I am being haunted by something that happened yesterday – just a little thing that has me questioning every single thing that I am as a mother. Libby was playing with her dollhouse people and I overheard her saying in the dollhouse mom’s voice that being a mommy was really hard. A sick feeling washed over me as I remembered another comment she made last week, something about me wishing I didn’t have kids. What? Shame. shame. shame on me.
I was watching the new sitcom Modern Family and the stepfather smugly declared being a good dad is 90% showing up. I remember thinking that was setting the bar pretty low, but maybe that’s all I’ve been doing – showing up. I make meals and take care of everyone’s basic needs. We get homework done and read bedtime stories, I’ve been working on Halloween costumes and making sure everyone has mittens and boots that will fit when winter sneaks up on us, but I’m terrified that I’ve detached myself in a way that Libby’s 4 year old intuition has picked up on.
I, of course, haven’t told her that being a mom is hard but clearly I’ve communicated that to her in that dangerous way we “tell” them things with petty actions and missteps – the things that knock the wind out of you when you realize how careless you’ve been. And I’ll be the first to say motherhood is hard but that’s a conversation I have with girlfriends, not my children. So, what did I think, Libby was completely oblivious and didn’t notice I wasn’t even hearing her constant chatter while I hung out on Facebook yesterday afternoon and got frustrated with her impatience when I drug her along to run my errands all morning?
I’m not making any excuses but it occurs to me that both of these incidents happened on Monday afternoons. Monday is our long day – Libby doesn’t have preschool and Isaac is taking an afterschool class. My dear girl really is good company but a 9 hour day without Isaac is something we are going to have to get used to for the next couple months. I will make sure we have some plans so I’m not her only, disappointing hope for a playmate next week and at the end of the day she knows that it is my joy to be her mommy, not my cross to bear.
Today she seems no worse for the wear but I can’t get past feeling like I hurt her, I was careless with her and that is haunting.