Sometimes, I’m the coolest mom ever. In the park, crazy eight kids with me. Sure, climb the trees. Get naked and swim in the fountain. Um, yeah, you can touch a dead fish… but maybe not with your tongue. The coolest mom ever. Especially when:
Flora: Mooooom! Moxie just face-planted off the tree and she thinks she broke her nose! Don’t worry, Moxie–if you broke your nose, my Mom will know exactly what to do. She’s had her nose broken three times.
Moxie: Three times?
And behind her, the chorus from four boys: “Three times? Really?”
Really. I bask in my coolness and awesomeness.
But lots of time–I’m the lamest, meanest mom ever. You know the one. No, you CANNOT throw rocks at the wasps’ nest are-you-in-fucking-sane? No freezies in the house. No, I’m not going to get you ice cream. Get off the computer and run outside before you have another fit. No, like RIGHT NOW. NOW! Stop! Don’t do that! Clean that up. For Keer-ist’s sake, put that away. What did you do? GAAAAAH! No. No. No. NOOOOOOO!
The moments that make me feel the worst, of course, aren’t the moments that they resent the most in the moment. I mean–they cannot throw rocks at the wasps’ nest. I’m not at all conflicted about telling them that. It’s that other stuff…
“Can you play cars with me now?”
“No, I have to [insert chore of the moment here].”
… all those variants of daily “I can’t,” or worse, “I don’t want to.” I mean… I could play Small World right now. I could read Danny Dragonbreath aloud for the seventh time. I could stop what I’m doing and go do the thing you’re asking me to do… I could. I could.
I don’t want to.
Some days, some weeks, some months–there are more of those moments than in others, aren’t there? Of course. That’s just the way it is. But today, at this moment, I let go of the guilt that seems to be such a constant companion in motherhood. And this is why:
Ender: Daddy! Oh, Daddy! You have a horrible owie. What happened? Did a bee bite you?
Sean: Um… where? Oh. Oh. No, not a bee.
Ender: Well, I did not bite you there.
Sean: I know you didn’t.
Ender: Did Cinder bite you? Or Flora?
Ender: Well, if Cinder did not bite you, and Flora did not bite you, and I did not bite you, who bit you?
Sean: Maybe Mommy bit me.
Ender: But Mommy is wonderful. She would never, ever, ever hurt any of us.
Mommy is wonderful.
There’s my judgement, my metric. And tomorrow, maybe I’ll be lame and mean. But maybe cool and awesome. Maybe I’ll yell, be impatient. Or maybe I’ll sit on the floor and play cars for two hours with the Ender, and braid Flora’s hair into 12 little braids, and let Cinder whoop my ass at Small World. Or, maybe I’ll be claimed by the kitchen, a deadline, a disaster. Whatever. Life happens.
Ender thinks I’m wonderful. And would never ever hurt him.