This post (titled I’m Not My Mother) originally posted on The Daliah Scene a few months ago. I’d still suggest going to check out her excellent site. It has undergone a few minor changes since then so read on for my Ideas of Motherhood.
While growing up, I had grand ideas of motherhood. My mom raised 7 children and seemed to hardly break a sweat! We grew up very rural (like, completely in the country, on a cattle ranch) so we didn’t have any opportunities to take dance classes or soccer. That was one of the changes I thought I might make with my own children because I firmly believed I would grow up to live in middle-class suburbia. Otherwise, I expected I would do everything very much the way my own mom did.
Ideas of Motherhood
I would cook 3 meals every day.
I would raise a huge (successful) garden.
I would can and dry and otherwise preserve all of our food.
I would buy two grocery carts full of food for $100.
I wouldn’t yell or spank. In fact, if I raised my eyebrows, everyone would know it was time to panic because I would have such great control over my temper that this would be a sign I was really losing it.
I would teach my children the value of hard work and to love nutritious foods.
I’d sew patches on pants and new doll clothes for my girls.
While I would love and play with my children, I would also take a back seat to their childhood, letting them figure things out for themselves and get muddy while creating outdoor adventures.
Oh, it makes me laugh to read that now! What really happened was quite different. What I hadn’t realized throughout my childhood was that I had inherited far more of my father’s genes than my mothers. And they are quite different people. Perhaps if I had viewed myself mothering the way my dad fathered us, I would have had a better idea of what was coming.
I did mother a lot like my mom in the beginning, with one little baby, living in a tiny house on a ranch. (I am still baffled that I’m a rancher’s wife but saw it as an excellent opportunity to walk in my mother’s shoes. If I had only realized that she walks on an entirely different road…)
I realized I wasn’t going to be able to pull off my idea of motherhood when my first son was about 18 months old. He had gone outside with me to go watch his dad train a young horse. I helped my husband for a few minutes and turned around to find my son sitting in the biggest mud puddle on our entire property. He was just starting to cry because it was still early spring and the water was quite cold.
In that moment, I was so angry and frustrated, I wanted to scream and yell and maybe cry a little. (I was also pregnant so that may have contributed a little.) I managed to react like my mom on the outside…that time…but realized in my heart that I was not her. I would never be able to let my kids come in the house covered in mud and ask about their awesome game.
Replacing Ideas of Motherhood with Facts
It was time for me to face the facts:
I hate cooking. Or at least the cleanup part of it. While I try to prepare something 3 times a day, I’m ok with days of eating cheese and crackers for lunch.
I am a terrible gardener. I can’t even figure out how she had enough time to plant a garden that size, let alone care for it!
I love canning and drying and preserving food but a lot of that motivation comes from only getting half a shopping cart full of food for $100…when I shop sales and use coupons! (I may never understand how to perfect that art.)
I yell. Not a lot but my kids definitely don’t tremble from fear when I raise my eyebrows. That’s more of an invitation to keep it up because I am only mildly annoyed.
I get exasperated. I get annoyed. I get frustrated. Even when my oldest was a little baby, I used to wonder how anyone could ever feel any of those things toward their children. Then he grew up. And he got a brother. And I am convinced they conspire together to wear me down to the point of insanity.
I hardly sew and it’s pretty terrible when I do. (Thank goodness I don’t have any girls to ask for doll clothes!)
I get way too involved in trying to get my kids to do what I want (mostly to stay out of the mud!) when they play. I’m not laid back and easy going like I thought I would be.
But all of this doesn’t mean I don’t love or trust my children. It simply means that I am different than my mom. I am different than other moms. I am different than the mom I thought I would be.
And I’m ok with that.
Because my dad was pretty great too.
And I’m a lot like him.