single mom

Mommy Fear

Earlier this week, I had a big heart-to-heart with F.

It went something like he was eating a bag of pretzels and staring at me while I poured my heart out to him and essentially apologized for being a sub-par Mommy these past few weeks. (I’d get into the whole past, um, his entire toddlerdom but we’d still be in that conversation and I’d feel even worse and he’d have fallen asleep on me anyway.) Whether he understood it or not, we had a hug and a kiss and exchanged a couple of I love yous before he went back to whatever he’d been doing and I stayed exactly where I was just watching him.

I’d always imagined that Mommy was something that just came to you.

The first day of the hardest job I’ve ever had.

I was wrong. Being Mommy is as much a learning experience as anything else I’ve ever done in my life, if not more. It’s a combination of skills, understanding and a relationship to boot. It requires cultivation, and you are bound to make a million mistakes along the way. I know I have. I made at least one hundred in the past month. I love F, but being a Mom hasn’t always been easy for me. Sometimes, I fear that I’m doing it all wrong. I don’t want to screw him up.

My impatience combined with my anxiety and Type-A personality made for a tough couple of weeks while F and I were settling into the changes that had happened in our lives. In an effort to do what I thought was best for him, I sent us both reeling backwards – hurt and sad and afraid. I found myself raising my voice and losing my temper when he did that thing toddles do sometimes, defy me. I found myself getting angry and frustrated when I should have been asking him what was wrong. I argued back, instead of explaining why my decision was final.

And even knowing I’ve done it, I can assure you I will do it again.

In frustration or anger, in tiredness or a rush, my patience and my better judgment will escape me and I’ll be that sub-par Mom again – if only for a few moments. Friday morning alone was a test. An hour of trying to wake F up meant we were a whole hour late for his daycare drop off. It meant cutting the things I had hoped to do out of the picture in spite of the mile-long list of things needing doing before 5pm today. It meant that F had a less than awesome breakfast, which he ate in the car, and that I went for a run on an empty stomach and to work with undone hair. We got home with a week behind us, but with no energy left. I snuggled up next to him in bed last night at 8:30 pm, and we didn’t get up until after 9am.

For every stressful time, there’s a moment like this to wash it away.

Today, I vowed I’d be a good Mom. I made homemade buttermilk pancakes and didn’t freak out over the toys all over the floor. I made it until about noon before I found my patience beginning to disappear. By the time we’d finished running our Saturday afternoon errands, I was frazzled to the ends of the earth and had the frizzy hair to show for it. Protip: AVOID BAYER’S LAKE ON SATURDAYS. Don’t even ask, just listen (see what I did there – momism).

Today was a day when I sat in the driver’s seat of my car with that sinking feeling that I’m doing it all wrong, until I glanced in my rear view mirror. Smiling at me, F patted his new (big boy booster seat style) car seat and said “Thank-you for buying me this car seat, Mommy”.

Maybe I’m not doing it all wrong.

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