Saturday, August 11, 2012

Wading Through the Raisin Bran

Our article in the paper has prompted several emails, Facebook messages and personal encounters with family, friends, and even complete strangers.  The most common comment is something along the lines of "You'll be such a good mommy to this little girl" or "She is so lucky to have you as a mommy".  I know these words are meant to be encouraging, but they make me cringe.  Every time.  I'd like to hand out little business cards to these people with this blog post on them:  And then maybe a post-assessment asking if they still think I'll be a good mommy after reading about our crazy, dysfunctional life.  And as for her being the lucky one?  No, no, no....we are the lucky ones.  We are being blessed beyond all explanation to be the parents of this precious child, whom we've never seen or met, but would still die for.  I know this post is uncharacteristically cynical today, but it's been a hard week.  I haven't felt like a good mommy.  I feel like I'm stuck in a tornado with a whirling dirvish named Juliana spinning around me.

With that said, I'm reading "House Rules" by Jodi Picoult.  It's about a mom raising a child with high-functioning autism.  And this part of the book spoke to me:

We are expected to be supermoms these days, instead of admitting that we have flaws. It is tempting to believe that all mothers wake up feeling fresh every morning, never raise their voices, only cook with organic food, and are equally at ease with the CEO and PTA.  Here's the secret: Those mothers don't exist. Most of us - even if we'd never confess - are suffering through the raisin bran in the hopes of a glimpse of that magic ring. I look very good on paper.  I have a family, and I write a newspaper column. In real life, I have to pick superglue out of the carpet. rarely remember to defrost for dinner, and plan to have BECAUSE I SAID SO engraved on my tombstone.  
Real mothers wonder why experts who write for Parents and Good Housekeeping seem to have their acts together all the time when they themselves can barely keep their heads above the stormy seas of parenthood. Real mothers don't just listen with humble embarrassment to the elderly lady who offers unsolicited advice in the checkout line when a child is throwing a tantrum.  We take the child, dump him in the lady's cart, and say, "Great. Maybe you can do a better job." Real mothers know that it's okay to eat cold pizza for breakfast. Real mothers admit it is easier to fail at this job than succeed. 
If parenting is the box of raisin bran, then real mothers know the ratio of flakes to fun is severely imbalanced.  For every moment that your child confides in you, or tells you he loves you, or does something unprompted to protect his brother that you happen to witness, there are many more moments of chaos, error, and self-doubt.
Real mothers may not speak the heresy, but they sometimes secretly wish they'd chosen something for breakfast other than this endless cereal. Real mothers worry that other mothers will find that magic ring, whereas they'll be looking for ages.
Rest easy, real mothers. The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already are one. 

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