family life, women

Mothering fails

“A suburban mother’s role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car for ever after.” Peter DeVries, American satirist

Oh, for the days when I actually knew what I was doing as a mother. I would go into a grocery store, see a toddler with orange popsicle smeared on her face and give a silent tsk-tsk at the mother. Or, I would read a newspaper account about a toddler running off while mom or dad slept. “What is their problem?” I would wonder.

Then, I had children.

We actually had to install strings of bells on both the front and back doors of our house to keep one of our daughters corralled during her toddlerhood. Once, when my back was turned in the garden, she made an epic break for it. “She’s on the loose,” her older sister yelled. Fortunately for us all, the errant one’s little legs could only keep up Olympic-sprinter speed for so long. I caught up with her in a mere quarter of a mile. (This daughter now runs track…)

There were also not only dirty shirt fronts and faces that occasionally made it out into public view, I sent one daughter to kindergarten with her jeans on backwards. I didn’t notice until she came bouncing out on the playground at the end of the day with a zipper running up her backside.

Then, there was the trio of broken bones in just over a year. One broken arm acquired on a playground while I was about five feet away. One broken leg acquired dancing around on the hardwood floors of our own house. The last, another arm break, happened during a school gym class. Witnesses, thank God. People were probably starting to wonder.

“Is something wrong with them?” I asked our pediatrician. I was referring to the girls’ bones. Mostly. He smiled. He has four children, two of them twin boys. “They’re just … active,” he replied and smiled again. By “active,” we both knew he meant, “mountain wild.”

And, so it has gone. I’ve had some failures as a mom. We’ve had tears, raised voices — and moments of camaraderie I didn’t know could exist. By the grace of God, our daughters are not only still alive, they’re lovely young ladies who no longer go around with dirty faces, uncombed hair or backwards pants. I must have done something right.

For all you other moms, you have, too, no matter what today’s circumstances might try to tell you. An early Happy Mother’s Day to us all!

19 thoughts on “Mothering fails”

    1. 🙂 Well, I don’t know about fantastic, but we’re still on speaking terms even though they’re teens. Your family is lovely, as well. Blessed all around, we are.

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  1. We had our Mothering Sunday already, a moveable date in the English church calendar which this year happily coincided with my youngest grandson’s first birthday, they live 180 miles away so it was good they came to stay and we all went out to lunch; he and his three year old brother didn’t wreck the restaurant. But at our house it takes a week of preparation before they come to stay and still my daughter and son-in-law find things we have forgotten to lock up or hide away. I don’t mind because I remember only too well what our three were like and the nightmare of visiting relatives’ homes; sweeping round putting their pills and tablets up high, moving their ornaments! I did have a friend when mine were little who said of her three year old ‘I just tell Phillip not to touch and he doesn’t.’ Much to my satisfaction her next boy was less compliant!

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    1. 🙂 Comeuppance is inevitable!

      Congrats on an uneventful lunch. Our kids were mostly good in public, except for one time. Our oldest had a full melt down in a bank. I left, holding the baby in one arm (the toddler’s sandals dangling from my fingers) and dragging a kicking, screaming, barefoot toddler with my other arm. I plan to share this story with her own children someday.

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  2. What a lovely post, Nora! I doubt there’s a mom out there who hasn’t felt a failure, or guilty, at some point, especially when our children were small. The only differences are our stories. We’ve had Mother’s Day in the UK, but wish you a very happy one. I’m sure your children will show their love & appreciation for being such a great mom! 😊

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