Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Not-Good-Enough Mother

This week it has become depressingly obvious to me that I am not a good parent when I am the only parent. I'm sure my current circumstances--home alone with a three-year-old and a 10-month-old for four full days while my husband is out of town on business--seem like no big deal to many people. I'm sure there are those--heck, I know at least one personally--to whom a four-day stint alone with the kids would seem short, humdrum, and/or business as usual. I am not one of those people.

I think I am generally a good stay-at-home mom, but I am not a good at-home mom when I don't get any breaks at the end of the day. I am not a good parent when I have to do it all myself, all day, all night.

Especially when the baby is at that separation-anxiety stage that compels her to attach herself to my kneecaps and try to crawl up my leg like a monkey for half the day. Especially when the toddler--oops, preschooler?--is at that ask-the-same-annoying-question-over-and-over-even-though-I've-already-answered-it stage, and the question most often is something like, "NOW is lunch ready? NOW is lunch ready? NOW is lunch ready?" or "WHEN will you come and read me this book?" and when I say, "No, I will tell you when it's ready" or "I said when I finish cleaning up the table I will come and read to you", the question is out of her mouth again the second I finish my reply.

And what's with every single meal and snack being a life-or-death situation, people? These babies eat every two to three hours; these meals and snacks CANNOT be emergencies. They cannot. No one is starving to death. And yet, apparently they are!

It was hard, and I didn't love it, but last summer when Christopher went out of town on business and left me (hugely pregnant, killer tired) for a few days with Julia, I was still a good parent, if memory serves. A good enough parent, anyway. Add a second baby to the mix and I'm not. Newly three and not-quite-one is too tough on me--the age combination is too hard--when there's no one around to take over at some point in the day. I'm not good at it. That depresses me, because in reality I love having these two girls, I love having them only 26 months apart in age, I love having two very young children in the house at the same time. I wouldn't change that for a minute. But Lordy Lord, if I were to ever find myself a single parent, I would really, really suck at it, because it is incredibly draining to take care of such wee ones all day long, and the respite of another caregiver in the house is the only thing that makes it doable.

I think maybe for the next two days I need to break my cardinal rule and rely more heavily on children's videos. I hear the library has a great Elmo selection. And don't those Baby Einstein DVDs have, like, four-hour running times? Yeah, that should do it...


Mom said...

Don't be so hard on yourself! I am quite sure you haven't resorted to taping Julia's mouth shut or kicking Genna across the room when she shimmies up your leg, so a little impatience and frustration is okay!! This too shall pass!

Elise said...

Ditto on what your mom said. You hold yourself to pretty high standards, so "not good enough" for you is probably "one of my better days" for most of us! A little extra Elmo for a few days won't hurt anyone, particularly if it gives you a break. When Mama ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy. Hope those girls ease up on you a little until Christopher gets home.