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When Will I Be Good At This?

November 10, 2008

On most days I just try to get by unscathed. But it seems that either of us avoiding serious injury, either mentally or physically, is more challenging than I thought.

I didn’t go into this hoping for “good.” I just wanted both of us to come out alive, kicking, and still talking when he’s off enjoying his own fabulously sucessful and happy life. But, good? I’m not even sure if I know what that is anymore.

I mean, some people think McDonald’s is a good dinner, right? Fuck that gourmet healthy natural crap. I want a big old Homestyle buffeT (emPHAsis on the “T”). And are the kids of those folks really that worse off. I mean, don’t they think their parents are good?

And then you’ve got those little brats on My Super Sweet Sixteen whose birthday parties look more like a P. Diddy Concert on a Yacht in France than a birthday party. They’ve got good parents too – at least I bet that’s what they think.

I’m not one to criticize because I’m pretty sure I won’t be winning any mothering awards ever. We play the same games, read the same books, and assemble the same puzzles. On some days, he eats baked beans and hot dogs – for lunch and dinner. And on more days than I’d like to admit, he sees the faces of Juno Baby and Elmo more than his own mother. And while I rarely lose my temper and I’m pretty damn patient, I’m not so sure that in itself makes me good at this job I’ve taken on.

It’s hard to look at mothering in comparison to anything else, because in my mind, it’s incomparable to anything else. I mean, who goes into a class thinking “I just want to do barely average. In fact, if I don’t fail miserably, that rocks.”? Or into a store thinking “I just want to buy something that looks okay on me. If my ass doesn’t resemble a cauliflower, I’m fine.”

I believe there’s a little something in all of us that strives to do well in everything we do. Maybe we don’t care about being the best, but we still want to be good, right?

But being a mother is not composing an essay, or doing a math equation, or a writing a blog. It’s dealing with another human – a piece of you (which always complicates things, doesn’t it?) – that has opinions and feelings and wants and needs. And no one tells you how to be good at that.

There are no classes, no What Not to Wears, no NOTHING. It’s trial, error, and a whole lot of hope.

I’ve realized that not feeling good at something is tough, but not feeling like you’re good at mothering is worse, although more typical than I thought. I read your blogs and my own blog and think, “What do you know. We all think we suck! WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.”

But really, I don’t think we suck. I just think we’re humans wanting to do well – wanting to be good mothers for our kids – and hoping that we don’t fuck them up in the process. But I wonder how much of this “I’m not a good mother” shit is visible to our kids – how much of our guilt for not being what we think is award-worthy is in our voices and in our actions. And how much our desire to be GOOD makes us anxious and afraid as a parent.

I have no answers right now. But I do know I just want to do right for my child(ren). And if that makes me good, great, or just plain average, that’s good enough for me.

Speaking of good parenting, I’ve enlisted the help of Moxie over at my clubmom blog to help answer reader parenting questions. If you don’t read her, check her out. She’s definitely helping in my quest to be a parent who does right for her kids. Feel free to email me a question for her as well. Her answers will go up every Thursday and I’ll link your blog if she tackles your question.

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