I think I'm a really good mom. I'm loving, consistent, a total hug-it-out kind of modern mama. One of my (loftiest?) parenting goals is to have that kind of open-door policy in my (warm, scented-candle filled) home where all of Lily's teenaged girlfriends wanna come over, drink herbal tea, and have mad discussions around the kitchen table on any and all topics under the sun. I'll flitter around, serve organic snacks, and they'll watch me in awe as I flip my long, naturally wavy salt-n-pepper hair and strike a spontaneous-yet-complicated yoga pose against the counter. They'll stop their conversation about Ethan Frome or why cheerleading is totally lame, and ask me straight-up questions about sex, which I will answer with grace and honesty, careful to emphasize the need to love ones body before sharing it with anyone else. They'll thank me profusely, in between emphatic whispers to Lily about how totaly uber-cool her mother is.
Yeah. Like I said, it's a lofty goal. There are several flaws in that vision, of course. Mainly, I have to acknowledge the sad fact that no matter how close Lily and I are right now, there will inevitably come a time about 10 years from now, when I will become an asshole. Even if I'm a cool asshole, who did all the right things up to that point, fostering her self-assurance and self-esteem, I'll still have to be banished to MomLoserLand for a significant period of her adolescence so that she can learn to separate herself from me. I get it.
For now, I can revel in my motherly awesomeness though. Most of the time.
However. There are times, be thems rare ones, where Mommy loses her shit.
I do sometimes--albeit rarely-- crack like 2 dozen eggs on a shiny-slick grocery floor. I'm not talking about the kind of cracking that warrants a call to child protective services, or the need for a mommy-time out (ie Bellevue). Just...well, occasionally I hit my breaking point and it just feels awful. Yesterday was one of those times.
Mornings, as a general rule, suck in my house. Hectic. Exhaustified. Trying desperately to dress two people, brush two sets of teeth and hair, make lunch, maybe even iron a pair of my pants before work...I walk a tightrope between a streamlined assembly line and total chaos. Yesterday morning started around 5:30 AM. I knew I was fucked b/c the minute Lily opened her eyes she started whine-crying. She didn't get enough sleep, but refused to lay back down (where does she get this pigheadedness???)
Her bleary-eyed punching bag was, of course, me. Her toast wasn't toasy enough. She wanted to wear a summer dress ("It's 25 degrees outside!!!!" "I'll wear a SWEATER, Mama!!!"), she wanted one random ponytail sticking out of the front of her head. I just couldn't win.
By the time we swathed ourselves in outerwear and rolled into the Hyundai, my nerves were as frayed as the elastic of my pregnancy undies. I was Thanksgiving turkey. Done, baby. Then came a blood-curdling scream. Lily could not get the seatbelt of her carseat buckled over her giant faux-fur coat and all hell broke loose.
I whipped around and opened my mouth. And the voice of Bitchmother came vomiting forth like an unstoppable toxic stream. It was the kind of hair-raising loudness that made me thankful the car windows were rolled up. It was over as soon as it started, and of course what followed was immediate, wrung-the-fuck-out guilt.
Bitchmother is an incarnation of me at my very worst. She doesn't come out to play that often, but when she does, hooo, watch out. She's a lethal mixture of stressed- Kristin, sleep-deprived Kristin, where-the-fuck-is-Shawn-when-I-need-his-ass Kristin, and a little bit of my own mother's inner Bitchmother peppered in for good measure. Bitchmother isn't British, but she always sounds like she is when I recreate her for friends and family later on to demonstrate how off-the-wall I sounded when I raised my voice in a moment of weakness. Bitchmother sounds like Margaret Thatcher on a booze-fueled rampage with a tire iron.
I am not sure why I always portray myself as an angry member of British aristocracy when I replay these instances in my head or for an audience. I have nothing against the English. As a people, they are fine. My sister even does the same impression of herself when she gets upset, only her Bitchmother is a little more Lynn Redgrave than Maggie Thatcher. I really can't explain it.
Anyway, the only good thing to come out of Bitchmother's limited engagement appearance ("Thank you and good night!") was that it enabled me to take a second, breathe out, regroup, and then really have a heart-to-heart with Lil. I'm lucky that I have such a bright, engaging and well-connected little kid. We talked about what happened and I feel like we got to a good place about it. Best of all, we avoided the emergence of Bitchmother this very morning when, as we were getting in the car on the way to preschool, Lily again started writhing in her carseat like Regan in the Excorcist because she didn't like the way her scarf felt around her neck ("IT'S CHOKING ME, MAMA!!!! AAAAH!!!"), and I gently reminded her (not even through clenched teeth) that neither of us wanted to go down yesterday's road again. I then made a silly, cheesy face and said, "Mkay? MMMMMKAAAAYYYY????", crossing my eyes, pulling my hair, trying like crazy to elicit a laugh (ClownMommy trumps Bitchmother!!!)...the moment passed, and we zoomed off to start our day.
4 days ago