Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day reminder

My mama somewhere in the 1960s.
Dear Lisa:

This is your annual reminder to be kind to yourself. You say this to other people, and yet you are so self-critical.

You tend to believe everyone else has it all figured out. That they all feed their children balanced, nutritious meals. That they always speak gently. That they stick to their routine and their kids go to bed on time. That they are organized and calm.

You are grateful when others admit that they, too, struggle. Not because you wish struggle on anyone, but because it is so nice not to be alone.

Before you had a child, you were a stellar parent. Your kids were going to eat organic fruits and vegetables and baked chicken and homemade lasagne. Certainly not chicken nuggets and fish sticks and buttered pasta with butter and nothing but butter because my god tomato sauce just ruins it.

Your kids eat chicken nuggets and fish sticks and endless buttered pasta. Oh, and pizza. This is what they eat. Your son likes fried eggs, but only the yolk, because the white part is gross. Your daughter eats scrambled eggs if it's Tuesday and the moon is waning and the jasmine is in bloom. Otherwise she hates them.

They like fruit. Sometimes they like broccoli. Please remember these are a win.

Before you were a mom, you were never going to be the parent who lost her temper. You can only remember one time when your mom lost her temper. Genuinely. Once.

And you know, you know that if you can remember to breathe while your kids are losing their little minds, you can remember to say things like, "You're so angry." Or, "You're very frustrated."

This stuff works. But only if you remember to do it.

When you don't remember to breathe then you lose your little mind and melt down as well and then it all goes to hell. And you feel absolutely terrible about yourself.

You apologize. You ask them to forgive you. They always do.

You're doing a better job of remembering, though. You didn't grow up with this. You grew up with spanking and being grounded and waiting in terror for your dad to get home for you to get into trouble.

You are reading about it and learning and doing your best.

You feel guilty when you let them watch TV because you just don't have the energy to interact. You should be doing projects. Why haven't you made that Calder-style fish mobile yet? You've been talking about it forever.

But honestly, your kids are bright and curious and interesting people. They use words like "lollygagging" and "malingering" -- probably because this is something we seem to do a lot of.

They're both very articulate, and Jordan loves math, which is something you do not share, but you are glad he does.

Speaking of glad, India says, "It's glad" rather than "I'm glad" and it is one of the cutest things you've ever heard. Like, "It's glad that it's sunny today so we can go outside."

They both use "may" like "would" and this you love as well. "May you pour me some milk, please?"

These are things you will never, ever correct. They will eventually go away, although hopefully not soon.

You sometimes wonder if your kids would be better off with a mother who is normal, and not someone who barely approaches an even keel on her best days. Your love is exuberant and boundless, but your lows are low.

The first thing you saw this morning was your daughter's sweet face, because she likes to sleep not further than two inches from you, although preferably partly on top of you.

This keeps you tired on a daily basis but you also love the snuggles. And you figure she won't be doing this forever.

You smiled at her, and touched her cheek, and she did the same to you. This is the kind of gift you could never have imagined.

You love your kids more than your own life. Your kids drive you up the wall. You would give them anything. You would give anything for more time to yourself.

These are contradictory and yet all simultaneously true. And more importantly, totally OK.

It's very glad that you're a mama. You love your kids. They love you.

You are doing your best. We are all balancing on an elephant's trunk while wearing a pencil skirt. None of it is easy.

Be kind to yourself.




  1. I love the elephant analogy! I'm so glad i read this today coz I needed to know I'm not alone. I generally dont discuss my lows with anybody because I already know what they would say. Not even with my Mom, who is the best listener in the world, because I dont want to add to the burden she already has to bear. I dont want anybody to see my weak moments. Especially not my younger sister because I want her to see me as a strong person she can run to when she is afraid. Thank you Lisa.

    1. You are never, ever alone. I promise you this. Big hugs.

    2. Return hugs to you too. And smiles. Never forget the smiles.


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