I am not the mother I want to be, but I know that I am not alone in thinking this.
As an example of my unmotherliness, I will explain to you what happens when my children come home from school. My eight year old says, ‘I want to watch tv – where is the remote control?’ Me: Spend 20 minutes trying to find it – I feel guilty because I probably lost it. Think to self, ‘I need to make dinner. What shall I make? Don’t know’. ‘What would you like for dinner?’ I ask my five year old, ‘Pasta with tuna,’ he says. Think to self, ‘Good plan – we have plenty of time to make that. I will go and put washing on first because I haven’t done that today.’ Go upstairs to get washing. Think to self, ‘What am I doing upstairs?’ Not sure. See three year old taking all the wipes out of the packet. ‘Why are you making a mess? Let’s go downstairs’. Take daughter downstairs and when at the bottom think to self, ‘I forgot the washing. I will go and get it.’ Go upstairs to get washing. Me to self, ‘Must make dinner.’ My son says, ‘I am hungry!!’ Me: Feeling guilty that I still haven’t started making dinner, ‘Have a yoghurt’, I say (only latterly so I realise that this will mean that he will not be hungry for dinner). Put pasta on – Not sure how much to put in saucepan so use half the packet. Put washing in the machine. Fifteen minutes later pasta is overcooked and I call children in. Elder daughter starts to put mayonnaise in tuna because she likes it with a very specific amount of mayonnaise which I don’t understand. ‘Need to clear breakfast counter,’ I think – children cannot eat from it with that much mess. My son says, ‘I will get the glasses,’ (this is his favourite job). Me to self, ‘What do I need to do now? Oh yes get – Knives AND forks and serve youngest two good on plates which will fit their meal.’ And so it goes on.
So for all of you whose meal times don’t look like this – Kol akovod (well done) – I am in awe of you (and before you suggest it – writing a list of the 25 things that need to be done when the kids get back from school does not help). You have the gift of memory, processing and strategic thinking. It turns out, I realise now, that strategic thinking is not just something that management consultants do. Almost everyone does strategic thinking as a result of processing the information around them. It helps them to be organised and make on-the-spot decisions about inconsequential things. If you can’t strategically think and your IQ is at reasonable level – life sucks.
So I am not the mother I want to be – I want to be present with my children, to feel that in–the-moment connection, I want to be a strategic thinker who understands what is best for my children and am able to prioritise their individual needs. I want to be the solid rock that they can count on to help them along their way. But right now I can’t be that person. Neurologically it is not possible.
However, as I said, I am sure I am not alone in not being the mother I want to be. There are probably millions of other mothers who are in my position but they just don’t announce it on Facebook! (a very silly thing to do!!!). So for all those who are going through a tough time – whether you are, bipolar, an alcoholic, having an acrimonious divorce or have cancer – but-really do want to be a good mother (or father), here is a list of the benefits your children can get from your imperfect situation. Your children:
- Have a much better sense that life can sometimes be hard and is not always the way they want it to be.
- Might have to fend for themselves a little bit more than other kids. If they really want something they have to go get it themselves otherwise it might not happen.
- They learn sometimes they don’t get what they ask for and that is OK
And in my case, which might not, unfortunately, apply to everyone, they also:
- Realise that if you are open about your problems other people often show kindness
Obviously if you are going through a difficult and trying time and think this list is a load of crap then I totally get it. But if you liked the list, I’m glad it helped you.
NB I made two factual errors in last week’s blog which I would like to correct.
- Firstly I said that 300 people had looked at my blog. However, due to me being confused 100% of the time I got the number wrong. Nevertheless, the data implies that most of the people I know are aware of my problems. That’s the way it should be because if I had a physical problems most of my friends would know about it.
- Sadly, FedEx are not taking my hair sample to Germany – it was too expensive. The idea of a man coming to pick up my hair in a white envelope and taking it all the way to Germany to be analysed for deficiencies in mineral and vitamins sounded very romantic but it was not to be. However, through Royal Mail tracking services, I can now inform you that my hair sample took the late night flight from Heathrow and is now somewhere in Germany awaiting to be taken to Hersbruck.
4 thoughts on “7. 18th July 2016 -Mothering whilst ill”
Jewish law is 1% what to do and 99% what to do if it all goes pear-shaped. These two categories are called lechatchila (to start with) and bdieved (after the fact). You are not alone in feeling that so much of your life is not being lived ideally and wishing, hoping and praying is was.
I believe this is something we can all relate to, it is certainly something I relate to. I know the feeling is shamayim v’aretz, chalk N cheese between starting the day the way I want to and letting circumstance dictate how my day goes. It is a life long challenge and when we’re winning it is great but when we are losing those battles it can be hard. We make comebacks, use the many opportunities in the Jewish year for kick-starts and do our best, and we should never lose the courage to be defeatest and hold our hands up, 99% of our halachic works speak to us in those moments of despair, willing us on as if to say, “I understand there’s a par between where you are and where you want to be, but don’t lose heart. I’m with you, Do the best you can now.”
Thankyou for your honesty. Life is not black and white and for those that sometimes see life through a grey lense, there’s something profoundly holy about that too. Be strong, have courage, and keep up the fight.
Thanks Adam. I appreciate that
Wise words. Every mother tries to do the best they can but some do not always get it right. The more you reflect the more you can change. I am constantly do this. I always try to find ways to overcome the challenges. If didn’t have an au pair I would probably be in a psychiatric ward because I couldn’t cope. Mainly being over tired affects your mental state. My au pair helps with the stuff I hate doing like the laundry and the constant mess after meal times and she is brilliant. You can also get help if you ask for it. Listen to your heart