The only time I’ve been really 100% sure I was an excellent mother was before I had any children. Back then, I had absolutely no doubt, only supreme confidence in my innate ability to win the whole Motherhood Contest. (Because it’s a contest, right? Like a pageant only without the swimwear competition?)
On Sunday, I took my daughter to a birthday party. We are acquainted with a pretty wide circle of people in our new area and this particular woman brought her 9-year old to my daughter’s impromptu birthday dinner back in September. She returned the favor and invited us to her daughter’s party.
I dropped off my daughter, then returned an hour later. When I returned, I walked past the bouncy house and slide crowding the driveway and walked through the open front door. I found my daughter holding someone’s baby–she loves babies–and so I sat down and began chatting with another mom who was a complete stranger to me.
I began to look around and found that I was sitting in a room that was probably once a dining room but had been turned into a homeschooling room. The cursive alphabet bordered the top of the wall. Scientific terms and maps and all sorts of school-related items were tacked to the walls which appeared to be covered in some kind of fancy bulletin board material (floor to ceiling).
My daughter does school at home, you know, through a charter school. My twins are doing homeschool for their last year of high school. And I don’t have anything school-related tacked to any wall in my house. I don’t even have a bulletin board.
(I have a fancy pencil sharpener, though. And ten packs of Crayola markers.)
I sat there feeling like such a failure as a homeschooling mom. I’m just winging it as I go along. We fit school into the nooks and crannies of our days. I feel like an utter failure.
Even worse? Today, my daughter had a Costco frozen yogurt for lunch. I didn’t even realize that I hadn’t fed her an actual lunch until my husband called me from soccer practice to ask me what she had for lunch. That’s all she had. Frozen yogurt. (Please, fire me. I deserve it.)
I recently read a blog post by the most delightful adoptive mother of many who homeschools and my heart just sank when I read about her systems and her order and her attitude and her children. Why can’t I be like that? Why can’t I try to be like that? Why can’t I line my ducks up and make them swim in an orderly fashion? Am I just that lazy? That ill-equipped?
I read on Facebook about other people’s kids volunteering and applying to colleges and and I do this horrible thing that I hate . . . I compare my kids. That’s the worst thing ever.
I kind of wish I could go back to those days of dreaming about a velvety baby cheek, confident in my ability to raise SuperKids. Being a mom was a whole lot easier in my imagination. Then again, imaginary kids don’t ask for hugs or . . . money. (Wait. What?)
12 thoughts on “I’m not the mom I thought I’d be”
I cannot believe how often you hit the mark with where I’ve come from. I’m definitely not the mom I thought I’d be. I finally managed to put a bulletin board up on the wall this year, in my seventh year of homeschooling. My house is a disaster, my kids watch too much tv, and I rarely get up early. I feel guilty. I compare. And yes I compare my kids to others, too. Then I make myself stop. I could live in the guilt of needing to do better, or I can remember that my race that I’m running is different. Someone once said that I needed to remember that I have different hurdles to jump that other people. Some of us start out on the up-hill. This isn’t an excuse to just keep going on the way we are, but it is for sure a bit of grace extended for the areas we see as failure. Hoping that you can feel that grace more than you feel the failure. hugs!
I never found myself mired in the muck of comparing myself to other mothers (or my kids to other kids)…until this year. Suddenly I have a sixteen-year old daughter who will be seventeen in less than a month and I’m wondering HOW do all those other parents out there get their teenagers driving? We’ve been “working” at it for almost two years now and she still just has a permit. We’re paying three times the amount of car insurance (!) that we used to pay so that an unmotivated (but cute) girl with a permit can drive our family car once every two or three months. And don’t get me started on college applications looming just ahead, let alone college savings. How do all those other parents make it all look so easy? I can’t figure this one out.
Mel, beautiful, competent Mel – do not DARE to put yourself down. Don’t compare your insides to anyone else’s outsides.
That is, everyone only shows the good stuff. A blog post, much like a picture, shows what is framed and what the author wants to show. Outside the border of that photo, you can’t see the unfolded wash, the carpet with juice all over it, the baby who sits in a messy diaper.
