Actually, I am terrified of failing my kids. Truthfully, I am terrified of failing, period. Not of the small things that have nothing to do with my character. It's only the big things, the life and death, right and wrong kinds of big things.
And, this fear leaves me paralyzed more times than not.
I feel alone, like I am the only mama in the world who has ever felt like she is completely unable to relate to her children in a real and meaningful way. I see those moments where I've lost my temper (or some other wrong) as stumbling blocks to a real relationship with my kids... Like they will forever hold it against me. Ridiculous? Yes. Very.
What does this mean, real and meaningful? I have internalized this notion that to have that deep relationship, I have to enjoy everything they enjoy; I have to spend every moment playing, or teaching, or talking, or being with my small brood...AND! I have to like ALL of those moments. Otherwise, I'm not being real. Otherwise, my relationship with each of my kids is fraudulent.
Why? Why is this the ideal that I hold myself to? Because this is the idea that we perpetuate. In our pictures. In magazines. In our social feeds. In the face that we put on for everyone else. We capture the good moments, the best ones, and display them for everyone else to see. (Guilty party right here.)
But, truthfully? I'm tired of the dichotomy. Kids are hard. MY kids are hard. They're explosive, emotional, unpredictable little beings who melt my heart one second; and, before I even catch my breath to wipe my tears away, they make me want to rip my hair out. It's messy and lovely. It's crazy and routine. It's joyful and tearful.
But, I shouldn't be terrified of this. I shouldn't be so scared of failing them that I don't even try. It's a journey.
I've realized recently that I function better when I have a purpose, when I have something tangible -- an enemy, so to speak -- to focus my attention on. Today, that enemy is a cold (that I fear is pertussis because there was a case at Chloe's school the DAY AFTER SHE STARTED). So, I threw myself totally into attack mode, filling her, Logan, and myself up on all sorts of vitamins, essential oils, and holistic immune system boosters. (Don't worry, I am calling the doctor tomorrow.)
All day long, I was thinking: what if I took that same energy to my daily life? What if I made boredom my personal enemy, and did everything I could to actively entertain my kids? Instead of just wishing they could entertain themselves for 30 minutes while I get XYZ done? Or what if I made the rocking chair my enemy and finally learned to nurse in a sling/carrier so I'm not tied to the chair all the time? Or my cleaning supplies? Or my iPhone? Or my tablet?
I've realized that I've focused on pursuits that are typically singular, lonely tasks that don't/can't involve the kids -- like paying bills, or cleaning the bathrooms. I always find myself thinking, "if I can just get _________ done, THEN I'll be able to do ________ with the kids. But, that moment, that second part, never comes.
The problem isn't them. It's me. It's my attitude. It's my type-A, perfectionistic personality. It's my drive to accomplish things on my never-ending To Do List. It's ME. This "failure to relate" problem is solely on me. Obviously.
I'm going to do something radical (for me anyway). For the next two weeks, I'm putting my phone down. I'm not going to spend hours reading health food blogs, or checking Facebook. I'm not going to obsess over cleaning the floors, or the counters. (Well, I'll TRY not to obsess.)
I'm going to read books to my children, and do art projects, and make food with them, and play games with them.
I'm going to teach Evie to roll over. And built blanket forts in the basement. And have movie nights. And snowball fights.
Throughout the last several years, I have felt this...longing. A yearning for a simpler life. And, even though I don't have all the details worked out yet, I know that it's going to mean doing more, not less.
So, that's my plan. I'll let you know if I'm successful. And, what this "simple life" actually looks like for me.