Sunday, August 10, 2008

Terrible mother.

Okay. I don't beat them, or withhold food, or affection, and I read to them daily, and take them to do fun things like ride roller coasters and hang out at the water park and hike and fish and camp and picnic at the arboretum.

BUT.

* I don't love to play cars and trucks. In fact, I hate it. I chalk it up to my aesthetic, really--not a girly aesthetic, mind you, because I have always preferred vehicles to dolls, and as a child drove my mother mad by refusing to touch the lovingly-made babydoll with its custom wardrobe and demanding a Tyco Night-Glo race set instead. No, it's a matter of my limited literary abilities. I can't come up with plots. I can play games, and love to participate in any play that has a narrative predetermined. But when those cars start talking to one another, and their small vehicular drama begins to unfold, I'm flummoxed. I have no idea why one car would behave differently than another might, and no idea how to respond when one of my cars gets attacked by aliens. I don't do fiction. Not at all. The period of my academic specialization is sparse in narrative fiction, and I don't really work in those texts anyway BECAUSE I'M A LYRIC GIRL.

* After a week of single-mothering, particularly an end-of-summer week when Thing 1 is getting bored, and Things 1 and 2 are beginning to get on each other's nerves, I'm ready for a night to myself. I feel awful about this. Shouldn't I be desolate when my children are not in my arms? But I'm not--on the contrary, I'm glad to have a few minutes to, say, go running without pushing a stroller and a reluctant kid on a bike, or poop without being barged in on three times. I'm not sorry to wake up when my body wakes me and not at the whim of a three-year-old alarm clock, even though my little ticker wakes me, when he's here, by singing "Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal," or "It's the End of the World As We Know It."

* I hate to cook for them. Don't get me wrong: I love to cook. A bit of a freak about it, really. But it's no fun when your audience, aged 7 and 3, respond by saying, "This cilantro tastes terrible, like I might throw up" and "I only want cereal," respectively. I recognize that I must plug away, condition their palates for more advanced eating, but gah.

* I yell at them. I get frustrated having to give an instruction six times, over the course of which repetition it becomes more and more a command, and then a holler. I get frustrated with their lapses in, it seems to me, totally self-evident logic. My frustrations get compounded by the fact that I'm up all night trying to do the work I don't do during the day because I'm dragging them on outings that somehow fail to live up to staying home and playing cars and trucks.

Shouldn't a mother who doesn't have her kids every night devote herself in Donna Reed sweetness to them when they ARE around? Shouldn't she be playing cars and trucks and speaking in dulcet tones and sneakily healthifying mac-and-cheese? Shouldn't she be maternal perfection itself, to make up for their less-than-perfect, no-longer-Beaveresque-and-nuclear family?

For the record, I know the answer. But I reserve the right to occasional hysteria.

I'm going running.

9 comments:

(^oo^) bad girl (^oo^) said...
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Lisa B. said...

Atta girl! go running! Because that is what you should do, or anything else in that genre of self-care, just as soon as is humanly possible. Being a mom under any circumstances requires everything you have to give and more, which, guess what, is impossible. And truck/car narratives. Sheesh.

Way to go for the awesome kids, by the way.

Pamphilia said...

This is hilarious- and so true. I have no experience as a mother (yet) but someday I'd like to, and it is refreshing to know that mom's get annoyed and pissed off at their wonderful offspring, even single moms. Things 1 and 2 sound adorable, and your love for them clearly shows through your annoyance. Don't worry- go running and I think it's okay to snap at them now and then. My mother snapped at me frequently when I was a little pain-in-the-arse, and our relationship is much the better for it.

J. Newberry said...

You are beautiful because you speak the truth.

I identify with you on all points save one: I love narrative games! I know what this truck would do were it attacked by aliens, but, then again, in another life, I was a novelist.

You rule, you rock. You are awesome. You are inspiring--to me & your young'uns.

Never forget that.

Renaissance Girl said...

aw, j.n: are you getting all keatsy on me? that is all i know on earth, and all i need to know.

Leslie said...

Hey, RenGirl!

Too hilarious. And I'm all about the lyric too. Nephew (8) always gives his toys (his cars, his men) elaborate backstories and I'm like, huh? I'm like, wanna go shoot hoops or run around the yard like crazy people?

And then I take a long solitary hike and am glad he is not mine.

Renaissance Girl said...

so glad you dropped by, leslie! miss my fellow teetotaler.

the rebel lettriste said...

RG,
the whole "I am a lyric girl" made me laugh out loud. So true! Everybody assumes that the poets and English profs give a deep goddamn about narrative, and story arcs, and plot. And all I ever care about is anecdote, detail, description, and the motherfucking sublime.

I'd say also that the not-living-together-all-the-time thing is tough for the reasons you describe. I feel it with my long distance BF.

One feels pressured to make every minute you do have precious and ideal, but then there's the whole adjustment to not having shared space or time in a while, and everybody being keyed up as a consequence...

Amelia said...

I LOVE posts about honest motherhood. It is the good the bad the ugly and sometimes the sublime. I'll keep working at it, and so will you.