Saturday, February 19, 2011

Why I love being imperfect

I really wanted to be the perfect mom.  Perfect house, clean car (oh my!), kids' clothes that matched and didn't have blueberry hand-prints down the front, and other mythological pipe dreams. 

Instead, our living room looks like a tornado spun through it...I still haven't unloaded all the groceries from 2 days ago...and my children ate peanut butter sandwiches in front of a RedBox movie tonight while I crashed in front of Law and Order in the other room, eating a microwave turkey pot pie.  I have especially low standards when Steve is gone for the weekend.

But y'know...my flawed motherhood has its benefits.  We were categorically exhausted tonight because we'd had a full day of co-op yesterday... then in the evening, I taught at the college while the kids had a movie night at Casey's until 10pm...  then we all woke up early this morning to drive 50 miles (no that's not a typo) for Jack to attend the W&M robotics class, a highlight of his week.  Two hours with the Littles at the park with friends, while Jack was in class. Then finding out there was a miscommunication on the time and we'd missed Samuel's birthday party at the karate studio (deep deep sadness!), so instead we had a playdate-with-cupcakes at his house instead.  

At the end of all this? We had a trip-to-hell visit to the store, when I needed to pick up a few things.  Perhaps it's because it was kicked off by seeing Paula and the kids, which means my kids were ECSTATIC and spent the rest of the time at the store coming down from the high.  The cupcakes likely didn't help things, either.  ;) But we (okay, they) spent the next 15 minutes poking bottles, jumping up and down, coming precariously close to large displays of...whatever.  Much chaos.  Many muttered comments to my children that won't sound that great written out. :) 

We got back in the car, I sighed my "uh-oh-mom-is-pissed" sigh and I said: "That trip did not make me happy.  I'm glad you've had so much fun this last day or so.  We've done some great things.  But that doesn't work for me if the ONE time I'm needing cooperation to do boring things, this is how we're listening. That was not showing kindness or respect, and I'm pretty frustrated right now." 

An hour or so later, back at home, I see Simone's little blonde head peer around the corner.  And then, with an adult-like look of contemplation, she said:  "I'm sorry I wasn't very quiet in the store today.  I was really hyper.  I'm sorry about that."  And then came over and crawled in my lap to hug me.

Dear God, I love these little animals. 

In all honesty, I'm not really sure that being the Perfect Mom would have worked in the end anyway.  Not just my inability to achieve that.  But also, is that even the lesson I want to teach?  Or would I rather teach them that we'll fall on our faces sometimes...argue...be crabby...be hyper  in the aisles of the store?  And then peer around the corner and ask for forgiveness?

In truth, isn't that the more useful life skill?  

Having to be perfect because we don't know HOW to be imperfect...well...that just sounds stressful.  

Tucking all three into bed tonight, I knew we needed to re-connect.  I snuggled each of them individually and talked a bit about our day.  I said to Jack: "I feel like I have a lot to apologize for today.  I wasn't as patient as I want to be."  And with this peaceful voice of confidence, Jack said: "I have a lot to apologize for, too. But... we still always love each other."

I think I'm in love with my imperfection.  Maybe not at the scene of the crime.  I can't think of many emotions more caustic than failing my children.  But the process of it.  How we ebb and flow in connection to each other, but always have this foundation of absolute and complete love.  

I love that my 6-year-old understands that we can have Not That Great moments with each other, but find each other on the other side.  

Hopefully, his future wife will be thankful I messed things up so often. ;)