If I were to measure my success as a parent by the number of things I had to remember in an average day, I would be, at best, a mediocre caregiver. You might let me walk your dog and water your plants while you were on vacation, but you probably wouldn’t let me use a spreading knife to butter little Johnny’s toast.
Today was the first bitterly cold day of the season, marking the arrival of that frigid winter we were all promised. I bundled the kids in hats, winter coats, boots and mittens (which is to say I wrestled with the baby for a full ten minutes trying to get them on his hands for more than a nanosecond. Nate laughed and pointed, in case you were wondering whose child he is.) In an unrelated thought, if you have any tips on how to fuse mittens to a screaming toddler’s hands without the use of staples, I’m all ears. So, out the door we went, with everything we needed to brace ourselves against the cold.
Everything except their snow pants.
It was the first thing my mom noticed. “Where are the boys’ snow pants?” she asked with alarm. Crappity craptastic, I thought.
“Um, I think Ben’s pants are in the closet and Nate’s…ah, I’m not 100% sure. Maybe…he doesn’t have any?” I was starting to sound like a teenager who was about to get into some serious trouble.
Needless to say, after dropping the kids off at school we both went back to our respective homes and went digging for snow pants. I tore my place apart, cursing myself the entire time. Why can’t I get anything right? Why can’t I remember anything? What kind of a parent am I? Snow pants were found and my father very graciously drove them to the school. Crisis averted - until next time.
For some reason, I couldn’t let it go. What the actual hell was my problem?
There are measured degrees of success. On the one hand are the moms who have it all together, like elusive rainbow unicorns with nice handbags. The other end of the spectrum…well, it makes me too sad to talk about really. Let’s say that just because some people give birth to humans doesn’t mean they’re innately programmed to raise them.
I’ve come to realize that I’m square in the middle of the scale. I don’t have staff. No one to clean or cook for me or help me get the kids ready in the morning or to remind me about the damn snow pants. I don’t begrudge people who do (believe me) but it makes me 100% responsible, all the time - good, bad, ugly or otherwise. There will be mistakes. The challenge then lies in not repeating them.
The other challenge is being kind to myself and moving on. Am I tired? Yes. Are our belongings distributed among several content cleaning companies across the GTA? Yes. Do I have forty loads of laundry and dishes to do? Check. Between putting my house and my life back together, things have slipped, not the least of which is my Swiss-cheese brain. I have to remind myself every.single.day. to forgive myself, let it go and move on. Tomorrow will be a better day.
“You know honey,” my mom reminded me. “The kids are fed, dressed and loved. You’re not doing too badly.” That’s high praise. I’ll take it.