I spend a lot of my days as a mom feeling inadequate. I don't know if I really am inadequate - I won't know that until my kids are grown up and talking to their therapists about their childhoods - but I feel it. I feel like a failure a lot of the time, broken only by small glimmers of getting it right for a moment in time.
I watched my bigger boys in a wave pool at a water park last week. They loved the waves. They weren't trying to surf them or swim past them, they were not afraid, they just let the waves bob them up and down, relaxing into the movement of the water. I think most days motherhood is a lot like living in a wave pool. At some point you realize you are in way over your head and have no hope of getting out of the constantly hammering waves so you do the only thing you can which is to relax and let the waves flow around you. And as you bob around in the pool of dirty clothes, making s'mores, dirty dishes, long summer days, bickering brothers, trips to the beach, and whining, you can feel the joy in just being in the pool.
Knowing that all of the negatives come with a positive attached. Dirty laundry from three boys who had a fun day at camp. Dirty dishes from meals we ate at home together. Bickering brothers who were just minutes ago pretending together that they were dragons in a make believe world (that looked an awful lot like their bedroom to me). Days at the beach full of hours of play leading to sun kissed, exhausted little boys that whine on the walk back to the car.
But there are days when I am overwhelmed by my failures. Overwhelmed to the point of tears. I know that I am failing my kids, that I am not enough and that sometimes I choose not to be enough. I get tired of the whining, the noise.
I am harsh.
I just want to be left alone.
I wonder if I should have ever become a mom.
I never wonder if I my kids should have been born because even in their yuckiest moments, they are still pretty amazing. They are constant reminders that though they share the same gender and the same parental dna options, they are uniquely made. As the Veggie Tales say, "God made them special and He loves them very much."
Which is a good thing because I am not sure my love is enough. I am not sure I love them enough.
I am selfish. I want to sleep. I want to have quiet moments in my day to read, to think, to have a conversation with another adult. These seem reasonable enough but I want more.
I want time to watch that trashy reality show. I want time to play that game on Facebook. I want time to read the funny posts on Twitter.
See, I am inadequate. And I don't say that looking for a pep talk. I know intellectually that I am doing okay. I know intellectually that every good choice I make for my kids means I have to say no to some other good choice for them.
Free time for their imaginations to grow and their brains to problem solve means we don't have time for music lessons and language classes.
Allowing the two hockey players to follow their self chosen passion and play competitive hockey means we cannot let them explore all the other extracurricular options out there.
Birthday parties that conflict with swim lessons.
Bringing them up in the church, praying with them, reading the Bible with them, giving them our faith means that they may get weird messages about God from us.
Gaining my own sanity at the cost of them having too much video game time, which they love by the way, is just another example of the give and take of parenting.
So yes, I know intellectually that I am trying hard to do the best by my kids. But I also know that I am not giving it my best, at least not at any given moment. I know I could do better. And I know I choose regularly to take the easy way out.
And I feel inadequate. Most of the time.
Sometimes I feel like an outright failure.
And then they go to camp for the morning and I love the quiet, I love the work I am able to do, I love being alone, and I feel guilty because all I want is more.
This parenting thing is hard. That's all I'm saying.