Did you ever run into a title of a book and feel like it spoke to you? When I saw, I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids, I felt a huge sigh take over my body and just thought, yes... that's me.
I don't necessarily think I'm a terrible mom now, but boy, I was way better at it in my mind when I was in my 20s. I remember dating someone and playing with his nieces for hours and drawing Disney characters that they could color and chasing each other in the back yard playing tag. My boyfriend at the time said, "Man, you're going to be an awesome mom". And I think for the first time in my life I agreed with a compliment. I thought, yep, I am. It's a job I was born to do.
When my first daughter arrived in the world with a terrible case of colic that lasted a year, my fantasy job came to a screeching halt and I felt like I slammed head first into a wall. I never slept, I was 30 pounds overweight. I had a baby that cried constantly no matter what I did and had a husband that traveled all the time. None of my friends had kids at the time and could only tolerate the screaming for so long. Not exactly bliss.
Fast forward a number of years, and the crying comes more from me than my children. I thought I'd be the one that juggled it all so well and every kid would be incredibly well adjusted and if I did everything right, I'd never have problems. I know it sounds crazy, but I truly believed parenting wouldn't be that hard.
I occasionally get to play tag, or build lego castles, but not nearly as often as in my fantasy world. I was hit with a ton of bricks when the other day my four year old said, "you don't play with me that much". I just thought, are you kidding me? I am ALWAYS playing with you.... and then he said something pretty profound for his age, "I think you just pretend to play with me". He's right. He makes me plastic food and I take a bite, say delicious and then move on. I race cars with him, but for about 5 minutes and then tell him it would be really fun if he raced just two cars, one in each of his hands.
As far as my teens go, I'm not sure what I fantasized about them. I for sure thought I'd be PTO president, have a blast building science projects and play every sport imaginable together. Well, that's been another challenge... Funny enough, my teenagers turned into actual teenagers. I don't always have the right tools in knowing how to deal with every emotional milestone, and am not always able to react to their outbursts calmly and effectively.
It's kind of like dieting. I know what I should be doing but it's not always easy. I know I need to be more patient and affectionate with every kid, however it's difficult when your 14 year old is telling you about how much better other moms are and she can't wait to turn 18.
I'll never live up to that fantasy mom that I thought I'd be. However, I know I'm doing the best I can, and I have always put my kids needs in front of everything else. I love, worry and praise just as hard as I can and my kids don't appear to be too damaged by the fact that I don't have the energy to draw Disney characters anymore.
But I wake up every day and tell myself I won't pretend to play today. I will play. It doesn't always work, but the beauty of kids is that they're very forgiving and when I screw up, they give me another chance to get it right the next day...