Motherhood is truly the greatest adventure of my life. As with any adventure you have ups and downs; good and bad. Today was a great big ball of all of these mixed together. Since my separation (and subsequent divorce) three and a half years ago, my son and I have lived with my parents. Obviously this is not a dream situation. I mean no twenty-something independent woman wants to put everything she owns in boxes and move back into her childhood bedroom. However, at the time, this was the best solution for everyone involved. I hadn't planned on staying longer than a year, but divorce recovery, the economy, and really just life itself have combined to make the situation a bit more permanent.
WARNING!! **Bad mom confession ahead**
Due to space and furniture issues, my son has not had an actual dresser to put his clothes in since we have lived here. His clothes have lived in a large laundry basket in our living room. When he was still mostly in onesies and other smaller toddler clothes, this was fine, but now that he's five, his clothes have long ago outgrown this handy little practice. I was also starting to feel pretty guilty about the whole basket thing. So today I did some rearranging in our (fairly large) bedroom and re-purposed a smaller dresser with shelves on top (which I had been using as storage/a bookshelf), and made it into a dresser for W. This turned into a great rainy day activity for he and I: unloading the books and miscellany, cleaning it up, moving it into our room, and filling it up with this clothes. We ended up turning the top shelving unit part into a makeshift entertainment center for our 13" TV and DVD player and some of our DVD's. He was SO excited to help and so proud to have his own little spot for his clothes.
Good mommy feeling. Right?
Fast-forward to a couple hours of later when I had to leave for a work-related meeting. He knew beforehand that I had to go and wasn't happy about it. He wanted to go! I knew this was a bad idea. He is five. He would have been bored out of his mind and I would have spent half the meeting trying to entertain him when I needed to be involved in what was happening. I tried to make a clean break for it when the time came. No such luck. It turned into a full-fledged meltdown, and my mother ended up having to pry him off my leg and hold on to his screaming little body while I ran out the door. Now this would have been bad enough, but when I got out to my car I had a low tire. THEN I couldn't figure out how to get the air compressor to work and had to call inside for help. This prompted my dearest son to come running out, reattach himself to my leg, and cry, "Mommy! Don't leave me! Don't leave me!"
In case you aren't following me here -- BAD mommy feeling.
So I was late for the meeting (great impression I made I'm sure), and spent the whole meeting thinking about my little man and feeling like the worst mom ever. The meeting went way longer than I had anticipated and I got home to find him sprawled out on his bed fully clothed. My mom said he ran down there the minute I left and refused to come back upstairs unless I was home. I roused him up (well, sort of), got him into his pajamas, and tucked him in. I sat on the side of his bed for awhile stroking his hair and just staring into his face for no apparent reason. I thought he was sound asleep, but even so started to say our "special words":
"I love you buddy; always and forever..." and in his little sleepy voice he finished it by saying "all the way around". It was totally one of those cheesy commercial moments, but I swear it happened! My heart just melted.
Even though I have the built in help of my parents, I am still a single mom. It. Is. Hard. I always feel like I am not giving W enough, not spending enough time with him, not giving him everything he needs. I have to work because I get absolutely no help from my ex. Because I feel bad about working and sending him to daycare all day, I try to spend as much non-work time as I can hanging out with the kiddo. THEN I feel bad because I don't really have any time for myself. THEN I feel guilty because that makes me feel selfish! It truly is a vicious cycle.
Motherhood has been the craziest, most convoluted adventure of my life. My son is by far the best thing I have ever done. I hope and pray that I am being the best mom that I can be for him, and that I am preparing him to spread his wings and fly out into the big, bright world on his own someday. There are days like today when I am not so sure that whole idea is really going so well. I just need to try and remember that I am only human and that I really am doing the best I can. As corny as it is, it might also help to keep those "special words" in mind no matter what:
... always and forever and all the way around.