Not what I pictured

I’m not the mother I thought I’d be.

I don’t enjoy getting my hands dirty or sticky, so I’m not really interested in fingerpainting or playing with Play-doh and I don’t want to spend all day coloring.

Too much of my thinking is overrun by have-tos. I have to do the laundry, I have to cook dinner, I have to clean up from dinner. When I do sit down and snuggle and get down on the floor with them, I’m never sorry. But the have-tos don’t go away. They loom bigger and bigger and I’m overwhelmed.

I had a romantic notion of what being a mother would be. I thought about the snuggles and the kisses and the children in cute outfits, behaving in church, being polite and pleasant in stores.

I didn’t think of the grubby hands, the crayons on the walls, the sunscreen in the hair, the endless nagging and begging for anything and everything, the junk food crushed on the kitchen floor, the missing pens, and having to hide the scissors. I didn’t think of the graphing calculator that I really need that would suddenly go missing because of a curious four-year-old — and my husband WARNED me that she’d disappear with it but I didn’t listen… I didn’t think of the vegetables that will rot in the fridge because suddenly no one will eat green things except for me. I didn’t think of the flooded laundry room and the stained carpet and the piles and piles of nasty laundry. I didn’t think of the fights about what to wear to school, about what to watch on television, about brushing hair. I didn’t think of frantic searches for one missing ballet slipper or the banning of all things fruit juice after several times too many of mopping the kitchen floor. I didn’t think of a lot of things.

Before I had kids, I had this idyllic picture in my head about what kind of a parent I would be: always attentive, always loving, always calm, always caught up with the mundane parts of life so that I could treasure every second with my children. After all, I could juggle a full-time job and a house and a theatre rehearsal schedule with ease — how much harder could it be? And I judged people who weren’t the kind of perfect parent that I would be.

I feel like I need to apologize to a whole lot of people.