/> Raising Angels: Confessions of a Bad Mother (who tries to be good)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Confessions of a Bad Mother (who tries to be good)

Remember me telling you that my boys were going to my brother's place in Florida for a bit more than a week? Well, the only down side to that arrangement is that I had to drive down and pick them back up. It was a chance to take Max along so he felt like he got some good uncle/Florida time.

Here's the thing though. I didn't want to make that trip. It's a long drive. But really, if I'm being totally honest, I wasn't ready for the boys.

Sigh. I hesitate to write this out of fear of what you might think of me. I hesitate that one day when the boys are older, they'll read this and feel bad about my sentiments. I hesitate because it scares me. I didn't miss them. And as that thought crossed my mind I wondered how much time it would take before I did.

Now before you think I've gone all Mommy Dearest, there are a few things you should know. The boys were with my brother....in Florida...having the time of their lives. I was at home. Somehow this helped me not to miss them like I do when I'm out of town. I wasn't feeling guilty that I was doing something fun while they were just hanging out. They were living it up at amusement parks, baseball games, water parks and lots and lots of restaurants. They also called daily to fill me in on their activities.

The other part of this equation was that for a whole week I had only Max at home. Mackenzie was at camp while the boys were in Florida. And Max, especially without the egging on and constant agitation of older sibs, is a piece of cake. My house stayed clean. My husband took us out to eat quite a few times. I even read a book...a whole book...in a week....just for fun. I was totally at peace.

On top of that is that fact that, wait for it - raising kids is hard work, VERY hard. This is not news to any parent anywhere (if it is, please call me and tell me how you do it). I know this. I knew it when I decided to have them that it wasn't going to be easy, only I didn't know just how uneasy it would be.

We're in a particularly tough season of raising kids right now. The kind where we talk about the kids all the time and how we are doing raising them. We talk about how to train them without killing them in the process. We wonder if we're too tough, or too easy. We wonder if we're doing it right. We wonder if they'll turn out okay in spite of us.

Sometimes, we throw our hands in the air and want to give up, give in, and be done with it because it's hard, Hard, HARD. This had been a long, hard season and our kids are still young so we don't see it letting up any time soon.

Somehow, not having to do much parenting for an entire week opened my eyes to how hard it is. I was acutely aware of how much easier life was without the constant reminding, disciplining and frustration that comes along with having them around.

I needed a break. They needed a break.

The reentry has been tough. It started when I met them at the restaurant that first evening. They ran out of the car to greet me. I ran outside to hug them and hold them and admire how much they seemed to have changed in that short time. After hearing about all their adventures, we finally got our food and that's when it began. "Eat over your plate." "Please close your mouth when you're chewing." "You don't have to talk so loudly. I'm right here." "Please sit down." "Use your napkin." "Don't talk with your mouth open." "Say, 'Excuse me.'"

You get the picture. Life is like that right now. Every day. All the time.

I've been thinking about this a lot since we got home Sunday. Really, I've been examining myself more than the kids. Am I a bad mother for enjoying some space? Am I a bad mother for not missing the kids too much? Am I a bad mother because diving back into parenting has been, ahem, an adjustment?

The honest to goodness truth is that I haven't been able to answer any of those questions. There's no doubt I love them, all of them, whether they're being obedient or not. I love them when they use their manners and when they act like they've been raised by wild animals. I love them when they are sweet to each other and I love them when they irritate the fool out of each other. This much I know. I do love them.

The more thought I put into it, the more grateful I am for the process we’re going through; because, the truth is that even though we're concentrating on raising them, they are helping us to grow. Without them, I fear I would be a self-centered person with little capacity to love. I would be less patient, although, honestly I don't think that's possible. I would be less compassionate, less understanding and less fun. I know that because of them, I will be a better person.

In the end I have faith. Faith that I can do this because God trusted me with them. Faith that they will grow and mature into wonderful adults who have the capabilities to go out and change the world. Faith that God won't give me one more thing than I can handle (even though He apparently has much more faith in me than I do).

So what does all of this mean? It means I'm human. I'm weak. I like things to be easy. I like to have things my way. Having children allows for none of this and it hurts....sometimes. Most of the time, it's wonderful and all the world seems right and I can't imagine my world any other way.

For some reason today I have had the chorus to Kelly Clarkson's song "What Doesn't Kill You" playing in my head:

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone
What doesn't kill you makes a fighter

Of course, I know this sentiment is also somewhat scriptural but it's the catchy tune that gets me singing. I will be stronger. I will stand taller. I will be a fighter because being a good mother isn't about the easy road, it's about doing my job and no one said it would be easy.


Blogger Mom Nages said...

Oh my Amy, where to start? Excellent post that really hit home with me. Of course you are a great mother, no, you shouldn't feel guilty. I also know that's way easier to say than to feel. I should say that I have felt I needed to call YOU and ask you how you do it because, from here, you seem like supermom. We are in that season too where every moment it seems is spent evaluating, re-evaluating, and evaluating all over again how we are raising our toddler. We do this holding and shushing our newborn. I fantasized that your season was when it might get easier for a little while. Will I still be saying "Chew with your mouth shut?" Glad you had a break. I'm sure the boys are too. Hang in there and know you are inspiring the rest of us!

8:47 AM  
Blogger nicole said...

I completely understand! It is so draining to feel like all of your interactions with your children are of a disciplinary nature. It does make you question yourself and your abilities. Thanks for being so honest and sharing your struggles. We're not alone!

9:37 AM  
Anonymous BAMA said...


12:06 AM  
Blogger Amy Parris said...

Thanks ladies. Sometimes you just have to "write it out".

Mom N, call me anytime. Seriously!

Nicole, we are kindred spirits I think :-)

Mom, you made me who I am. Thank you.

12:51 AM  
Blogger PamL said...

I have felt the exact same way for the last year or so. Everything is so HARD....and you're right--ours are not big yet, either! No one ever tells you how hard it will be (probably because we wouldn't believe it!) I like your statement, "they are helping us to grow." Boy, isn't that the truth. Sometimes I think without my kids, I would be a lazy, selfish person! They sure take care of that! :)

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. As a mother of 4 with kids of very similar ages, I can totally relate! Your post was a blessing and an encouragement. Now to bed to rise to fight another day! :) God bless you!

12:21 AM  
Blogger Amy Parris said...

I knew this was a post only mothers would get. Isn't it nice to know we're not alone?

10:32 PM  

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