As “Bad Parenting Moments”, I love to explore, exploit and enjoy the humor of parenthood. This is my “shit just got REAL” post for the month. I’ll return to the funny next week. I promise! xo – Debbie Downer
When I was a little girl, I went through the normal line-up of prospective careers: Rainbow Brite, Princess, Veterinarian, Doctor, Lawyer, President, Ballerina, Actress on, “Hey Dude!”. The usual. Then, I grew up. Well, I partially grew up. I did well in school. I was fortunate to be given a scholarship to college. Before college, I narrowed down my career choices: Lawyer and Rainbow Brite. Sadly, UGA did not offer advanced degrees in Rainbow Brite or the option to minor in riding horned unicorns over rainbows. Hey, no school is perfect. I settled for pre-law. My freshman year was a disaster. A total disaster. I was a mess. I was immature. I was afraid. I did not know who I was or what the hell I was doing. I was 18. I would like to say that somewhere deep down inside of me, where I knew I could be and do whatever I wanted, that I channeled my inner She-Ra and pulled through. Not the case. After a year of failing, I failed myself and quit. The broken pieces of my paper bag princess hopped a Greyhound bus from Georgia to Los Angeles, California (another blog for another time) and I never…ok, I rarely looked back. I started working and built an excellent career. I started at the bottom and worked my way up the “old fashioned” way. I met a boy, fell in love, had lots of babies, moved to a small town in New England and put my ideas of what I thought I wanted to be on the back burner of the extra stove you keep in the basement. What I wanted to be when I grew up was irrelevant. I was living the dream. Happy, healthy family. My greatest career? Mom, of course! Babies and joy and chaos. There was no time to examine the 18 year old I was or the Poet/Lawyer/Warrior Princess she wanted to be, but, who cared. I. Was. Living. The. Dream.
I have written about this before. The quiet need of a mother to find and/or retain who she is amidst the joy and chaos of parenthood. I write about it because I have no earthly idea how to manifest this idea in real life. A mother finds little outlet in the day to day, in the “thick” of parenting to nourish herself, EXCEPT, through the growth, happiness and nourishment of her children. That is spectacular and gratifying, but, is it enough? I don’t know.
Some would label me unhappy or ungrateful for even having this thought. Guess what, I am scared to have that thought. What kind of mother am I if I say, in print, that being a mother may not nourish every fiber of my being to satisfaction. What if, I dare to say that I may need my own childhood dreams of being my own super hero fulfilled outside of the confines of “mom”? And, my biggest fear, what if I am not the best mother I can be because I do not know who I am outside of their mother. What if I fail them like I failed at 18. Because, like stepping into the world at 18, I am afraid and, on most days, I still do not know who I am or what the hell I am doing.
Here is the difference; my complete, heartbreaking love for my children will not allow me to quit. They make me want to truly examine the desires I have to become not just their mother, but, a woman they can be proud of. In quiet moments, I imagine my adult relationships with my children. In all of these imagined scenarios, they are always happy. We are always laughing. I do not know if they will be ballerinas, doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, paleontologists, Broadway actors, college grads or college drop-outs. Are they happy? Are they fulfilled? Do they know who they are? Do they know that it is never too late to figure out who you want to be in the world?
And, what’s next for me? Well, it is never to late to figure out who you want to be in the world. I don’t owe Rainbow Brite or college for that piece of truth. I owe my children for that life lesson.