A "good enough" mom muses about alpha moms, adoption, computers, the State Of The World, Internet quirkiness, and the Kosmik All
Good enough
There are times OmegaMom sits paralyzed, wondering just how badly she is screwing up OmegaDotter. Did I shout too loud? Was I mean? Am I ignoring her? Am I lavishing too much attention on her? Should I stop making her take "just one bite of everything"? Should I start making her "clean her plate"? Did I scare her by slamming the door? Should she have an earlier bedtime? Would it be better to dose her up with cold medicine so she doesn't snore at night? Am I giving her too much medicine? Are we too strict? Are we strict enough? I have a temper that flares fast and sudden, then dies down and disappears as quickly as it comes. There are times when the dotter is dawdling so...very...slowly...getting...dressed...in...the...morning that I just grit my teeth and shriek through them, then yank her nightshirt off over her head and her t-shirt on instead, all the while lecturing her about how she knows what the routine is every morning, and why does she have to dawdle and yadda yadda yadda. I'm sure what gets through are two things: mommy's grumpy and "Waaa wa-wah wahhhhhh," just like in the Charlie Brown movies. And then I feel guilty and miserable, and am sure I'm screwing her up. But then I read about someone who cuts off her newly adopted child's ear because he's not saying his prayers in English. Or I read the story of A Child Called "It", whose mother went nuts one year and ever afterwards made him the scapegoat for all her moods, beating him, tying him naked in the basement in the winter, refusing to let him eat. Or I read stories about babies whose parents leave them in their pee-soaked and poop-filled diapers day after day, so that their little bottoms are not just suffering from diaper rash, but raw and festering wounds that take weeks to heal. Parents who put their cigarettes out in their toddler's fleshy skin because "I just don't like boys." Men who rape babies and have the gall to say, "She wanted it. She was sexin' on me!". And it just appalls me. Flabbergasts me. How, I wonder. How could someone--? How could you--? Then there are the parents who don't actively abuse their children, but passively neglect them. No reading in bed. No dress-up. No games. No playing. Kids who show up at their first kindergarten class and don't know their colors or their shapes or how to sing or how to blow bubbles or that it's okay to have fun (but do know how to dress themselves...). And it makes me wonder--why? Why have children, then? Or stories that I hear from friends, of parents who regularly told them they were shit, worthless, useless, stupid, ugly. And I am amazed that they have come through that with any sort of feeling that they are good and worthwhile human beings. When I hear or read these stories, my grumpy, "Dotter! If you do not get your foot off the book right now, I am going to stop reading to you, close the book, turn off the lights, and we are going to go to sleep!" seems caring. My "Dotter, you have to clear your plate and placemat and napkin off the dinner table" seems as if we are just taking the time to ensure that she learns a few family graces. My horror at these stories sets me apart (I hope!) from the "No more wire hangers!" Mommy Dearest that I am sometimes fearful of becoming. Oh, I am no saint, far from it; as I said, I lose my temper and storm and rage and flounce around and slam doors--providing a horrid example for the Dotter. But I will treasure every time she pouts and tells me or OmegaDad, "You're not my friend!" because it means she trusts us enough to know she can say something like that, rather than cowering in her room in fear of...yet another beating, yet another burn, yet another night of being told you're too worthless to be fed. Love for your child shows up in a myriad ways: Putting extra bandaids on, reading stories, piling in a sleepy heap on the sofa and watching movies, making sure they take their vitamins, even in something so mundane and obvious as changing diapers or cleaning up the vomit when they're sick. My dotter may not have a cushy preschool leading to a cushy private grammar school leading to a prestigious high school leading to an Ivy League university...but she has parents who care enough to chase her with Tickle Fingers and play horsie and teach her to ride a bicycle. And that's Good Enough.
posted by Kate @ 6/22/2006 04:28:00 PM  
  • At 6/22/2006 07:21:00 PM, Blogger Space Mom said…

    Thanks. I needed to read this today

  • At 6/22/2006 07:47:00 PM, Anonymous Theresa said…

    I can really relate to your post today OmegaMom. When I am worn out I so often wish I could turn back the clock 3 years and start over w/dd. I too have a short temper far too often and yes, it is the dawdling that drives me crazy. Lately I have been so consumed with my parents' situation as we try to prepare their house to sell and move them to a nursing/independent living facility-I spend more time focused on them than dd-and that is so not fair to a 4 year old who never asked to be adopted into our family. As I was bemoaning the poor weather forcast for this weekend which will cancel our much needed getaway to the shore your post reminds me I am not alone in my feelings.

    ps-I was also sorry to read about your problems with adopting dottir #2.

