I’ve eaten a dictionary’s worth of words

eating my words

Before I was a parent, I’d see them struggling in malls with their cranky, annoying offspring and wonder why they brought them out that day. I’d see them pandering to their miniature dictators and think they were too soft on those brats. I’d watch them from the corner of my eye when they yelled at the kids in public and think they must be monsters behind closed doors. I knew exactly how I’d raise my imaginary children, and I knew the kinds of people they’d grow up to be.

They would eat their vegetables because I said so. They’d be put to bed and sleep soundly till morning because that’s what they’re supposed to do. They would speak politely, remembering their manners, and use proper table etiquette and never say words like “fart” or “idiot”. We would spend our days happily taking adventures, learning, and reading book after book. My house would always be tidy because my happy children would sit quietly playing in their immaculate rooms.

I wouldn’t have to raise my voice, because I would have taught my children to respect and listen to me without having to ever yell. They would love music and literature and enjoy museums and galleries. They would wear beautiful clothes I’d chosen for them and would have neat hair and clean shoes, always. And I would never wear that in public, because I’d have some respect for myself, for pete’s sake.

They would excel in school because not only would they be intelligent, they would also be so eager to learn. They could recite interesting facts about our world and impress adults with their vocabularies. They would be charming and well-loved.

And then I had my children.

Our days are filled with utter chaos and joy. The house is a mess most days, and the kids get more fun out of poop humour than I care to admit. We fight and yell and there are days when I can’t do anything but sit on the floor and cry because I am all out of ways to convince my kids to just be nice to one another and give their mama a break. Sometimes I’m really not sure they’ve had fruits or veggies in a couple days, and often I just don’t really feel like putting together Instagram-worthy lunches for them.

There are mornings I wake up to the sounds of them fighting already and wish I could just shut my eyes until Daddy gets home. I tell them I just NEED A BREAK. I’m that mom dragging her preschooler out of the grocery store under her arm, milk and butter needs be damned, because he JUST WANTS GUM and I can’t buy him yet another package of that frigging stuff because he wastes it and gets it in his hair and all over his hands and oh my god I just need a break.

My kids aren’t always happy. They’re not always smiling, and making amazing childhood memories that some other mom would lovingly print and protect in a baby book. We don’t even have baby books. Sometimes the TV is their entertainment for a day while I write. More often than not, their clothes are chosen from the clean laundry that’s piled on the floor because I just haven’t got the time or energy to get it into everyone’s dresser drawers yet. And you know what? I feel like I’ve won because, hey, that laundry is clean.

I hiss at the kids to STOP IT RIGHT NOW OR YOU’RE IN BIG TROUBLE and I have all different kinds of mom-guilt, wondering if I’m messing up these little people or if I’m doing it right, or how big their therapy bills will be one day.

There are mornings when we wake up and do crafts together and everything is beautiful and calm. It’s these moments I like to capture because they’re just so filled with happiness and love, my heart could explode. They smile and tell me I’m the best mom ever and things are just so peaceful. They play together and imagine far away worlds where ponies and robots live in harmony, and I find the time to not only shower, but to blow my hair dry and put makeup on. I find time to write, and there is no whining to be heard.

On the good days and the bad, I love these kids with a ferocity I have never felt. I had no idea how consuming it would be, being their mom. How every day is one step closer to them being grown, to them forming their ideals and expectations and views of our world.

I am so full of the words I’ve eaten since becoming  a parent. A dictionary’s worth of words I’ve had to swallow. All that judgement and assumption. And it doesn’t end just because we become parents, it’s still out there, parent against parent, mom against mom. This is a difficult job, and it’s one I feel overwhelmingly privileged to have, but it’s also one that, while doing it, you’ll never really know if you’re doing it right.

What I know now is that I really have no idea.

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18 thoughts on “I’ve eaten a dictionary’s worth of words

  1. Hey! That’s what my future kids are going to be like too! Minus the house being clean bit, because I don’t even HAVE kids yet and it’s always a mess 😉

    For what it’s worth, I think you’re an amazing mom. From the brief time I spent with your wee ones, I could tell they were lucky to have you!

    1. Thanks, Lisa. I think I’m an ok mom, but it’s definitely not something I’ll ever feel like I’ve mastered. 🙂

      Set the bar LOW. 😉

  2. I don’t have kids, but I hear what you’re saying all the time, particularly you never know if you’re doing it right. I firmly believe that if you are “worrying about whether you are doing it right”, you most likely are. You’re doing the best you can and that makes for lucky kids.

    1. You’re right about that. At least when we wonder if we’re doing something right, we’re demonstrating care. 🙂

  3. I was nodding the entire way through this. Yes. YES.

    Also this? More often than not, their clothes are chosen from the clean laundry that’s piled on the floor because I just haven’t got the time or energy to get it into everyone’s dresser drawers yet. And you know what? I feel like I’ve won because, hey, that laundry is clean.
    That right there gets a hell yes.

    I once had a friend who didn’t have kids flat-out scold me for popping a paci into a whiny Emily’s mouth. I wanted to be super smug about it when she finally had a baby and I saw her kid walking around with a pacifier, but mostly I just nodded in solidarity…because now she understood.

  4. I was *so* the same way before I had my daughter… stunned at my friends even for catering to their whiny snot factories, especially when they would buy them the candy at the check-out just to shut them up (oh, wait, I STILL want t o smack people for that, because we wonder why we’re hearing so much about boys & girls growing into teens then adults that don’t understand that no MEANS no, not “bug me till I say yes”, but that’s a whole other blog altogether!).
    But yeah, learning the hard way that no matter how hard you work at the job of Parent, there ARE going to be the Terrible Twos (oh and Ferking Fives, can’t forget that!) and there are going to be temper tantrums and there are going to be boogers to deal with in places boggers should never EVER be. And deal with hormones and friend problems & bullies at school … I, too, have discovered a love that I never knew I had in me — poke the Mama Bear and there is going to be trouble. And needing Kleenexes for certain times when my pride in her overflows from my eyes or from actually feeling the pain in her heart as she handles something really bad, like losing her dad at 9. But also an amount of amazement in the knowledge that I *made* her, and seeing the world for the first time through her eyes (I always thought that was a pile of BS, but nope, chomp chomp those words!)…

    1. And you know, if anyone had told us we’d feel like this, we’d never believe them anyhow, right? xox

  5. Believe me, I was a lot like you when I still had no kids. But when they came, everything changed. Not what I was really expecting to happen when it comes to raising kids but even so, I was happy. And I am still very happy until now because of my kids. They are my source of happiness no matter how extremely difficult it is to be a parent. 🙂

  6. I think we all have our insecurities as parents. That being said, it’s pretty obvious you’re doing just fine! You’re a great mother!

  7. Like I said, your blog entries are awesome… There’s just one thing. I feel kind of bad for your son Mason. Being born with lots of allergies, things like that. Poor kid. 🙁

    1. There are plenty of things far worse than a few allergies. Besides, he has grown out of most of his already anyhow. But thanks!

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