heart, but I have no choice when I come face to face with the reality of who I am.
The children ripped down the curtain hiding the real me and what can I do but acknowledge that this frail me is the real me? I am flawed, no matter how politely I can behave in public.
Newsflash: I’m not that great.
I can only hope that as my children get older, they will see a more complete picture of me as a person. They will grant me grace and forgiveness and understanding. I hope I will remember to extend that same courtesy to everyone I meet. No matter how annoying they are.
5 thoughts on “You can run, but you cannot hide if you have kids”
I think if you were like that mother you described in the first paragraphs of your post, most people would run away from you in fright. I sure would. 🙂 Or wonder how much Valium you were taking.
Otherwise, the mother you are? Normal, flawed, human. Like the rest of us.
Exactly what Ginny said. 🙂 And I am, again, constantly amazed by how we think alike.
After I had my two kids, someone asked me if we would have a third. My response was “I’m not the mother I thought I’d be, so no.” Looking back on that makes me so sad. I was (and am) so hard on myself. And yet, I get compliments on my kids; they are decent human beings who learn from their mistakes and love God. Maybe I haven’t done so badly after all.
I still kinda dream of being that mother, but take comfort in relating with others that are just like me even though I forget they are.
I LOVE IT!!! I think you are pretty great though 😉 They sure do have a way of turning you into someone totally different than you thought you were though, don’t they? I figure children strip away all the pretense, and reveal us at our most raw state, rather than allowing us to hide behind all the polite facades we show to everyone else in the world. There’s some days I would love nothing more than to check myself in for a 72-hour observation (vacation??) at the local mental hospital. But hey, at the end of the day, it’s all worth it.
They definitely cut through the facade… but from my experience it’s a slow and inexorable wearing, like how the Colorado cut through the countryside and scoured out the Grand Canyon. It may not always be intense, but it is unending and thorough.