My mom raised a pretty tough girl. For all the neurotic mess that is me, I don’t break easily. I am tender-hearted and tend to take criticism personally for about a week. Then I get over myself and try to see the bigger picture, the quality behind the words that hurt me so. I grew up the kind of girl who wanted it all and, by God, was going to have it all.
I began my marriage with the idea that I was going to be a working mother. I wanted that career. I wanted the success. I went to college and got a degree and a job. Then I lost the job due to layoffs. Then my husband got a job that made it impossible for me to work, be married, and have kids and have any of it work. Either the kids would never see me, or Jim would never see me, or my work would suffer. No portion of my life was going to get the amount of me they needed.
My income was simply savings money and small bill money. We would need to scrimp, but the choice became clear. I had to be a stay-at-home-mom for the sake of my family. And it is the hardest damn thing I’ve ever done. Hands down.
There isn’t one day that goes by that I don’t feel like I’m failing marvelously. No matter where I turn, I’m toast. Either my oldest son thinks I have a vendetta against him and live only to make him miserable, or my youngest son, so consumed with getting his own way, doesn’t listen to the list of tasks he has to accomplish to earn what he’s asking for and then calls me a liar when all is said and done. OR my husband, who works 60 hours a week on night shift, tells me I’m too soft on the kids and need to do better following through. Because every mom hates their kid? Because every mom makes up pounds and pounds of lies? Because I’m raising these kids alone?
In addition to all this madness, I’m doing my damnedest to launch a writing career, a lifelong dream. I’m doing okay by my standards, taking into account that the boss of me is my Type A personality. No effort is ever enough. All acceptances are pity acceptances, not based on talent. Let’s not even mention that the time I get to write is stolen moments here and there, some of which is planned but never had because of kid sickness, or kid antics, or kid social life, or husband needs, or….well, you get the picture.
All of this negativity is my average Saturday.
This Saturday, I lost my shit. Again. For the umpteenth time.
I got tired of the stomping of feet, the slamming of doors, the eye rolling and the general demeanor of pain in the ass floating around my house. So I woke my husband three hours early for work.
“Deal with the kids. I’m on the verge of abusing them. That’s how SOFT on them I’m feeling right now,” I hissed through tears.
“Go, take a break,” Jim said to me. He dressed and went downstairs.
The air changed once the silent knowing of “Holy shit! Dad’s up!” poured over the house. Like someone waved a magic wand, all the B.S. came to a screeching halt. The stomping feet were silenced. The doors were quiet. The eyes were still. The pain in the ass feeling evaporated.
I began to cry less. I commenced breathing like a normal person. My hair decided it was tired of standing on end when it hit me.
Jim never raised his voice.
Jim never yelled.
Jim never threatened.
You see, I want it all.
I want to have the awesome kids that I have, but tweak that a bit and make them listen without the yelling and threatening.
I want to have the awesome marriage I have where I can tag team the whole parenting thing, but tweak that a bit and have him realize it’s not as easy as it is for him when the kids shiver in fear and just DO what he tells them without yelling or threatening.
I want to have carved-in-stone writing time that is respected by social lives and folks who need things because this is no hobby I’m playing at here.
I am missing the point, though.
There is a difference between wanting it all and having it all. It’s a vast chasm.
It’s name is perfection.
Type A personality or not, I have to understand that perfection is a card that isn’t on anyone’s table.
So, I sit here writing, wearing noise canceling ear muffs because the kids are playing video games for the next hour. My hubby and I just got back from an Adults Only dinner at Panera where we talked like grown ups about grown up things around grown up people. We’re waiting on pizza to be delivered for the kids’ dinner so I can steal another twenty minutes of time that their attention is diverted to focus on my writing.
For now, all is calm. The kids are listening. Jim has acknowledged that the stolen moments of tag team parenting he experiences are light years from the experiences I have in the hours long solo parenting trenches. And I’ve gotten some writing done. I’ve gotten an essay sent off to a potential publisher.
You see, the problem for me is that I never realized what “it” was that I wanted.
I don’t want perfection.
I want what I have: awesome kids, an understanding and loving husband, and a chance at being a writer.
Life is about loving what you have. None of that is perfect.
It is, however, enough.