So I spend my days adding to the enormous dossier that is “all the ways I am failing at motherhood.” It’s become a sport now, to minutely dissect my every mothering move and find it wanting. Of course, I add my failings as a housewife to this same dossier which, the more I think about it, is probably bullshit because being a good mum and keeping a pristine home are really not the same thing. In fact, the more I worry about a pristine home, the less able I am to be a good mum since kids, by their very nature, tend to undo all the hard work of the brilliant housewife. Example: I have just cleaned all the floors and then the children have the audacity to WALK on them and EAT FOOD over them. Those little schmucks with all their LIVING. I find housewifey me is very resentful of children in general. Which means, at least in my world, being an excellent mum AND an excellent house keeper remains an incompatible mix.
The fact that I still believe I should be both offers an excellent explanation as to why I feel like I am constantly at war with myself. And myself never wins.
I do like myself however. I suppose it might sound as though I don’t but really, I just specialize in self-deprecation. I’m not about self-loathing. Much.
For instance, I am bad at keeping a perfect home. I want a perfect home but have realised that a/ the work required to keep a perfect home is boring as tits AND a waste of my considerable talents and b/ kids will undo hours of effort within seconds so why the fuck would I bother?
BUT though I may be a little bit lazy and possibly a hoarder, I know how to make a home. I am not Sally Homemaker but when you walk into my joint, you will see personality and a bit of quirky flair. You’ll almost certainly hear music, possibly at the same time as a blaring TV but that’s kind of the point, there’s always a lot going on. You’ll hear shouting and screaming and people, big and small, losing their minds, but you’ll also hear singing and tickle fights and more fart jokes than is strictly necessary.
I don’t know. Life is a mess. It just is. I do like order. I crave it even. But for now, it appears to be a losing battle. Perhaps it will get easier with time as the kids get older. Maybe it won’t. I can’t hold my breath until then. I can’t beat myself up until then.
Luca and I have been battling at the moment. Is 7 a tough age for boys? Seriously, this kid has some major back-chatting attitude going on. He’s defiant. Reminds me of me actually - which you would think would mean I would understand how to deal with him but I don’t. So naturally, I’m adding this particular incompetence to my dossier. “Can’t handle 7-year-old.” “Too shouty.” “Ate three cookies instead of working it out.”
But then I remembered something. It was the end of his first week at school. He was exhausted and so was I. Neither of us was coping well with all our feels. I sat on his bed sorting through his clean washing and as I began to pair up socks, I noticed there were tiny splinters of wood, like little prickles, caught in the fibres. I thought about how tough his first week must have been – this brand new place with brand new rules and expectations. I couldn’t bear to think of prickly socks being an extra discomfort on top of everything else. So I spent fifteen minutes inspecting each sock for prickly bits and duly removing them. If I got nothing else right, I would do this. I would save Luca’s little feet from cactus socks.
And so yes, my dossier is a seam-splitting collection of mothering transgressions, but I love my kids, with all my lioness heart, I love them and if I can, I will remove the splinters. I will make their house a home.
But would it kill them to eat over a plate?