Thursday, July 28, 2011

on momFAIL

So I messed up today.

I'm supposed to take my daughter to a very expensive and very important lesson twice a week.

And today, I completely forgot.

And why did I forget?

Because I'm on page 48 of another creepy YA book and can barely function while I'm writing. Because I haven't gotten more than 6 hours of sleep in a week and perform notoriously poorly on 6 hours of sleep. Because I spend approximately 12 hours a day alone with a two-year old and a four-year old, which is clinically proven to make someone insane. Because my toddler was taking a rare and much-needed nap after collapsing in on himself like a black hole by the fridge because I wouldn't let him lick an ossified strawberry he found on the kitchen floor.

All that.

But you know what?

None of that matters. Not a bit.

I messed up.

And I feel horrible about it.

There's this trope in movies and books about the busy, self-involved parent who accidentally forgets to pick up their kid at the soccer game, and the kid is abandoned, alone, in the rainy dark, feverishly clutching a trophy and feeling unloved.

Our sympathy is supposed to rest solely with the kid.

And the thing is, we all had that moment as kids. When you look into the audience, and they're not there. Or you wait anxiously for that ride to the mall that never arrives. When you spend a sick day shivering under someone's desk with the flu because they can't take the day off.

That's life. It's just part of growing up.

But nobody ever tells you how hard it is to be the parent that messed up.

Now I'm on the other end of the stick.

I fail my kids all the time, in a hundred different ways.

"In a minute" becomes "later" becomes "this afternoon" becomes "tomorrow."

The zoo trip becomes a pet store visit becomes driving by the goats and waving.

That camp I promised to sign her up for was full, and I couldn't find another, and then I missed the deadline for the next one, and now I can't even find a pair of roller skates to buy.

Or, like today, when I just flat out messed up. Even if my daughter didn't notice that she missed her class, I've spent the afternoon plagued with guilt.

And what am I doing to make up for it? Am I reading a fourth book or making muffins or playing My Little Ponies?


I'm in my studio, trying to make myself feel better by unloading my feelings on a freaking blog.

This is the crux of parenting for me.

I want to give my children everything, but if I give them everything, there's nothing left for me, and then I can't give them anything because I'm an empty bag of nerves and yelling. I have to think ahead, keep a calendar, get reminders, stay on top of things. And sometimes, I just flat out suck at doing all of those things that mothers are supposed to do-- hence that ossified strawberry under the fridge.

Everyone tells you to balance your life as a woman and a mother, but they don't generally tell you how f'ing hard it is.

So I want to apologize ahead of time to my children.

Guys, I'm going to mess up a lot.

But I'm going to hug you and apologize afterward, and be honest with you about my feelings.

One day, I think you'll understand.

Now, let's go bake some muffins.

They're probably going to suck. Because guess what? I also suck at baking.

But by God, we're going to bake the hell out of 'em.



Kate Hart said...

I cannot tell you how much I love this post.

delilah, the unruly helpmeet said...

Thanks, Kate! Glad to know I'm not alone. =)

Sunny Rising Leather said...

As a future parent, I loved reading this.

It's so true, every word.


Ericka said...

Oh come on, on the scale of momFAIL misses a lesson is like a 2. You are being too hard on yourself this time. The time my mom told my sister to bite the cat back when it bit her, that was a serious distracted momFAIL, yours didn't even draw blood.

Tanya said...

I agree; mom*FAIL* is way too strong. It should be "Being Human: You're doin it right".

delilah, the unruly helpmeet said...

Ah, but the point isn't that I messed up one little thing. The point is that I mess up dozens of things every day, and that everyone does, and we can't help it, and that our kids won't understand until they have kids.

I mean... I promise I'm not hanging myself from a jump rope over here. I'm just starting to realize that no matter how hard you try, nothing is ever perfect. It's a tough lesson for an A student.

Hence that post a while back about revisions...

stephanie constantin said...

I needed to read that today! Mind if I post a part on FB?

delilah, the unruly helpmeet said...

Anything I post here, I'm happy and grateful to have resposted on FB, Stephanie! Thanks!

urfaqhesse said...

you have some very lucky kids :)
also, the word verification is "monest"
like mom honest
hee :)

Virginia Valerie said...

:-) I like you.

dk said...

Reposted to FB. Right now, I'm a "weekly commuter Dad," in that I leave my family behind for the work week, drive 90 miles, and then come home on Friday night to be with them for about 48 hours. EVERY weekday is dadFAIL for me (hubbyFAIL, too). In that we're all moving up to the work town when we finally sell our house, its a good thing, and a positive sacrifice. In the practical day-to-day, FAIL. :S Thank you so much for sharing. Like you say, "glad to know I'm not alone."
Speaking of, time to go home for the weekend! Squeeeee!

K A B L O O E Y said...

I have my sick daughter next to me playing on my iphone while I cruise around on my reader. I'm giving her half-assed answers and doing a bad job right now and she's old enough to know it. We all do it, but I agree that if I don't give myself time, I would be crazed.

jarvenpa said...

My mostly loving and strong mom yelled at me when I was around 9 or 10 (she was then in the throes of as yet to be diagnosed cancer that had spread to her brain, she was about 29 years old)..."If it weren't for you kids I could have been an artist!"
And she might have yelled that more than once. I swore, when I had kids, I would not do that to them (my response, by the way, was a bratty "i never asked to be born").

So I didn't. I did a lot of other things, however, and I certainly delayed having children till I was 30. But there were many, many times in which "Be still, do not bother me, I'm writing" was the command. And yeah, I had (and continue to have, given that my 22 year old has Down Syndrome and is on the autism spectrum, some sort of alternative rainbow, and will live with me through our mutual lives)...many times of momfail. Many.

You know what my mom told me before she died (she fought that cancer and others and lived to be 71)? "You know, only you...only you can write your poetry. Always remember you are a poet. Other people could raise your children, no one can write your poems."

I was shocked, and I was thrilled, and I treasure those words. (though no, I didn't give away my treasured kids).

Thrilled to hear another YA is in progress.