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?)