Everyone told me that becoming a mother would change me. I, like a fucking idiot, took that to mean that it would change me into a better person. On the days in my third trimester where I had to quarantine myself in the house with the blinds shut and the doors locked lest I give birth in jail, I would rub my rounded belly and promise the wriggling little being inside that I would be a more patient person once she was born. I had visions of becoming one of those really zen people who don’t have mini-strokes whenever they read internet comment sections. You know the type. Soothing voices, flowy clothing, like the human equivalent of chamomile tea. Yoga instructors. Cult leaders. That Venn diagram where they overlap, which is basically a circle.
The thing is, I’m still the same shitty, lazy, short-tempered person I was before I got pregnant. Problem is, I’m now responsible for a human life. A human life whom I love more than all the stars in the sky, but one that makes me question why evolution has allowed human beings to be able to emit sound at that pitch. Not only am I responsible for ensuring the survival of this small pigtailed girl whose life goal is apparently to emulate Super Dave Osborne until she is removed from my care by the state, I am also supposed to support her emotional well-being and model good behaviour.
I mean, fuck me, right?
Just a few months into her sophomore year of life, it’s still far too early to tell if I’m really screwing up. She has almost thirty consistent words and you can say all of them on network television, so at least those fears haven’t come to fruition. We have a close bond in spite of all that bottle feeding and vaccinating and nighttime readings of ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’. Some nights I put her to bed and watch the soft glow on her feathery golden eyelashes and feel I’ve done a good job. And then there are the nights spent choking tears back into the black hole in my chest because oh god, I am not the mother she deserves. In spite of all the tantrums and torn books and mac and cheese smeared into the dog’s fur, the person I’m always most angry at is myself.
It’s kind of become the thing to compare yourself to Pinterest Moms and while I tease sometimes, I have the utmost respect for someone who has the energy and inclination to put together a dollhouse made of milk cartons. It has working lights that run off a generator powered by coconut oil? That is some next level shit and you should be working for NASA. I don’t feel bad about myself compared to crafty moms because it would be like feeling inferior to Fitzroy River turtles because they’re able to breathe through their asses. No matter how amazing it is, I am just not built for certain things. You know who gives me that sick feeling in my stomach? The moms who handle stressful situations while just exuding love and patience. The ones who seem to intuitively know how to elicit the best responses from their children. They’re the ones who would never dream of throwing perfectly good pancakes in the trash because their kid screamed rather than eat a bite of them, who would never respond to a wail over the baby monitor with a whispered “Christ, what NOW.”
I know there’s no parent on earth who has never had an off day or a moment where they feel they did the exact wrong thing. It’s not for the faint of heart, this business of trying to raise a good person while at the same time trying to be one. All I can do is pledge to try again tomorrow as I apologize with a syrup-sticky hug and pass the Cheerios to a little girl who, for some reason, loves me anyway. I hope for now that’s enough.