When the baby is born, I tell myself, I will send everyone off to school and then just sit in the sun and hold her and memorize her, all day long.
This weekend started out kind of over-scheduled, and it pretty much stayed that way. And I (barely) stayed on top of things, but then burst into tears while folding the last loads of laundry at eleven o'clock last night. My girls were sound asleep and I missed them, I'd barely been able to spend any time with them all weekend, what with appointments and open house and just for fun, an additional three-hour glucose test since I didn't do well on the first, normal one. And, you know, grocery shopping and laundry and cleaning and dance class and everything else. It wasn't a bad weekend, I don't think I neglected my children horribly or anything. Not from a reasonable, grown-up standpoint. Things have to be taken care of, chores have to be done.
But at eleven o'clock, folding all the laundry, I'm convinced that they don't see it that way. That they only see that I'm busy and they won't look back someday and think they had a good childhood, a good mother. They won't care that they had cleanclothesandhandmadebirthdaypartyinvitationsandorganichome-cookedmeals. They'll only tell their therapists that I was busy all the time, and that I callously made them clean up the giant messes they made in the playroom.
Ariel informed me the other morning, while eating her breakfast, that she was a Mama. "What do you do, then, to be a Mama?" I asked her curiously.
"Oh, like you. I teach the big kids and read them books and make dinner for them."
This is motherhood?
Last night Nessie swallowed a too-big piece of tortilla chip and ended up throwing up all over me, wailing and terrified. I held her close and comforted her, while everyone else cleaned up the vomit, and I felt guilty for holding her instead of cleaning it up, and I would have felt guilty for cleaning up while someone else comforted her, if I had chosen that.
Isn't there any choice I can make that will feel right?
If I was talking to someone else in my shoes, wouldn't I be so quick to say that children don't need constant, hovering attention, that teaching them a bit of independence is a gift you give them, that a child can feel perfectly loved when you halfway dry your soapy hands to put on a doll's dress and kiss their nose before turning back to the dishes. I would say that, and I would mean it wholeheartedly.
Joey laughed unbelievingly and took a pile of freshly folded towels out of my arms before I could drip any more tears on them. "How can you even say that? You know you're CONSTANTLY taking care of everyone, right? OF COURSE you're a good mother."
This isn't about motherhood.
I could say that motherhood is hard and I could talk about mommy guilt and all of that, but it would be branches, not roots, because what I'm really crying about is the fact that I can't possibly prove that I'm good enough, and that's what I'm desperately trying to do, really.
I don't think you can prove such a thing, not to yourself. I think you have to take it on faith ultimately. There are dozens of things I can think of that I am perfectly comfortable taking on faith, but my own self-worth? I am suddenly a skeptic, I need charts and graphs and empirical evidence.
God and something after death and soul mates and true love and a reason for everything and Narnia, I'm really fairly certain; it's all no problem. But faith in myself? That seems to be asking too much.
If I could find out why this is, if I could find the root of the root, wouldn't that be a breath-taking discovery?