When I first became a mother, I had no idea what I was doing. Literally, no idea. I know I tend to wax hyperbolic, but I am not exaggerating when I say I was completely in the dark when it came to children. I’d never changed a diaper, I’d never given a baby a bottle (or breastfed, I’m not that chick from “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” for god’s sake [spoiler alert!]), I’d babysat only when necessary (read: when I was desperate/broke beyond imagination) and generally had no idea how to keep myself alive, let alone a tiny, helpless, fragile human being.
Now that I’ve had seven and a half years of practice… years of diaper changing, years filled with nursing, love, encouragement, inspiration… I find myself STILL not knowing what the fuck I’m doing. And the worst part is, I’ll have no real idea how I did overall for another 10-15 years. It’s all a guessing game at this point.
Sometimes I find myself getting cocky, and deluding myself into thinking that I am A Great Mom. My ego gets stroked with every social media like, or comment about how cool my kids are, how happy they seem, how rad it is that I put sprinkles on their yogurt or that they’re reading certain books, liking certain music, or saying ridiculous things. I get lulled into a false sense of security. Then I get punched in the face by Shrieking Clinginess. Or slapped by the furious palm of Talking Back. Or kicked in the babymaker by the foot of Assholishness and Angst. (Those bastards wear steel-toed boots.)
These periods of horrendous behavior are normal, I get it. Kids go through more phases than the moon, and sometimes in a shorter amount of time than your average lunar cycle. But there’s straight up cognitive dissonance going on in my brain. Yes, these phases are normal! Kids test boundaries! They push limits! It’s how they start to self-actualize and grow up and become functioning human beings! But also: You are a worthless parent! Your kid screamed “SON OF A BITCH!” at the bus stop and scandalized some kindergarteners! You can’t even get your child to brush their teeth without a complete emotional breakdown (them) or complete psychological breakdown (you)! Why is there a post-it note in your kid’s binder that says “I WILL NOT SCREAM IN PEOPLE’S FACES” or “REMEMBER: KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF” or an email from his teacher asking to meet up because M is being disruptive in class? (Fun fact about that one: when asked why he was being disruptive, his reply was, “I want to be voted ‘Class Clown’ in the yearbook!'” …Goals. He haz them.)
Now, I’d like to be very clear that this post is not an attempt to fish for compliments. I know that overall, I am A Good Mom. But the reality of parenting is that sometimes, even if your kids are well fed, warm, happy, healthy, overall well adjusted people… you can still feel like a monumental failure. Maybe it’s nature’s way of keeping your ego in check, or just keeping you on your toes. Who the hell knows. What I do know is I have a lifetime of choices, and doubt ahead of me.
And many phases yet to come.