Mothering

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I’ve been dreaming of warm, tropical seas lately and not just because warmth seems so slow to come this year. I dream of sea turtles, paddling effortlessly through distant waters.   I lay on my bed as far away from the chaos downstairs as I could be and for more than one guilty moment, I dream I am a sea turtle mama.  I’m a huge creature that pulls herself with great effort out of the ocean, digs a pit with her flippers, lays her eggs and covers them carefully, lovingly even.  My task complete, I lumber back into the sea,with nary a glance back.

I am not a patient, doting mama. Please don’t misunderstand.  I love my children.  However, when homework projects are left to
the last, chores not done without endless nagging, food scraps are left by the video game controllers, and especially when my parental authority is called into question, might I not be entitled to a little daydream?

I wonder about my childhood.  Maybe my mother was a sea turtle.  Perhaps I hatched in a sandy hole on a lonely beach, found my way to the sea alone.  I certainly don’t recall being coddled, cajoled, and guided forth in any way. I remember rules,  expectations, and dare I say it, spankings.  I remember wanting to please my parents because the alternative was displeasing them which led to unpleasant consequences (see spankings above).   Not my children.  I do believe they wake up every morning conjuring new ways to challenge their parents.  Although they are  intelligent and articulate, my kids have very little life experience and often have no idea what they’re talking about.  Don’t try to tell them that – they know everything.

My kids are of an age where they think they know everything and their parents know…substantially less.   Since hatching, I’ve managed to survive almost 50 years.  I have lived and worked in many places and I have experienced and seen many things. I watch the news,read the papers, and know how many continents and seas there are on the planet. And still, my children, those lucky  baby
sea turtles whose mother stuck around, argue with me and roll their little eyes and lambast me to the point where I secretly go online and check to see if I’m mistaken – maybe there are 8 continents now. Things change – the number of planets changed recently, after all. My kids exhaust me to the point where I say “YES! There are 8 1/2 continents now – leave  me alone!” Ever doubtful, they later Google the continents and declare loudly that I am, again, wrong.

Yes, there are days I wish I was a sea turtle mama.  I would like to let them sink or swim, I really would.  But I can’t.

Most days, I nag them to the point we all shed tears.  I ask them multiple times each morning: “Do you have your phone, lunch, field trip forms?  “Wear a jacket – I know the calendar says mid-May but this is CANADA, honey and yes that is snow on the ground…” I’m a failure as a mother when they forget something or if they are not absolutely prepared every day for anything.  At night when the lights are out, I struggle to un-clench my jaw. I recite the number of continents and states in the U.S.
just to make sure it’s all still there…Just as I fall asleep, dreaming of a warm tropical sea, my little girl sea turtle pats me on the arm. “Mommy, I had a bad dream…” Instead of hauling my hard-shelled ass out to sea, I haul it out of bed and tuck the little sea turtle back in, crawl into bed with her and cuddle her until she starts snoring softly in my arms.

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2 responses »

  1. Frances — congratulations on your bouncing new blog! I’m so glad you’re doing this and will immediately spread the news to all my friends. I love this first entry. It makes me think of my students, and of various adults I know, and I start to wonder if perhaps the development time of the frontal cortex has somehow expanded so that now it remains unformed into adulthood…

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