Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fish Out of Water

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
Albert Einstein

On the eve of my eldest son's seventh birthday, I am reflecting on how much my life has changed in the past seven years. How many dirty bottoms I have wiped. How many hours of sleep I have lost. How many boo-boos I have kissed. How many times I have read Goodnight Moon or sang "If Your Happy and You Know It". I am also reflecting on how as a mother I have come so far and learned so much, and yet at times I still feel so utterly clueless.

Ahhhh, motherhood. The more you know, the more you know you don't know diddly-squat!

I used to be quite successful at whatever I set out to do. School. Work. Projects. Renovations. Yeah, I was feeling pretty darn good about myself. Before I starting popping these babies out. Now I am more like...does anyone know which end is up. Seriously. Can someone point me in the right direction. Just tell me if I am getting warmer...warmer...cooler...very cold...Ok, forget it!

I really do not think that I have ever worked so hard at anything in my entire life and yet I still feel like I knew a lot more about parenting before my children were born!

This parenting gig really is a crap shoot...a guessing game. Like should I make a big deal about a certain misbehavior or just ignore it. Should I give the kids what they want (they might end up spoiled) or should I say no (they might end up feeling neglected)? Should I make them share or let them have some control over their own toys? When they get hurt, do I hug them and say "poor baby" or pat them on the back and say "You're OK, just shake it off"? At what age should they be able to effectively wipe their own bums? At what age should I let my children watch Star Wars? I could go on and on...

One of the problems with parenting is that the answers to some of these questions do not necessarily become more clear as more kids are added to the equation. For instance, when our son was 2, we were very vigilant about each and every minute of television or movies he watched. We pondered whether Blue's Clues or Dora were "developmentally appropriate" for his age. Now that we have three children we are like "Let's all watch Return of the Jedi for movie night!" And only after the monster-that-eats-people appears on the screen do we look over at our wide-eyed two year old daughter and think, "Is this too scary?" I mean, our former selves would be completely horrified!!

Albert Einstein once said the "Everyone is a Genius", but I have to admit that I don't feel like one. Being a genius and being a mother seem to be paradoxical states of being. It seems that motherhood is like a giant spotlight on my shortcomings, the parts of my character that need improvement, and the fact that I have no idea what I am doing most of the time. At times I do feel like a fish trying to climb a tree.

That might explain why one of my favorite things to do is soak in a bubble bath after the kids are asleep! Calgone take my away!! Far away. Like Hawaii or Australia.

Of course, there are still no-good-very-bad days....even in Australia. And sharks and crocodiles.

On second thought, I think I will stay right here and take me chances with my children. At least they don't bite...most of the time!


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Hope said...

I think ALL moms feel like fish with no water at some point in their lives. And by the way, where did our lives go? I get excited when I have enough time to pluck my eyebrows.

Fawnda@Fireflies and Jellybeans said...

Just when I think I have one stage of parenthood figured out my kids move into the next one! :)

It is a good way to keep us all humble!

{nicole coombs} said...

You have described exactly how I feel! I just had our 3rd baby 2 months ago. And let me tell you I have felt like I have been drowning almost every single day I came home from the hospital with that sweet baby girl. every time I think i might be getting the hang of this I start drowning again. In fact I was so close to just locking myself in the closet last night and crying myself to sleep! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one that feels like Motherhood "puts a spot light on my shortcomings" as you so perfectly stated!

Bryssy said...

Some days I just have to lower my own standards. It is what it is. I'm letting go of my perfectionist tendencies. It doesn't have to be perfect to be okay.