Both my children yesterday, in completely separate incidents and without the knowledge of one another, declared that I was “the perfect mother”.
No, seriously. They said that. They aren’t even on drugs or anything.
After laughing myself silly, I thought about what they said. And I? Was pretty touched.
I can guarantee that when I was almost ten years old, I did not think my mother was perfect. Or that her parenting was perfect. I already knew, at my daughter’s age, that I was a disappointment. My sisters were pretty and I was not. I loved to read and make up stories and tell jokes when I was supposed to be outside and being quiet. I didn’t fit in to my own family, ever. I still don’t.
I don’t think I’m the perfect mother. Far from it. So far, that you couldn’t see it from the Hubble telescope. I’m not always patient or kind. I’m fat and I can’t do math in my head. I’m funny, usually, and usually on purpose. I think its okay to laugh at yourself, and I hope I’m teaching them that.
I’m also profoundly depressed. Clinically. I have to take medication every day. I have to take more medication to sleep. I have to pay a therapist a god-awful amount of money to convince me that life is worth living. I am, depending on your perception, one crazy bitch or one hot mess. Not that one is better than the other, I’m afraid.
There is a very real possibility that at some point in the future, my children will have to deal with my illness.
There is a very real possibility that someday they will have to deal with an illness of their own, all because of me, and my crappy genetic contribution.
That’s pretty far from perfect.
I wonder sometimes, at night when I can’t sleep, if God won’t let me have a baby with Jason because something about the combination of me plus him would make a child who is one of those children who climb the clock towers and do terrible things to other people. It’s a horrifying thought, and even more horrifying when I look at my little children who are, by all outward appearances, completely normal, healthy, happy and well-adjusted. Divorce did not scar them. Knowing that their biological father exists in the world and doesn’t want to know them does not bother them. Somehow, the majority of my anxieties and fears do not seem to have transferred themselves to these small people, and for that? I am enormously grateful.
Also? Scared to death.
I’ve always wondered how far personal desire will take someone. More than anything in this world, I want to be a good mother. There is nothing else on this planet that I could ever or will ever want more than to be the mother that my children deserve. To be the mother who doesn’t freak out over every little thing. Who would rather read a book together than clean the house (anyday!). Who really wants to have children grow up to be good people, in a world where being good isn’t really valued.
I also want other things, deeply. Like to work in a job that isn’t Hell and for my husband to have a job. To not be in debt to Sallie Freaking Mae for the rest of my life. To be creative and have the opportunity to live my life in a creative way, instead of having my soul sucked out of me at every avenue. To have something published, to be a real writer instead of just playing one on the internet.
All of those things I want too. And none of them are happening.
So it’s scary. All of it.
Because I’ll never be perfect.