I’m seeing a lot of Mother’s Day tributes floating around the blogosphere, and I love all of your stories! For a few seconds, I thought I’d write something about how my life as a mom is all rainbows and glitter and unicorns. But then I laughed and said, “Psych!” Because let’s be real: My life as a mom is confusing.
Not confusing as in I mix up my kids’ names and call Bunz by my husband’s name, or Little Bear by Bunz’ name. That happens on a regular basis, and we’re ok with that.
Not confusing as in I feel conflicted about the best parenting strategy, or working versus staying at home, or buying organic versus GMO bananas. Those are all good questions, but in all honesty I have a shit ton of other things to worry about. So I just do what works best for us and let the other moms debate the rest.
No, I mean confusing as in identity crisis confusing. As in, I can’t figure out which woman I am in the very first post on Team Bunz: The Other Woman. I look like one mother with two sons but I feel like two mothers, each with one son. And one of those mother-son relationships is not like the other.
Some of you already know what I’m getting at. When you have one child who’s WAY different from the other, your life as a mother gets complicated. You forget who you’re supposed to be for each child, their friends, and their world. You accidentally send your healthy kid on a playdate armed with emergency seizure medication, and your kid with a physical disability to the playground with roller blades and a helmet.
No? This doesn’t sound familiar? Hmm, ok. Let me back up and try to explain.
You know how we all exist in multiple worlds? In our Professional world, we are insightful and polite and well dressed. In our Private world, we wander around the house in our underpants with crazy hair and no makeup, shouting things like, “WTF is this! GET IN HERE, ALL THREE OF YOU! Who dissected fox poop on my office carpet and didn’t clean it up?”
Well, in addition to my Professional and Private worlds, I have Special Needs Mom world and Mainstream Mom world. I’ve had years of practice compartmentalizing these very opposite worlds, especially since Bunz and Little Bear have always gone to different daycares/preschools. But I’m starting to enter the stage of motherhood where I wonder who I really am. Special Needs Mom versus Mainstream Mom. Anxious Mom versus Confident Mom. Amazing Mom versus Regular Mom. Outsider Mom versus Insider Mom. Me versus the Other Woman. Or is it the Other Woman versus Me? Crap. This is so confusing.
Let me show you how this plays out in the real world.
The best example I can think of is last week, when I went to Little Bear’s school for a parent-teacher conference. I parked my car, walked up a steep hill, entered his school, sat down at a kid-sized table, and thought:
Thank you, God, for allowing my butt to fit in this tiny chair. This is excellent. But – gulp – how embarrassing would it have been if I didn’t fit? There must be an adult chair in here somewhere for when that happens. Maybe it’s in the closet. But the teacher is sitting in a tiny chair too, so maybe not? Ugh. No, wait, hold on … I see what’s going on here. The chair is a test! A healthy lifestyle test. And my butt fits, so I’m pretty sure I’ve passed. Whew.
When I finally looked up, the teacher was explaining the results of a Montessori assessment they’d done. I looked at the paper. Every item was checked off. At age 5, Little Bear can: tie his shoes, hold a pencil, manipulate objects of all kinds, clean stuff, count to 129 (not a zillion and thirty, like he told me. I knew that was a lie), write uppercase and lowercase letters and say their sounds, identify the shapes, be helpful and kind, recite various songs. I should buy the BOB books, she was saying, and work with him on … crap. I can’t remember. In my head, I was thinking we need to work with him on not being a Know-it-All. But then I saw his teacher’s write-up and realized that was going to be a hard row to hoe in the foreseeable future:
Let’s compare this with my first parent-teacher conference at Bunz’ school. Ha! Or let’s not. But for the sake of comparison, let’s revisit that day. I parked my car, walked up a (different) steep hill, entered his classroom, sat down in one of those little chairs, and thought:
My God. I seriously think I need medical attention. You can literally SEE my heart thumping through my shirt. Is this safe? This can’t be safe. And my hands are like ice. OMG, did she just say there’s a video. THERE WILL BE A VIDEO OF BUNZ AT THE END OF OUR TALK. It’s not enough to just TELL me how disruptive he is. She actually videotaped it. Fuck. No, no, calm down. This must be a test to see if I’ll voluntarily pull him from the school before I even see the video. No, I will not fail this test. But OMG. My heart.
When I finally found the courage to look up, I remember seeing a checklist – and realizing that a few of the items were actually checked off. Yes! Awesome!!! When I started to breathe again, I realized she was sharing some things we needed to work on. Ok, flash cards. Yes. I can make flash cards. Taking his medicine at lunchtime without a fight. Yes. We can handle that. But the iPad kept taunting me, sitting there so presumptuously on its fancy little stand. Smugly waiting to show proof that Bunz is not the absent-minded genius I believe him to be.
When I finally saw the video, I almost cried. Not in a bad way. In a I’ve-Just-Been-Scared-Shitless-and-Now-What-A-Relief kind of way. Bunz goes to a language immersion school, and the video showed him answering questions (and sometimes not) in another language. It was really cute, actually. Now, months later, he loves to watch that video and say, “That boy doesn’t know the answers? He doesn’t, Mama? But I do.”
I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to fully merge these two Mom worlds, but it’s interesting to imagine how that might play out. For example, if I went all Special Needs Mom on Little Bear’s world, I could seamlessly morph into a Helicopter Mom. If I went all Mainstream Mom on Bunz’ world, I could easily become an Apathetic Mom.
Crossing these new Moms with my Private and Professional worlds, I could imagine myself as an Apathetic Private Mom who shows up to school dropoff in a bathrobe. Or Helicopter Professional Mom who risks spontaneous combustion every time there’s a hint of failure.
I don’t know. None of these sound particularly right for me in this moment. But in the future, you never know … at least then I would have all my marbles in one place!
Hape Modrs Dey, from my loves to you!