  • At 6/22/2006 08:19:00 PM, Blogger Miss Cellania said…

    What's the story on cutting the kid's ear off? Thats appalling.

    My mom was a state social worker. She's heard all the horror stories,although she doesn't much share. She brings me up when I'm feeling like a failure by telling me what a good mom I am.

    Yeah, but look what she's comparing me to.

  • At 6/22/2006 10:27:00 PM, Blogger MomEtc. said…

    Thanks for reminding me of this....I have a temper sometimes, too.

    I think it's more important sometimes to let kids know when we're mad because otherwise we just aren't being real. We have to let them know when they are absolutely pissing us off.

  • At 6/22/2006 11:11:00 PM, Blogger Kate said…

    SpaceMom--I hope it wasn't a bad day...

    Theresa--It's hard having to move elderly relatives (especially parents, though I haven't had to deal with it myself). Not just the practical side, but the emotional side, realizing that they are no longer what they once were. Don't worry that you're short-changing your daughter--you'e there, you love her, she knows it.

    Miss C.--The story can be found here: http://mosnews.com/news/2006/02/09/adoptioncharge.shtml

    With more info here: http://www.mosnews.com/news/2006/02/11/adoptionprobe.shtml

    MomEtc--I think we can all have those days. It's how we handle them that counts.

  • At 6/23/2006 06:28:00 AM, Blogger Johnny said…

    If you can look outside of yourself at yourself and see this and think about it, you're way ahead of those crazies.

  • At 6/23/2006 04:21:00 PM, Blogger Siuan said…

    I think you are in my head! I have these thoughts somedays! But they will grow up to be wonderful people!

  • At 6/23/2006 08:42:00 PM, Blogger oshee said…

    Wow..Thank You!

    So often we momma's spend so much time berating what we can be doing better, we don't give ourselves credit for all the Right things we are doing.
    Thank you for a little credit. For when you give it to yourself as you do here..it makes it easier for me to give some to myself too.

  • At 6/24/2006 09:07:00 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    Every mother needs to read this. Thanks.

    As I was reading it, my 4 year old daughter came up to me with a pair of scissors and a sheet of bright green paper and said "can you cut a triangle and a circle for me - I want to make a ball-head". And I couldn't help but think how rich her imagination is because she has a safe place to grow. (Yes, I stopped reading to cut the circle and triangle. :-)

    (I came by way of Oshee. :-)

  • At 6/24/2006 11:48:00 PM, Blogger Granny said…

    I came by way of Oshee too. There are days when kids push every one of our buttons.

    We've all had them. And I'm sure we all feel guilty. But we wuld never cause them harm. We love them.

    I'm just numb anymore at the appalling things people do too kids. Not uncaring, just almost beyond shock. What an indictment of our society that is.

  • At 6/25/2006 07:37:00 PM, Anonymous figlet said…

    Better than Good Enough, dammit!!

  • At 6/26/2006 02:17:00 PM, Blogger Ava said…

    Oshee sent me ...

    Great post.

    There are so many horror stories out there. Each one breaks my heart.

    I made mistakes with mine, but they were always well cared for and always knew that they were loved.


  • At 6/26/2006 09:10:00 PM, Blogger My Full Hands said…

    I hate it when I realize I have not been the mother I want to be for a day, moment, whatever. The greatest things about kids though is that they are so forgiving. An apology goes a long way with a little child. They know you love them if you take the time to say you are sorry.

  • At 6/28/2006 12:28:00 AM, Blogger MommyWithAttitude said…

    Thanks for this great post!

    I am trying to potty train my almost-three-year-old and he WILL NOT POOP ON THE POTTY. Actually, he does it now and then. But tonight he didn't (five minutes after he allegedly "tried" before bed). And I just yelled and bitched and nagged and lectured the whole time I was cleaning him up.

    But then I did go wash my hands and come back to hug and kiss him goodnight. Hopefully that was good enough.

  • At 7/11/2006 09:27:00 AM, Anonymous Ginny said…

    1st time visitor here..can't remember how I got here, I apologize.

    But, I am a mother too and know exactly the fear. I storm and rage more than I should--but love my children so fiercely, it actually scares me on occasion. How could I ever live w/o them? Wonderful post.

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About Me
Name: OmegaMom
Home: Southwest
About Me: Middle-aged mom of a 4-year-old adopted from China. Love science, debate, good SF and fantasy, hiking, music of almost every style. Lousy housekeeper. "Good enough" mom.
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