No one shows the bad stuff – but, trust me, every one of us has it. We all have bad days. You are doing a GREAT job.
Hang in there. I have faith in you.
Hi Melodee. Loved this post. Had me giggling and wanting to give you a hug, and relating all at the same time. I remember thinking things like “my kids will never say no to my face” or “my kids would never behave like that in public”. I have learned to give grace to those ahead of me and *try* not to say “you just wait” to those behind me. We’re all just doing the best we can, aren’t we? The fact that you know your daughter loves babies and you went and sat with her instead of passing by to talk to other moms or quickly telling her it was time to go tells me you are a great mom 🙂 I just found your blog today and I really appreciate your honesty and transparency. I am a new follower 🙂 I’d love for you to stop by @ a dash of parsley!
You just need to come visit me! You will feel so great about yourself! And I am OK with that some days!
I love your realness and transparency. You are preaching to the choir. God gave you the gift of writing. I don’t have that or I would have a famous fabulous blog that people from all over would read.
Go enjoy your sunshine and beach. Think fondly of your NW Oregonian friend that you have never met…
Then there’s the rest of us. Yes, I have a “dedicated” school room now (half schoolroom, half “office” for me) … but only because otherwise the books in her literature-based curriculum were taking over the ENTIRE FREAKING HOUSE. It took me three (count ’em, 1, 2, 3!) months to purge the existing office to a point where it was remotely useable. I still have 4 boxes of miscellany waiting to be unloaded and put away “somewhere”. You know, all that stuff you KNOW you need to keep but doesn’t have a home, nor is likely to magically acquire one.
I also got a chance to visit a fellow homeschooling mom a few years ago. She, like me, had only a single child to homeschool, this child at the time was 5. Her ENTIRE house was this organized dedication to school… every possible object in the house had a label, usually in two languages; there were bulletin boards everywhere filled with facts; the LIVING room had a wallpaper border of the alphabet. That is what I considered the “other extreme” … and I knew that while I might not be the most organized Mom out there, I also had a life of my own before my child, and intended to have one after my child turns 18. I won’t be the one that says, 48 hours after my daughter moves out, “Wow, now what?”
Sounds to me like you’re running a perfect happy medium. Remember what we say to everyone that asks what homeschooling is like? You find what works for YOU and YOUR family, there are no two homeschoolers that will have the same experience. And that’s a strength.
(sorry, my comment turned into a post on its own!) Hugs!
Oh I feel this so much. I know you know you’re not a failure but gosh that feeling. I have it, too.
Yay, yay, yay!! So happy to read your post and know that I am NOT the only homeschool mom who fits school into the nooks and crannies of our day! YAY!!
I do the same thing as you – – compare my (lack of) methods and (lack of) organization to the methods and organization of other homeschool moms. And I fall SO woefully short. Sigh …
Thanks for the honesty. You made my day.
Grinning here. 🙂
Rachel in Idaho
One of these years in hindsight you’re going to look at the four adult children of yours and think to yourself, “They came out ok after all!” Trust me. They most likely will, tho I have no crystal ball I can look into and predict the future. But odds are, Mel, all the stuff you’re stressing about is just that…stuff. And they’ll finish growing up just fine.
Just wait, Mel. I’m finishing up writing a whole book about what a near-disaster I am at home-schooling. And while I finish my rewrites? That’s right; her education is probably suffering.
If there is anything I have learned about parenting, it is once we think we have it together something else gets thrown into the pot. Parenting is a continual process of falling to our knees and begging God for mercy. Perhaps I do that so much because I know what I put our Father through.
I’m sure Gracie will not remember that you fed her a frozen yogurt for lunch. She will remember that you ran her all over the place for sports events, took her to the pool, cuddled with her when she was scared and gave her good advice as she got older. My now 21 year old daughter tells me things that I told her when she was 4 and 5, that I don’t remember, but that blessed her greatly. It has been my oldest daughter that made me see I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. I think if we raise our children right then they grow up to understand that parents are human. And they forgive us for that.
I love your writing style and honesty. Now in the teenage years I wonder every day how badly I’ve messed them up.