For many, many years I felt guilty about something. It was a secret that I shared with only my closest compadres. The dark secret was this: I didn’t feel comfortable in the role of motherhood. The idea of being a mom scared the woman out of me. This is natural, you may be saying. How about this? Even after I became a mom, I didn’t feel comfortable in the role of mother.
You see, before I had my firstborn, I was woefully undomesticated. I had to learn a ton about keeping a house through trial and error, and pulling my hair out, and sitting in corners staring in disbelief. To top off this new life of responsibility, I was a full-time college student. So imagine my dismay when I discovered that I was pregnant; just when I’d started getting a grasp of things.
I had, up to that point, never changed a single diaper. Never held a new baby. Or a fairly new one. Never had any real desire to actually ever hold a baby. I checked my feelings. As women we are always told that the instinct will come. They -the confident ones- always make it sound as if you were split in half and the other half of you would one day show up at your door, packing in her suitcase the part of you that wants to be a mom, and you’ll greet her with open arms. And you will be complete. Because, of course, something is missing at present.
So I checked my feelings and nothing. But surely, after I had my son I expected that the surge of mom juice would intermingle with my stale old brain juice and I will feel like a natural mother. I may be mistaken, but it doesn’t seen that people expect fathers to instantly feel naturally fatherly. Of course, some fathers do, and get no credit for it. Anyhow, I relished when my kids were sleeping. Yes, this is normal. But when my son was an infant, him falling asleep on me meant that I would not move from my location for hours to ensure that he didn’t wake up. The same was true later for my daughter. Now, I loved them both with all the cells in my body. However…
As they got older, I was the mom who forgot to pack water bottles or snacks. I was the one mom not saying how much I missed my kids when they were away at school. I was the mom who wasn’t sacrificing the gym or my hobbies for the sake of my children. I was the mom who caught her child two inches from the ledge. I felt, quite often, like the weirdo mom. What happened to those instincts I was supposed to be bestowed with? I grew instincts; I wasn’t endowed with them. And that’s okay. If I’m a good mom then who cares how I got there, right?
I like to think that my lack of heightened sensitivity allowed them a childhood of more carefree exploration and confidence-building then were I to be on their heels and attentive to every footstep. Naturally, there is a middle ground. All I mean is that if I had to choose, I’d let them eat dirt.
There’s the type of parent that imagines that their child will be the one kid on the playground that will ingest a parasite from eating dirt. Then comes the doctor’s bills.
Then there’s the type of parent who could never imagine that their child would be the one to catch the parasite. Secretly they think, “Only dorks get parasites. My kid ain’t no dork.
So obviously, if your kid is a dork, you love him all the same and keep him out of the dirt pile. In education we call that differentiated instruction.
Don’t listen to the hype. Motherhood, parenthood, is amazing. Do the very best that you can and sleep soundly at night. Afterall, we aren’t this lady.