Thursday, November 4, 2010

I think I'm a bad mother

For those of you reading this who haven't actually been to my house, the setting is, shall we say, rustic. We've got woods and rocks, deer and fishercats.  We live in a quiet neighborhood and there isn't a ton of traffic on our road ... nor are there streetlights - but I digress.

Our yard is set down from the road, providing the big boy in my life some serious rock climbing adventures right in his own front yard.

Our little mountain goat.

There's about five feet of grassy shoulder at the top before you hit the pavement of the road, so I let his highness climb all the way up (while I stay below in the yard).  He's king of the mountain up there, and I know my cautious boy won't bolt into the road.

There is an unseen tether between this boy and I, and he has begun to stretch it. Farther and farther, he's inching away from me.  This simple act of letting him climb to the top, alone, and trusting him to obey the rules - it's important to him, and to me. He knows I am trusting him, and I know I can.

Yesterday, a car drove by and I saw the startled driver, staring at this boy. Watching him to be sure he stayed away from the road. I was grateful for her caution and her concern.

Almost immediately though, a chorus of derisive commentary began in my head. I could hear this woman's thoughts:

Oh my god! That kid is way too close to the road!
Where is his mother?
What an idiot! He shouldn't be allowed up there.

I was seized by an irrational urge to chase after her and explain that he's perfectly safe up there - I know I can trust him.

It's just that apparently I don't trust my own judgement.  Those aren't her condemning opinions little mama, they're mine.

This is what motherhood feels like for me. I don't have a damn clue what I am doing here, and I'm just waiting for someone to find me out.

I do the best I can, but I think you are doing a way better job with your kids than I am doing with mine.

This is the most important job I've ever done, and I have no confidence that I am headed in the right direction, or even that I'd know the right direction if I stumbled into it.

Hey Bud, don't pick your nose. This is a serious post.

I just want what's best for them. I just want it so bad it's an endless aching. And the worst part is, it's up to me to give it to them, and I'm not at all sure that I know how.


  1. Hey, Melissa, I am constantly waiting to be "found out." And not just in regards to motherhood. I wish I knew why we torture ourselves. I sometimes think I am the soul factor in how "successful" my children become, whatever that means. It puts a great weight on our children to be who we want them to be and not who they are.

  2. I know exactly what you mean Tonya - I find myself defining "success" for my children by the standards of others, instead of allowing them to define it for themselves. It's just so hard not to.

  3. hey missy think you should have an internal conversation with your grandmother. don't think she had complete faith in everything she did but some how managed to raise 6 functioning adults. i am sure she would be very proud of both beckett and jacoby and the life as a mother that you are living..i feel her helping me everyday and you should get intouch with that feeling too..

  4. Just re-read my comment - I meant to say "sole" meaning only, and instead wrote "soul." Freudian slip, perhaps?

  5. Just arrived from Ellie's blog.

    And I am so glad to see someone else letting their Little Man stretch the tether, trusting him to follow the rules - at a relatively young age. My Little Man has just turned three, and loves taking responsibility for himself and for things around him (he has to feed the cats their breakfast, for example.) He is now, at the grand old age of three, allowed up the ladder to the loft, with someone RIGHT behind him. And at four, he is looking forward to being allowed a sharp knife while cooking. When someone unthinkingly passed him a sharpish knife, he looked at it and said, "That's a sharp knife. I'm only three now." He knew the rules.

    And yet, other children his age are tearing round buildings, unable to control their own impulses, creating havoc and can't be left alone for one minute. I can't help but think there is a connection.

  6. It's amazing how they light up when you allow some appropriate responsibility. Sure, it takes longer for him to take off his shoes, hang up his coat, and put away his own hat and mittens - but man does he love to do it :) Thanks for visiting!