I stood in the kitchen with the canned peas and carrots and decided to involve the tiny human living with me in the dinner decisions. I called her to the kitchen. She turned the corner with her usual flare for drama and I smiled at the intensity this little one had.
“So baby girl, I have carrots and peas. Which would you like for dinner?”
She extended her overly tense right index finger and used it to tap the corner of her mouth. Internally I giggled at her process and awaited her decision.
You see I am a mother of 312 children. Well, 4 actually. Five if you count my angel baby but that is another story for another time. As a mother of multiple children I have completely lost my ability to math. Or English. Or science. Or, well, anything with the efficiency I once had as a teenager that knew it all.
I like to think that my involvement of my tiny offspring in the decision making was to empower them. I wanted to make them see that actual thought went into the every day Magic that was our life.
I got older. I sunk deeper into “mommy brain” and realized, I’m fucking tired and just want to not make every decision all the time.
So, there I stood, my daughter, her eyes darting from can to can. (Yes, only the finest for my family. It was DelMonte, shut up!)
She pursed her little lips and I knew what was coming. This was her, “Ima bout to start some shit” face. She rolled her eyes and the words
“Actually, I don’t like either”
slithered out of her mouth hit the floor, crawled up my leg all the way to my ear and wrapped tightly around my brain.
I felt the belly of that sentence hit my ear and my eye twitched a little. I prepared my rebuttal.
“ACTUALLY, you had both last week and didn’t complain at all about either one. Now choose please.”
She knows she has the upper hand. She knows she’s three and I can’t punch her in the face, ya know, cause that’s a felony.
Here my friend is the difference between my male and female children. It was amazingly different, the way these lil bastards fought. The boys were by far, more physically aggressive. The small balled up fists and the breaking things.
My daughter from birth was a master. She could reach through my chest and stop my heart between beats. She was always lethal with her words. It wasn’t until she was in her twenties that she learned to use her power for good.
So here I stand in my kitchen. It’s the Alamo, I can hear the tumbleweeds scraping across my fine linoleum floor. We are toe to toe. It’s high noon and I am waiting for her to draw. The sweat rolls down my brow, she grabs her pistol and,
“Actually in a year I am going to be a woman and none of this will even matter.”
Dafuq?! Did I mention she is fucking three!? As in… years old. She was obviously disgusted with me and my lack of ability to deal with this situation. I could see however, that she was enjoying her triumph.
What did I do you ask? How did I handle this? I contorted my face, stomped my foot, and through my teeth spat out,
“Go to your room!!”
“Because I don’t know how to parent this!!”
Where were Spock an Ferber when you really needed them?
A simple smile crept slowly across her little smug face. She knew she had broken me and she was wallowing in that knowledge like a pig in shit. She acquiesced and sashayed to her room. She was only three so it presented more like a really confident penguin waddle, but I know she was sashaying in her head like a 6’5 drag queen.
I slammed both cans on the counter and sighed.
I wandered aimlessly to the couch and grabbed the remote. I clicked on the looky box and rethought the past 30 minutes of my life.
I knew as I flipped mindlessly through bff’s having coffee and C.O.P.S. that I loved this little ball of infuriating condescension. I knew my life was better because of her. But what I didn’t know was how I was going to parent someone who seemed to outsmart me on a regular basis at the ripe old age of three.
I proceeded to panic and run through the numerous doomsday possibilities in my head. There she was, my daughter, a 17 year old stripper hopelessly addicted to heroine and bouncing from one horrible, loveless encounter to another all because I was a terrible mess of a mother.
She would blame me and end up buried under a tombstone inscribed with the words, “Here I lie, because my mom sucked.” Midway through me shopping for the appropriate black dress to wear to the funeral in my head I giggled.
I wondered if other mothers felt this way. I wondered if other parents panicked and hated every decision they made. Did we all play back every word of every sentence wondering if a misplaced consonant would be the ruin of our offspring?
I didn’t know then that the answer is a resounding, “Fuck Yes!” But I had my suspicions.
I calmed down and went to my daughters room. I peeked around the corner and my heart melted as I saw her with her toys. She was so put together. I swear, I have admired her since that moment. And in that moment I realized none of my doomsday silliness mattered.
I have always been full of anxiety and unsure of myself to the point of paralytic episodes. I would sit and beat the hell out of myself for hours, sometimes days that melded into weeks just knowing I was the worst person in the world.
But get this. Something happened when this little strange and amazing shit looked up at me. All of the bullshit melted away. Everything became perfect. A perfect set of eyes looking at me almost as if to say, “It’s ok Mommy, I got you too.”
And ya know what? She did. Still does til this day. She’s amazing, and get this. She says a big part of that is me. Me and my fucked up stumbling, terrified but always real and honest parenting. I made mistakes. Man, like, a lot. We’ll get there. But at some point I had to do things the only way I knew how. From the heart.
So I guess the moral of the story is this: If you are scared that you are going to fuck up, well, hun, the reality is, you’re going to fuck up. If you are scared that your kid is going to hate you, well they are going to hate you. But guess what. They are going to know all that stuff you think they don’t know.
They are going to know you would die for them. They are going to know that you are where the real kisses on real hurts come from. They are going to know that you are the shelter from the storms.
And yes they are going to know that they treated you like shit when they were teenagers. If you’re really lucky, they will apologize when they are in their early twenties. Like, really, really, lucky.
So here’s my goal everyone. I want you to come here and be yourself and know everyone is just as fucked up and scared as you are. Some are just to chicken shit to admit it. Let’s see what we can do when we all get together and just tell honest stories about all the crazy shit in our heads.