I’ve lost count of the myriad fails I have performed since I became a parent.
To be honest, many of them now barely, if ever, enter my mind. I merely go along my merry way, barely flickering an eyelid at the misdemeanours I leave in my wake.
It is indeed from these minor misdemeanours to various indiscretions to outright acts of Bad Mothering that I have fumbled and stumbled my way through the last (almost) seventeen years.
Actually, I got off on the wrong foot entirely, not having allowed my children to squeeze their may out my vagina on their lonesome, but chose, instead, not to have them, you know, die, and allowed for medical intervention and the slicing of several layers of my abdomen so they may be extracted, aided and abetted in setting me off on the downward path that is Parenthood.
And it has pretty much all been downhill from there, although even those three moments, one for each child, and though somewhat significant, these indiscretions barely cross my mind these days.
So much has happened since those moments, from what sustenance they received to bedtimes to the schools I chose for them, the activities I enrolled them in, and …. oh, the list goes on ….
Let’s not forget the moments when I forgot things (lunch, excursions, pants), yelled or screamed, said horrible things, taunted them, and, oh my lordy, swore in front of them.
Yes, there were many times I showed my emotions in the presence of my children – the happy ones; the sad ones; the angry ones. Sometimes, these emotions were directed at my children.
I laughed, I cried, I said “for fuck’s sake” an awful lot.
And, why only a few weeks ago, my youngest was required to prepare his own evening meal. I would like to be able to say that was the last time, but, well, first and foremost, I don’t actually care and don’t feel at all guilty about it – although, apparently, I “should” – and it was less than a week later that my Middlest Child had some friends over, and we’d been at some school or extra curricular activity or other and had eaten there, and the three fourteen year old boys had to, you guessed it … prepare their own meal!
It was around this same rough time (sometime between the end of September and two weeks ago) that I also noticed my Middlest had outgrown his school pants.
Judging by the fact that the un-hemmed bottoms of the pants’ legs (yes, they’d unstitched themselves and I hadn’t got around to seeing to that issue) reached almost to, but not quite, his mid-calf, and this groinal region resembled the look of AFL players in the 1970s, I’d say he’d outgrown them,ahem, quite some time ago.
Possibly last June. Not the one just gone, but the one before that.
Not to be outdone by that farce, the Littlest One had a concert to perform at during the week, and needed to wear black and white. I knew we had a white shirt somewhere, I just couldn’t remember where, or what, exactly, it looked like. Long sleeves? Short sleeves? Not, in fact, white at all, put possibly navy and mauve checked.
You never can tell with me.
Anyhoo, I located it in the Middlest Child’s wardrobe. It fit the Littlest One perfectly.
I suspect there may be a requirement to, I dunno, do something about the fact that my children have grown, as they are wont to do, and that their clothes may need a bit of a culling or two.
As mentioned previously, I no longer feel any level of guilt about these things. Not a smidgeon. They have simply become part and parcel of the way our household operates, and I have simply accepted this.
Despite, however, my repeated bouts of Mother Fails, and that I am inclined to be open and honest with my children about the fact that I am human, and things do piss me off, and I get tired, and sad, and stressed, and can laugh and/or talk with them about my fails, as the situation calls for, my children still seem to think I have powers of inexplicable proportions.
You know; Mother Powers.
The Powers that mean you know everything, can do everything, and are pretty much infallible. Magical, even.
It’s not a place I particularly like to be, way up on a pedestal where I can, apparently, not only do no wrong, but can right every wrong there is.
I also need to add that there are times that I do feel guilt.
Like when our cat, Ramen, went missing. I had been home all day, doing stuff with the Littlest One, who happened to be unwell and home from school.
One cat returned, the other didn’t. I hadn’t noticed because, well, cats. They tend to do their own thing, and our house is somewhat crazy at the best of times.
I was sure someone knew where she was; she may still have been outside, or hiding up in a cupboard. She climbed in drawers, so it was possible she’d got herself in one only to have someone close it whilst she slept.
The point is, I didn’t worry.
And then she didn’t come home that night. Nor the next day, nor the next.
It was when she’d been missing a month, and we’d done all the things like checking local vets and the Lost Dogs’ Home, putting up posters, door knocking the local area, posting on various Facebook Groups … et cetera … that my Eldest, sad in his loss, turned to me and said “Can’t you just use your Magic Mum Powers to make her come home?”
In that moment, my heart broke just a little bit more.
We want to do our best.
It is human nature to want to stop others from hurting, and to not deliberately harm others … as a Mother, this is one hundred fold. A thousand fold. A millions fold.
All I could do was hug him, and not show that I, too, was grieving the loss of our cat.
All I could feel was failure, even though I know (and know that he knows) there are some things Mums just can’t do.
Even though we want to.
Even though we try.
We just can’t.