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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Bad Mom Moments Change Over Time

When my kids were little, we had plenty of 'bad mom' moments. The kind of moments when your heart leaps right out of your chest because your child has done something so totally dangerous while on your watch that you can't believe anyone would allow you to parent. For example, there was the time the Girl hung from the dining room chandelier when she was about 20 months old. And what did I do? I photographed it while my friend Jean looked on in horror. Because I'm obviously a very bad mom.

There was the time I lost the Boy in the Monterey Bay Aquarium and had to have the entire aquarium closed until we found him... in the gift shop behind the counter checking out the videotapes. Sigh. Yeah, that was a very bad mom moment.

Once I totally forgot to pick up the Girl after a half day at school. I completely spaced out that it was a half day, and just didn't show up. She waited and waited for me, and finally went back into the school and had the office call me at work. They were very nice, but my kid was really angry at me and how could I give the excuse "I forgot". It was a terribly bad mom moment that I still haven't really recovered from. I felt like a total failure after that one.

Well, I did it again today. The Girl must have told me 5 times that she was babysitting after school, and yet I completely forgot. The Boy got home late due to an after-school club, and asked where his sister was. Um, I didn't know. I had no freaking clue. I didn't worry, because she's very good about calling, but by 4:30 I was getting really antsy. I called her friend that she usually visits after school and the friend had no idea where she was. But as I was talking to her, I remembered that the Girl was babysitting. Yup, another bad mom moment. Which doesn't seem like such a huge deal but the Boy has pretty severe anxiety issues and he starting getting very agitated. I couldn't really soothe his anxieties until I remembered where she was. I suck.

The difference between when they were smaller and now is that my foibles are totally obvious to my kids now. As almost adults, they see the mistakes I make and the forgetfulness I often exhibit and I can feel their disapproval and disappointment in me. It's so guilt provoking. It makes me feel even worse than I already do.

I miss the oblivousness of young children. Children that still believe that their mom is the best mom in the world, and can't do any wrong. That felt good, except of course when they got mad at me and screamed "I hate you". Yeah, that wasn't too cool.

Right now, things are home are kind of unsettled. The kids aren't getting along very well much of the time and are really provoking each other for fun. It's horribly annoying. Plus, the Boy is having a very hard time regulating on his medications and we keep tweaking his meds every few weeks, desperately trying for the perfect combination. So far, it's been a very rough road. When he has meds issues, he tends to become very very difficult to live with. He has way too much anxiety and extra energy. He paces and cracks his knuckles over and over. It is very hard for me to remain calm when he's pacing the floors, throwing things, and in general acting like he's 3.

I know that this isn't my fault. He has a neurological disorder and nothing I did caused it, and very little that I can do will change that fact. I have provided a safe and secure home for him, but he still worries. I have dealt with disorder since he first exhibited signs when he was 6. I've tried so hard to make things easier for him. He's doing well, honestly he is. But then there are times when the mania breaks through and it's so rough on all of us.

That's what it feels like to be a bad mom to an older kid. I love my job. I love my kids. But I had feeling so inadequate. I want it to be perfect. Why can't it be?

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