He texted, “What question do you not want me to ask you? What question would you find disconcerting?”
I didn’t write it. I didn’t dare. But what came to mind was this: Are you a good mother?
Because all I can see sometimes is how I fail them.
How I’m not good enough.
How I don’t read to them long enough, and I shout, and I don’t volunteer in the classroom.
I hear about homemade muffins + family dinners and I think about our meals – haphazard, no one staying in their chair, at least 3 different meals at play, not enough vegetables.
I think about the cavity on Nico’s tooth, the one right in the front – how on earth did he get a cavity there? and I can see how I delay getting him to the dentist. I imagine him with a gold tooth right there in the front and I feel mortified. I’d rather they just pulled that sucker out. He doesn’t need it, right? It’s just a baby tooth.
And I can see of course that this is all about me,
and that hidden part of me,
those two words inscribed somewhere inside my wounded heart: not enough.
And of course I will take him to the dentist, but I can already see myself rehearsing my lines – “I told him he needed to brush ALL of his teeth, someone (not me) has clearly been giving him gummy worms…”
However you slice it, there it is – bad mother.
Do all mothers feel this way?
I suppose if I really thought I was a terrible mother I wouldn’t be writing this – the shame would keep me hiding. But how do you get to good enough mother? and what is that anyway? There’s no way to tell.
Imperfect mother. Maybe I’ll make a t-shirt that says that. Or maybe we need a hashtag #imperfectmom
I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this. Maybe so I don’t feel so alone. Maybe so you don’t. Maybe we’ll all start wearing t-shirts that say funny things. Maybe it would help in those moments when you stare at that other mom – that perfect mom – from across the playground. Maybe it would help if she had a shirt that said, “I don’t know what I’m doing either. I’m totally in over my head. Let’s be friends.”