OK so fine. I’m a flawed human being. I don’t always act in my own best interests. I don’t always act in my children’s best interests. Sometimes this mother in me comes out who is more like what I think my own mother was like. Resolute. Directed. Consistent. Grownup. And other times, well. Let’s just say less so.
I’ll grant, for example, that shooting whipped cream into my mouth directly from the can is one of those things you do when you’re, say, nine. And I’ll grant that teaching my children this uncouth habit by poor example, to my partner’s complete and total dismay and probably disgust, is something that…well something my mother wouldn’t do for one thing. And OK yes, me walking through the grocery store with my two children when they were younger, all of us trying to not be seen spraying whipped cream into our mouths is, it could be argued, less than stellar mothering practice. But I’d like to say in my own defense that . . . well I don’t actually have a defense for that one.
But I do have a defense for the time that I walked with my children when they were younger through a pitch dark campground, quite scared myself, but trying to convince all of us that we were on an adventure. We had set up camp and needed some things in town, so while we were there and because it was dark by now and they were hungry, we got some dinner so we could just get to the s’mores already once we got back to camp. Except whoops the gate closes at whatever time that was so we couldn’t get in. We had to park outside the gate, climb over it, and walk into the campground, down what seemed to be an interminably long road in some very serious darkness. My son was a very little boy who was in charge of holding up the light, mostly because it served to distract him from fear, only that made things even more eery. I was pretty rattled by the whole thing but had to fake my way through it, believing not much of the this-is-a-perfectly-safe-campground narrative I was feeding them. They didn’t buy it either, I don’t think, but they were trying. Now that I’m writing it, I realize I actually don’t have any kind of vindicating defense for this mishap either.
And then of course there’s the time, which I’ve written about before, when I forgot to tell my children that their Grammy and Papaw’s dog had died. Now this wouldn’t have been so terrible I guess except that we were about two blocks from their house when one of them said something about “can’t wait to see Sally” and that was the point at which I was prompted to tell them about Sally’s demise. And none too delicately, I’m afraid. And unfortunately for all of us this memory is emblazoned in their skulls so that, every trip since, they recount it right around that same point in the bend of Piney Grove Road where I originally relayed the devastating news, something to the tune of “Oh. Um. Sally died.” I don’t have a defense for that one either.
And when they forget something that I wanted them to remember but is of little true consequence, I say things like “You were supposed to check to see if the dishes in the washer were clean before you put dirty ones in there,” which alone isn’t so problematic but when followed with some tender pedagogical prompt like “you big loser,” might be construed as such. I suppose. And when they are coming unglued over nothing, or are acting obsessively about this or that, I’ve been known to say something helpful and motivating like “Hey. Re-LAX! You big freak.” And sometimes when they’re telling a story I cut them off mid-narrative to say “Wait, before I forget…” and then continue with whatever it is that I’m terrified I’m not going to remember—which is a well-grounded and well-evidenced terror, let me just say—something urgent along the lines of “Did I show you that YouTube video of the dog rolling himself down the stairs?” And while I hardly ever flick them on the forehead as a mild disciplinary measure, I do frequently have my hand poised in the ready-to-flick position when they are heading toward an infraction. I don’t have a defense for that one either. There are more examples, but luckily I am at the end of my post. ( I do want to say to my mom at this point that I do actually act with dignity sometimes. I mean I’m not really as good at it as you but I’m working at it. Love, Amber).