Monday, November 16, 2009

I am not the perfect mother. And most of the time, that's completely fine by me. I realize that nobody is the perfect mother, really. But I think there is this idea of a perfect mother, a Platonic Ideal Mom, if you will, that many people have lurking somewhere in the cave of their minds. You know: totally selfless and yet completely put together, fun and funny, encouraging and appropriately disciplinary, calm and patient and rational, and totally in control of everything that's going on. Comes with: mini-van/SUV, fancy cell phone, highlights, organic snacks, trendy skinny jeans that totally fit because she doesn't have a smidge of baby weight left.

I fall a little more toward the "average mother barely holding it together" end of the spectrum on most days. Today was a day I drifted below that point, into the "crappy frazzled mom who's pretty lucky her kid is too young to know better" range.

It was photo day at Charlotte's preschool. And I'm so irritated with myself because I knew this was coming up, but I just...forgot to remember. I had my typical Monday morning: teach from 8-10, office hours from 10-11, real office hours from 11-11:30 because that's when students show up despite the fact that I'm not supposed to be in my office then, panicky quick-walk to my car because I'm running behind, get home with just barely enough time to get Charlotte dressed and do something with her hair, nurse Sam, throw my stuff in my bag, toss some food down my craw, kiss Jeff hand off Sam and out the door we go! Whew.

And then when we walked into Charlotte's preschool, I saw that there was a little lighted backdrop area and cameras set up in the gym, and I saw all the other little kids be-ringleted and wearing their Sunday best, and I felt...well, horrible and guilty and suddenly frazzled and unkempt.

The thing is, the pictures will probably be pretty cute anyway. Sure, her hair is a little crazy (we were sporting a favorite look of Charlotte's that we call "bunny ears"--basically two ponytails holding the top part of her hair out of her face) and I might have selected a different outfit (although the sweater she had on is pretty cute), but she seemed relaxed and unfazed by the fact that it was photo day and we hadn't prepped her ahead of time. And she is only three, for crying out loud, so it's not like she noticed or cared that most of the other girls in her class had on floofy dresses.

But when I was driving away after dropping her off, I was so upset I started crying (dangerous behind the wheel, people. If you see a 2001 silver Subaru Forester piloted by a weeping blonde woman, I'd take the next exit). I called Jeff and told him what had happened, what I'd done (*drama*), and he seemed unconcerned, and in fact a little irritated that I was bothering him with such a trivial concern. Of course, this is the man who routinely dresses his daughter in outfits like this one, so grain of salt &etc.

But the thing is, sometimes I want to be...well, not Perfect Mother, but somewhere closer to Relaxed and Pretty Good Mom, as opposed to Last-Minute and Barely Okay Mom, which is how I feel most days. I know I am putting most of this pressure on myself. But there are times when I feel like I'm not doing as good of a job as Charlotte and Sam deserve.


Dale Deur said...

At least you're not psycho overbearing mom whose child MUST LOOK PERFECT AT ALL TIMES OR WHATEVER SHALL THEY SAY ABOUT ME and then turns out a kid who needs therapy for the rest of his/her life.

Jeff said...

You're an Awesome Mom, and what I recall feeling when you called was not irritation but more a flippant and even proud defiance -- or maybe a proud and even defiant flippance? -- that we weren't playing the doll-em-up for the pretty-pretty picture game.

Miz Jean said...

Charlotte is such a doll I am sure her pictures will be just as cute as can be! But I still identify with your "drama". I spend so much time on myself on Sunday mornings and I just slap a bow in Reagan's hair. When I sit down and look over at her I am ashamed of how selfish I was/am and chastise myself for not working harder to make her hair look nicer. Sigh.

Audrey said...

Charlotte is adorable, despite floofy dresses and big hair. She has plenty of time for both of those things! Don't sweat it. It happens to the best of us. :)

megs said...

I think the story that will now be associated with the picture (once you can laugh more and cringe less) is worth the brief feeling of FAIL.

Chin up, miss.

Jean Walker said...

Quit beating yourself up. As a lower elementary teacher and a mother who has been through many school pictures let me give you some advice. Who Cares what they wear? All you see is mid chest up. So these little girls come to kindergarten in floofy dress and tights and fancy shoes, that you don't even see in the picture, and they spend the rest of the day crawling around on the flower and running outside at recess in floofy dresses. It doesn't make sense. You can send your child in sweat pants and colorful or cute top and their pictures will still look great because when you look at the picture you're looking at their face and a hopefully cute smile that displays their personality as you know it. That's what you want in a picture.

Jennifer said...

Is it missing the point to think that you must be an awesome mom because you can throw out phrases like "Platonic Ideal Mom?"

Charlotte's pictures turned out pretty cute.