Today has been a pig of a day, from a half-five start with my up-with-the-lark daughter, through yelling at my son because he wanted my attention when I was trying to restore order in a filthy house, to losing it entirely and sobbing for a whole evening after the dentist told me my three-year-old has two cavities (does parenting fail get any lower than knowing you didn’t control sweets/juice/teeth brushing enough in two short years to stop him having bad teeth like you?) finishing with an evening staring blankly at a su doku trying to numb my brain because I just don’t want to be me anymore.
Hubbie has watched me like a hawk to make sure I don’t do anything stupid and all I can think is I don’t want such love because I don’t deserve it.
So, as I often do, when happy words for the blog won’t come, I hit ‘random post’ to reread an old blog entry for inspiration. And I found this one, from 7th April last year. Seems appropriate (If slightly worrying that I have these days so often).
I don’t have many words today.
Lack of sleep and residual illness has turned me into at least four of the seven dwarfs. I’ll let you figure out which.
Instead of waffling on as usual, I’d like instead to share two thoughtful and beautiful posts about being a parent: both written as letters to a child.
One describes the parent I’d like to be, the other the parent I am far too often. Again, I’ll let you decide which.
It won’t be hard.
Like some poor, naïve fairytale mother, I’m trying to help you navigate your way through a forest that’s by turns enchanted and haunted. The path is familiar, as if I walked it once years ago, but different, too; overgrown and seemingly impassable in some parts, and unexpectedly clear in others. And as we pick our way through the undergrowth, as we do our best not to trip on twisted roots and sharp stones, I try to remember the lessons I’ve learned from all folktales I used to know.
For example, I won’t make the mistake that Sleeping Beauty’s parents did when sending out invitations to her christening. Unlike them, I’ll be sure to invite the dark fairy godmothers as well as the good ones, because I know that they’ll come anyway, slipping in through back doors and lurking in corners where you least expect them. I’ll let them give you their murky gifts in broad daylight, so that I can look them in the eye while they do so. Then I’ll smile and thank them, recognizing that I have to let life give you the bad as well as the good.
And when I send you out into the world alone, as I know that I will someday have to, I’ll give you something more substantial than bread crumbs with which to find your way back home.
And I won’t make you go to your grandmother’s house alone until I can be sure that you can tell the difference between an old woman and a wolf in a nightgown.
Today, I wasn’t a good mom. The morning came too soon after a long and exhausting night. I rolled out of bed and put pants on an hour before you normally woke up. When I came into your room you were ready for me, your hair tousled and your smile crooked. “I up!” You said reaching your arms out to me. “I pay wif toys!”
I didn’t smile, not because I don’t love you, but because I just needed more sleep. And then the day came and you stuck stickers to the couch and I grumbled under my breath. You tried to play tag and kicked me in the chest and I yelled, “BE NICE TO MOM!” I realize now, I wasn’t yelling that at you. I was just yelling at the world. But how could you know that? You couldn’t, and I’m sorry.
And when I went upstairs to go to the bathroom and you said, “NO MAM GO PODDY!” And I said, “Shut up!” It wasn’t my finest hour of parenthood.
I’m sorry I cried when you ate my lunch. The lunch I bought for both of us to feed my feelings. Because my feelings needed chicken nuggets, but apparently so did you. And I’m sorry I put you in time out when you made your plate do a little dance on the table. I’m sorry I didn’t kiss you when I put you down for nap, choosing instead to run away and lay in the guest room bed and just dwell in some silence.
These are only extracts of the posts. I encourage you to read the full version, and to follow these inspiring blogs. They get me through many hard days as a mother and a writer.