In our house, we rotate bedtimes. Honest to goodness since the time they were no longer breastfeeding, my husband and I have switched on and off. If he puts Reese down, I put Pierson down. Sometimes there's the nights where that can't happen; I'll be shooting a wedding or have photography sessions for instance and Asa will do them both--or we'll flip flop because one kiddo has requested the other parent. But 95% of the time I think it's pretty routine that we just switch.
Recently it was my turn with Pierson. Tis' the season for all things Halloween, so he set out ALL the books that he had related to this holiday. We decided on Happy Halloween Little Critter, and before we began he rolled closer to me and asked, "Mom, what are YOU scared of?"
I could have told him that I used to be deathly afraid of praying mantis, (ahem, still am) or how I still fear pretty much ALL living creatures besides dolphins in the ocean...but I kind of froze. I decided to just matter of factly say, "Well, Buddy--most adults aren't really scared of things such as the dark, or monsters, or spooky things like that; we're more afraid of other things. I guess what I'm scared of is being a bad mom."
He straight up laughed, y'all!
"MOM!" he giggled. "You're not a BAD mom! That's just silly!"
And in that moment, I believed him. Five years of his life have come and went. His babyhood is a blur. I remember finding out I was pregnant with him, being excited that we would have a summer baby. I remember his first birthday, and trick or treating indoors when he was two because it was pouring out; he knocked on all the doors with his cousins and screamed "trick or treat!" I remember being terrified that I would break him. Surely my lack of knowledge in the motherhood department would at some point just utterly FAIL, and he wouldn't turn out okay.
Except that he did... and he has. And while his babyhood is a blur, his childhood is becoming a raw and vivid memory because that's the season we are in. I sit here and I wonder, in their short amount of time--their four and five years of living on this Earth, will they remember the wrongs?
I doubt any child remembers their youth as being perfect (because parents are human, and WE, are human). But lately I've wondered, how will they remember me? Pierson is my sensitive soul. If I raise my voice even a smidge, he winces and closes his eyes. I didn't lay a finger ON him, yet somehow his heart is shattered and his feelings are in disarray all over the ground. And then there's his sister, who I for the life of me and honest to God, cannot figure out. She can be so head strong and so TOUGH, and most days it doesn't feel as if anything I say or do affects her whatsoever. Can you guess what that translates to for me...?
A LOT of anger. I often feel that my life is a permanent profession of redirecting and saying phrases like, "Please stop. DON'T do that. You NEED to listen. You need to go to time out. Okay, I'm done. NO!" And then I remind myself--I am currently teaching kindergarten through fifth grades AND I have a four and a five year old at home. Oh, hello!
But this really isn't about her--or him. It's about moms. And the fact that I think there are a LOT of you who are scared of being bad at your job. But the truth is, you aren't. I just bought Jen Hatmaker's newest book, "Of Mess and Moxie," and it arrived at THE perfect time. She said this, which I just loved:
"Friends...I believe we can take a handful of things quite seriously as parents and take the rest less seriously, and it is all going to be okay. You are doing an amazing job. Your children know that they are loved and have felt it all these years deeply, intrinsically. If we get seven out of ten things mostly right as moms, we are winning the majority, and the majority wins the race." (Pg 17).
It's actually taken me over a month to finish this post, because guess what, today we just set up our CHRISTMAS TREE. No, Thanksgiving hasn't even passed, but I'm a blogger and our family LOVES Christmas so yeah, we're way early. But the truth is, this fear of mine hasn't changed. I think it was ingrained in me before my son ever entered this world and I'm not certain that it will ever go away. But maybe it's okay to be a little scared. Maybe it's okay that we STRIVE for goodness--that we don't give up, that we keep going, that we keep praying, and disciplining, and hugging, and crying.
Maybe it's okay that we want to be good moms. And maybe it's okay that sometimes we are scared.