Confessions from the old woman who lived in the shoe
by Carolyn Wyler
Mother’s Day has come and gone for another year, but the emotional feelings from that day live on long after the “holiday.” Like Debra DeAngelo wrote recently, up until my mom passed away three years ago, I too spent a long time in the card aisle at the store sifting through cards to find the appropriate one to give to my mother.
It’s no secret that I’ve never liked Mother’s Day. At first, it was just about trying to find that perfect gift my mother would love and not end up taking back to the store to exchange for something more to her liking. When I became a mom, Mother’s Day became more about my expectations… errr… or should I say lack thereof? I really didn’t want anyone feeling obliged to do something special for me just because someone somewhere decided to make an entire day celebrating mothers. I wasn’t always certain that I really deserved special treatment.
It doesn’t take a college education. You don’t need a ton of money (though it could help). You don’t have to be an expert. You could even still be a child yourself. Before you know it, you find yourself trying to raise a miniature human who cries, poops, and pees on you, demands your constant attention and calls you mommy. In a blink of an eye, you’re an old woman who lives in a shoe surrounded by four children and five stepchildren and you don’t have a clue how you got there or what you’re supposed to do.
But you find a way to do it anyway, albeit sometimes poorly. Let’s see now, I think I read somewhere that I was supposed to “give them some broth without any bread, and whip them all soundly and send them to bed.” Oh wait, maybe I’m getting my expert advice on child-rearing confused with nursery rhymes.
Every year, you’re accosted by another Mother’s Day and you find yourself comparing yourself to other moms. Some seem to be able to do it all: PTA, soccer, football, drama, classroom and ballet. Or you see moms skipping through the mall, hand in hand with their daughters, licking ice cream cones, laughing at each other’s jokes as they shop for clothes before they head off to get a manicure/pedicure together. Are those people even real?
Then your kids grow up and move out of the house. As you watch from a distance, you see them struggling with issues as an adult that could possibly be related to situations or idiotic decisions YOU made when they were growing up. You start wishing you could call “do-over’s “and go back and make different choices that just possibly make things a little better for them now.
But there is no such thing as “do-overs” in life. That’s why I became a little sympathetic to all the children who lived in that shoe and I decided to list some of my old woman confessions.
1. I really do love my children.
2. There were some days, when even though I love my children, I didn’t always like them (and I’m sure the feelings are/were sometimes mutual). But I could never imagine a life without them.
3. Though I thought I was prepared, ready and desirous of being a mom, I really didn’t have a clue how to be one. (I was just barely out of my teens when I had my first child).
4. I really want my kids to like me.
5. There is a lot about being a mom I am still learning even though all of my kids are now out of the house.
6. I am not, never was, nor ever will be perfect .
7. I was often overwhelmed and took on way more than I could handle.
8. I never had a chance to be a stay at home mom and now that the kids are grown and out of the house, that is what I really want to be.
9. More than anything, I want my kids to be happy.
10. Sometimes I use to grind up broccoli, squash or other veggies in the blender and mix it in with the spaghetti sauce to get my kids to eat their vegetables. Shhhh!
11. I tell each one of my kids separately that they are my favorite.
12. I am an intelligent, confident and outgoing person, trapped in a shy insecure (afraid of being called or thought of as stupid) body that just really wants people to like her (see number 4).
13. I made and still make poor decisions and choices in my life (see numbers: 5 and 6).
14. When my kids are unhappy, I am unhappy.
15. I can be wrong (see number 6).
16. I never intentionally mean to hurt anyone.
17. When I taught my kids to swim, I had them jump into the pool and swim to me, but as they swam towards me I’d keep moving back a little farther so they’d have to push themselves to swim a bit farther.
18. I lied to them and told them Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny were real.
19. When the kids were little and had too many toys, I would take some of them, hide them for several months until Christmas, re-wrap them and when they re-unwrapped them, lo and behold, they were all excited about their new toys. (I lived on less than a grand a month and many of their clothes and toys I bought at garage sales).
20. If I wasn’t crazy before I had kids, I possibly (though have not been officially diagnosed) could be now.
21. I always want everyone to get along. I am a people-pleaser, but trying to please everyone doesn’t work.
22. I am very proud of my children.
And my last confession,
23. When I see my kids hurting or struggling then or now, I always want to do whatever I can to help them. But I know that sometimes the “help” I want to give them wouldn’t really help them grow, learn or figure out some things that they need to learn on their own. And that’s very hard for me. (See numbers: 1, 4, 9, 14, and 21).