That is one of my biggest fears. A gigantic fear that can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy if I'm not careful. It's a fear entangled in expectations and resentments that branch out like tentacles waiting to drag me down into the murky depths of self-doubt, guilt, and shame, and ultimately try to drown me in the abyss of despair and hopelessness.
As a child, I was expected to be smart, obedient, and happy. I knew if I did all these things "just right", everyone would be pleased with me and life would be good. I knew if I failed, I would be met with looks of disapproval, verbal confirmation of disappointment, or outright punishment, so I learned to perform the perfect dog and pony show to keep the approval coming. Unfortunately, at some point I would fall short of perfection, and I knew my best was not enough. The pit in my stomach and the inability to look the disappointed person in the eye was all the confirmation I needed to be convinced of this. However, keep in mind that the demand for perfection was something I cooked up in my head. I don't believe my parents ever placed that extreme of an expectation on me. Yes, they expected me to be a good kid, but the unrealistic expectations demanding perfection was all my doing.
Then came my teens and early 20s in all of their alcoholic glory. You can read about it here (Go ahead, it's worth the read. I'll wait here for you). My story. Part 1 of 3 , My story part 2 of 3: When Alcohol Stopped Working., and My story - Part 3 of 3 - Desperation Works Wonders. Aaaaaaand we're back.
The fear of "doing it wrong" now rears it's ugly head mostly when it comes to aspects of parenting and trying to raise my two young daughters. I want to be the best mom ever, but know that's a title that I will never hold. I'd like to say I'm doing the best job that I possibly can, but that would be a lie. What? I'm not doing my absolute best at the most important job I have? Why the hell not? The simple answer is, "I don't know why. I just can't." I can't teach the girls to be great housekeepers. My housekeeping skills suck. It's New Year's Day and it still looks like Christmas threw-up in my living room. I've never been good at keeping things organized and probably never will be unless I can figure out how to hire someone that is. The idea of neat and organized is a pipe dream for someone who is paralyzed when it comes to major cleaning projects. I won't be featured on Hoarders any time soon, but if you come over, you will most likely have to throw the basket of clean clothes off the recliner before you can sit down.
I haven't taught them how to cook. My oldest can make macaroni-n-cheese and french toast, compliments of her father. I don't like to cook. It seems like such a hassle for something that will be eaten in a few minutes and then I'll have to clean up after it. Because of this, we do not eat as healthy as we should and rely far too heavily on Subway. I tell myself that at least they're eating fresh vegetables that way, but I know better. It seems like our lives are so busy that there's no time to cook. Cooking takes time, pre-planning, food in the refrigerator, ingredients, recipes, etc. Truth is, I'm lazy. I like things quick, easy, and with minimal effort. I don't know why I'm like that, I just am. I've often told myself that since I'm so tired at the end of the day after dealing with work and then on to homework with the kids, that the magic solution could be held in a crockpot. People do that, right? They throw shit in the crockpot in the morning, and come home to a house that smells heavenly of a meal that is ready to eat. Why can't I do that? First of all, once again, we're back to that need for ingredients, which means I would have had to plan it out so I had already gone to the grocery store (which I hate) with enough of a plan in mind that I would have known what ingredients to purchase in hopes that I could concoct a meal of sorts with them. Secondly, if by some miracle I DID accomplish the proper grocery shopping and have a list of instructions on what to do with the food, I'd have to GET OUT OF BED EARLY IN THE MORNING. That just doesn't happen. I am not good at getting up on time. Getting out of bed literally pains me. When I haven't slept enough, I wake up shaky and queasy. The only way to calm that down is to eat something and take a nap. Yes, I take a nap before most people go to work in the morning. If I'm that tired, I should just go to bed earlier, right? Oh, you're a jokester, aren't you? If I went to bed earlier, one of two things might happen. 1. I might not fall asleep IMMEDIATELY. If I lay there for more than a minute without falling asleep, I get annoyed and figure I'm not tired and therefore might as well get back up and so something like watch TV, check my facebook, play on my kindle, or do all 3 at once, or 2. I might miss something. What? Miss what? I DON'T KNOW. But still, I don't go to sleep. Unless I fall asleep watching tv...I just call that a nap. A nap before bedtime makes perfect sense, no?
So...I don't cook and I don't clean. What do I do? I've been told that I'm good in the sack, but that's not really something that helps my parenting abilities.
Here's what I do that I hope will be good enough. Although there might be wrapping paper laying everywhere, I taught my girls that it's okay to ignore it for now and to sit down and play with your kids and their new toys. Yes, I think the blue Monster High doll would speak in a really crappy French accent, and yes, I think she would try to use the Littlest Pet Shop dog as a foot stool. I taught them that while building snow globes is semi-serious business, sometimes it doesn't go perfectly and you have to start again because the little bastard won't stop leaking! I also taught them that when no one is looking, you can snag some of the youngest one's Littlest Pet Shop animals and decorate your already messy hair with them and then act like you have NO IDEA why they are looking at you so oddly. And when I grabbed the empty wrapping paper tube and started fencing with them (which I TOTALLY rocked at...because they were unarmed...it's good self-defense practice, right?), and yelled, "Who's the best mom EVER?", they didn't even pause and yelled back, "MY MOM!" "MY mom." "My MOM". That's me, guys. I'm their mom. ME. I went from broken child to messed up teen to divorced mom to best mom ever. As I type this, I am in awe. I don't know whose life this is. It surely can't be mine, right? How did I get so lucky? I've certainly never done anything to DESERVE this life.
Maybe I DON'T have to do it all right. Maybe it WILL be enough. Maybe it won't. One thing I have learned in sobriety is that while I'm responsible for doing the footwork, the outcome is out of my hands. I will continue to show my girls love and respect and will continue to mess up and apologize for my mistakes. I will continue to be the "mean mom" who makes them do their homework and shower and mind their manners (for the most part). And even when they're mad at me, I'll remember that I'm the best mom ever, because they told me so. If that doesn't work, I guess I'll just pull out the wrapping paper tube and whack them until they say it again.