I've been off today. I think my girly time is around the corner. I've just been emotional all day long. It's been one of those days where I question and second guess everything that I do. It's been one of those days that I ask God WHY He thinks I'm the perfect person to parent these three angels he entrusted to me. I've been really discouraged as a mom for a few days now. I wonder if I'm ruining my kids beyond repair (ahem, can we say therapy bills?????).
Tonight I took the kids to Chic Fil A for dinner. Another tired mom sat across from me. She had 4 boys. Her older 3 were the exact ages as my 3 boys and then she had a toddler. You could see the tired etched in her face and hear the loneliness in her voice when she struck up a conversation with me. "You have all boys too?" I totally didn't feel like being social. But I also know that look, the one that begs "Please tell me that I'm not the only one who feels like my life is spinning out of control right now!"
We talked for a while. Her husband has been away on business. She was cooped up in the house all weekend during our blizzard with 4 kids and no husband. He used to travel more often. He used to travel to China and would be gone for 3-5 weeks. And this time should have been a breeze because he was only gone 5 days. He comes home tomorrow. She had gotten out of the routine of having him traveling often and this time just seemed overwhelming to her. I had no judgement for this tired mamma making the best of what she had. Our kids played, sometimes beautifully, sometimes needing to be reminded that ninja moves in a tiny play area are not ok because someone will probably get hurt.
While we talked, my baby came out crying. The kid in the red shirt pushed him down and told him he couldn't have a turn on the slide. I looked hesitantly over my shoulder to see her relieved and shaking her head. None of her boys were wearing red, it wasn't her kid. We kept socializing. My middle comes out crying that the boy in the red shirt is calling him a nerd. Yeah, that was the evening. The red shirt bully wouldn't leave them alone. He was either verbally or physically antagonizing them the entire time.
I'm not a politically correct mom. I thought I knew that already but I didn't. In the car on the way home I got the whole story. It involved a plea for niceness, a demand for an apology and finally chasing the red shirt bully down, cornering him and making him kiss one of my kids feet. Now mind you, I had not heard this while it was going on and this was the after news. I had to stifle a laugh to hear my sweet middle son tell this story. He was so animated. My response? Uh, did I mention that I'm not very politically correct? I told him I bet that kid will think twice before he pushes a younger kid down again and I bet he never calls anyone a nerd ever again. Wrong answer?
I didn't think so but I had them retell the story to Hubby just to make sure. I had the benefit of masking my laughter while driving facing away from my kids at night. Hubby no such luck. He tried so hard to keep a straight face. And finally we both cracked and laughed together. So I posted on FB. Less detail. More criticism. I was hurt to tears by the judgement I received. My feelings of the past days must have been right, God was slightly confused when He chose me of all the women in the world to parent these boys. Someone else would have taught them how to react with just words and no smack down. But I was also really hurt that the criticism came from someone who hates when she is criticized by someone who doesn't know all the facts. It would have been easy to judge my fellow mom tonight at the restaurant, but instead I listened to her story. I heard her exhaustion. I heard her questioning if she was doing right by her kids. I could empathize. Why wasn't I given the same kindness I had just given to someone else?
My husband and friends went to battle for me, all so much nicer than I would have been if I had handled it on my own. They defended me without ever attacking her. The evening got better. And then my oldest came up the stairs (he was supposed to be sleeping) just to say, "Mom, I just wanted to tell you that I love you!" And there it hit me.
I am a damn good mom. I love my boys with every fiber of my being and they know it. I won't let them hide behind mean words or hurtful actions. But I will support them when they stand up for themselves and each other. I'm a good enough mom that my kids felt safe in telling me that they had fought back. I'm a good enough mom that even though I had been a little sharp with the kids most of the evening, they still all wanted me to cuddle with them at bedtime and my oldest wanted me to stay to talk for a while. I'm a good enough mom that my kids feel safe enough to tell me when they hate me, they know I'll love them anyway and tell them that it's ok because I love them enough for both of us. I'm a good enough mom because my boys know I'd drop anything to be there for them when they need me. I'm a good enough mom to give consequences, even when it means disciplining me as well (no video games today for such and such behavior hurts me at least as much as them). I'm a good enough mom to follow through on the consequences I do give out. And I'm a good enough mom to say I'm sorry, I was wrong, will your please forgive me when I blow it. I'm a damn good mom and God knew exactly what He was doing when He paired me with these three completely different personalities and asked me to take care of His children for a while. And it took someone pointing to my insufficiencies as a parent for me to be able to see that even though I'm far from perfect, I am indeed a good mom.