Sunday, May 06, 2007

Maybe I'm not so bad

Girl's Gone Child has thrown down the gauntlet, bidding people to discuss how they are good mothers (and good fathers, too, I'm assuming). If you haven't read her post, go read it, and if you're so inclined, tell how you're a good mother.

This is a tough one for me. I am full of self-doubt. I question my sanity, my abilities, my competence on a daily basis. I constantly worry that I'm screwing up my kids somehow. That because I can be such a mess, mentally, at times, that I'm dooming my children to a bad childhood and an adulthood full of therapy.

But if I think rationally, I know that, for the most part, I am a good mother. I cook, fairly well, too. The cleaning...well, we won't go there. But the cooking bit, I love and I love to show my kids how to cook. O enjoys helping out in the kitchen and I love showing her how to make things that are more challenging that PB&J or Kraft dinner. We've made pancakes and cookies and about 87 loaves of banana bread and she's eager and willing to spend time with me. I've yet to let her slice an onion or dice a carrot but that's because I love my knife almost as much as I love my daughter and I don't want her to dull the thing hurt herself. Boo loves to cook with me but only if she gets to lick the spoon. And really, it doesn't get much better than licking the spoon, now, does it?

I dunno, mum, there's alway smearing
peanut butter all over yourself.
That's pretty fun, too.

I kick ass at taking care of a child with a chronic disease. I've done it for 9 1/2 years and I've done a great job. I log, I stay on top of site changes, I keep on top of trends and variations and I change things as needed. I take her to the endocrinologist and the ophthalmologist and the pediatrician. I print out reams of information for caregivers. Most importantly, I know who to go to when I'm stumped, where to get an answer to a problem that invariably crops up at 2 a.m. on the Saturday of a long weekend. I'm not afraid to ask for help, to admit when something has me stumped. And I'm not afraid to listen to, and implement, answers I might not want to hear.

I go to parent-teacher conferences and IEP meetings and talk to the nurse on a regular basis, making sure that O has a medically, at least, as stress-free a school experience as possible. I'm good at it. I know how to go in prepared for battle, but with a smile on my face. I never give an inch - I want what's best for her and I am prepared to fight tooth and nail for her to get it. I've found that going in with a smile works better for everyone - the staff, me and especially O.

I've helped her deal with the boatload of shit that her father has heaped on her. We've talked about it and decided, together, what to do about it. It's been difficult and there have been a lot of tears, but we're dealing with it together and each time it happens, I come away from it feeling like I really helped her. I'm really proud of the way I handle this mess - and it is a mess. I hug her while she cries and rants and raves. I let her vent, but then I bring it back to the dilemma and we talk about it. Talk about what to do, how to handle things and just generally sort it out. Sometimes I'll type out what she wants to say to her dad, so that she can have her thoughts sorted out for the next time he calls (because there's always a next time with him).
And we can actually talk. I listen to her blather on about this friend and that friend, who said what to whom and while I sometimes have to stifle my giggles (god, was I this intense at 12?), I do listen. And I tease. Just a little.

I falter more with the babies. Perhaps it's because I'm older, more self-aware, something, I don't know, but I have far more doubts with them.

Boo, though, is smart and as happy as a two and a half year-old can be. She knows almost all of her letters, she can count to 13, she can sing a bunch of songs and talks a blue streak. I can reduce her to a puddle of giggles just by tickling her under her chin. She loves to be read to and I love watching the delight on her face when we read Green Eggs & Ham, easily her favourite book. She loves to sit on the couch with me so we can watch Blue's Clues together (Steve only. The only Joe at my house is in the coffee maker.) We sing the songs and follow the clues and she loves it. She loves when we go outside to play. She loves that I let her sit in the dirt and pour it all over herself. It's only dirt. She's washable.

The Bug is a happy little thing, until bed time, but I don't think I had a hand in that problem. She's just stubborn. She grins at me and says "mamamamamama" and when I go out without her, she wriggles all over and smiles with glee when I come back thru the door. She's not very verbal yet, but going by the body language, I think I'm doing ok with her, too.

As long as you keep giving me Kix, mum, we'll be just fine.

So while I'm sure that I'll still rant and vent and complain and worry and fret and obsess over just how badly I'm fucking up these children, I think, deep down, I know I'm doing ok. At least, I hope so. Because I can't afford therapy and college tuition.


Zazzy said...

*applause* Keep reminding yourself of these things!

LJ said...

please print this out and make several copies and paste them all over. when you feel like you are faultering just look up and there you have proof that you are doing a wonderful job!
i'd love to take part, but given the circumstances of recent events lately my self-esteem has taken a bit of a blow and my confidence as a mother is well...shot.

Stomper Girl said...

Yeah. I'm pretty sure with a mother like you your kids will be better than fine. Way to go.

I think that's a great exercise to do by the way. It IS important to take stock and pat our selves on the back every so often. Because (1) we can all be our own harshest critic and (2) you can never be sure that anyone else will do it for you...

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Look at this cutie pies!

You're doing a great job. Want to know how I know? You let the older one lick the beater. That's a mark of a good mom is I ever saw one.

OhTheJoys said...

I have been reading your for a good long while now and I think you are a good mother.

Lara said...

i already knew you were a fab mother, but i'm glad to see you reminding yourself. :)

Joke said...

The only worries I have in my parenting are the potential results.


Kerri. said...

I agree with Lauraj - print this sucker out and read it when you're feeling like a crumb. You are a fantastic mom and your happy children are a testament to that. :)

That, and you're a hardcore Sox fan. In my book, that makes you 2 for 2.

Anonymous said...

Make 'em pay for their own therapy. After you put 'em through college, they ought to be able to afford it somehow!

And "ditto" to what everybody else said.

Vivian said...

Julia, I loooved this post. You are a great mom and you are raising daughters who will be amazing people. Even with all the things you feel you do wrong, they will be great because they see you just being you. They learn way more from watching than from listening. What they see is a mom who loves them and is there through the crap stuff and shows them how to be strong and stand up for what they believe in, how to love books and words, how to appreciate all that their senses will allow, how to be themselves. You rock mom, keep up the good work. =)

Jamie said...

I agree - you need to print this off and hang copies of it all over your house to remind you, on the "bad days" that you REALLY are doing a good job :)

Great post :)

Beck said...

You sound like a terrific mom.
ALl that peanut butter must have been hard to get off. Yikes! I have a similar photo, but the kid in it was covered in HONEY. That took forever to wash off.

Mamma Sarah said...

Standing O :-) You are doing a great job. I love the PB picture. :-D

Nicole P said...

You know I think you're doing a great job. :)