Thursday, April 22, 2010

My kids are awesome, but their mother . . . ?

I was jarred from sleep by the little hand on my arm, having completely missed the opening of my door or the stealthy footsteps coming down the hall.

"Mom?" Kyle asked. "I can't find Frostiness."

Frostiness is one of the many stuffed animals that joins Kyle in bed these days. He's a polar bear teeny beanie baby that was a McDonald's Happy Meal toy a while ago. Palm-sized. Not something that I was going to wake myself up to find in the furrows of his covers or under his bed. I remember saying something like "I can't find him tonight. Go back to bed." I didn't even open my eyes.

And he left my room and went back to bed!

Children who go right to sleep when you put them in bed like mine always have? That's awesome. Kids who nap regularly into their 5th year? I can also claim that awesome blessing. A sweet little boy, almost six years old, who pads back to his room alone and goes to sleep unaided in the middle of the night -- without his mom or Frostiness? Beyond awesome.

But this morning I had doubts. He woke up bright and bushy-tailed as usual. "Did you find Frostiness?" I asked him.

"No -- You said you'd help me this morning. Remember? Last night?" he clarified.

His complete lack of judgment both warmed me and pierced me. Reinforced my middle-of-the-night decision while also making me feel a bit guilty. Was I mean? Selfish? Inadequate? Unequal to the task of 24/7 motherhood?

I don't think so. But it doesn't hurt to ask. Motherhood never has been and never will be a black and white endeavor. There are many shades of gray. We'll go crazy if we second-guess and overanalyze every decision.

Being secure with that, finally (almost 12 years into my parenting journey) -- well, I guess that's pretty darn awesome as well.

*****

This post was heavily inspired by two books I'm reading now. The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket, and Other Simple, Brilliant Things are short essays about simple things that are simply awesome. When Did I Get Like This?: The Screamer, the Worrier, the Dinosaur-Chicken-Nugget-Buyer, and Other Mothers I Swore I'd Never Be walks that fine line of mother-guilt and necessity. This scene reminded me so much of each of these themes.

6 comments:

Carrie said...

I'm pretty sure you are an awesome mom.

My eldest, as you know, is into sea creatures and is CONSTANTLY losing his "little bitty octopus" which drives us CRAZY! Being 3, sometimes we help and sometimes we tell him he's going to have to hunt for it himself.

Sometimes I feel guilty and sometimes I don't!

Sounds like you are reading some pretty interesting books there!

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

I'm SO with you on sending them back to bed in the middle of the night! If you aren't feeling sick or had a scary dream, please don't wake me up (I confess to occasionally feeling twinges of guilt over this policy.).

Lisa writes... said...

Yep, I'd have done the same thing. I do the same thing.

And ditto on motherhood and the gray areas. They only seem to get grayer and more confusing the older my kids get...

ibeeeg said...

Yes, it is awesome when your children sleep well. I know this for fact as a Mom with some children who sleep and another who needs assist every night to calm his system down to sleep.

Mommy guilt, hard to avoid it completely but really...we are not perfect nor are our children...it will not hurt them in the long run to have them start to gain some independence early on...this is what I tell myself all the time. :)

Windows Wide Open said...

Sounds to me like you've built trust, Momma...he knew you'd help him in the morn--just like you said :)

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Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Aw, Kyle's such a great kid!

This reminds me of the time C. padded into my room to seek comfort from a bad dream (he was 7, think), and in my sleepy stupor, I mumbled something like, "I'm sorry, I don't think I can help you." and he went back to bed...I didn't even remember the whole encounter until sometime late the next morning, when it came to me in a humiliating flash. For the record, he hasn't held it against me one bit. :)