I think about her, the other mother. She wakes me up sometimes, mocking me in the small hours. She’s the mother who says yes, before anything else, to her children. She says yes she will play, yes she will read, yes she will bake, yes she will, yes. I am not that mother.
I think about how I could be her, the other mother. I write about being her, from time to time, listing all the things I would do. I’d stop tidying the house because it means delaying building a Lego zoo. I’d stop asking my husband to take the children to the park for a while so I can get some paperwork done. I’d stop spending hours preparing for next week, instead of enjoying the one we’re in.
I write about saying yes, about being spontaneous, about doing whatever my babies want and following their lead. I write about making the most of each second and not letting precious moments pass without appreciating them fully. I dream about being that mother.
She is the mother who says the dusting can wait; it’s time to play. She is the mother who doesn’t mind about the Play-Doh colors being mixed up. She is the mother who doesn’t shout orders at 7 a.m. when the children still don’t have their shoes on and we are all going to be late.
I’m not that mother. I wish, really I do, that I could let things go a little. I wish I could not worry for a day whether or not they’ve eaten all their lunch while I was at work. I wish I could, sometimes, not demand a minute-by-minute update of what they did while I wasn’t with them. I wish I could, sometimes, not worry about their jeans getting wet and whether they’ve got a spare set of clothes or not.
I am not that mother. Instead, I’m uptight, I’m overly concerned about getting it all wrong, I’m unable to ignore the little things and focus on the bigger picture, I let stress get to me, and I raise my voice and become short-tempered when really there is no need. I want so damn much to be perfect for them that I’m not that mother who is, actually, the mother they need because of her imperfections.
I want, really, to let the guilt go. I am not that mother though. The one who turns her back on what she should do or could do or doesn’t want do. Instead, I’m wasting time folding laundry and batch-cooking soup while my son is waiting for me to play dinosaurs. I know it’s all wrong. I wish I could let it go. But I can’t. I’m not that mother.