Yesterday, as I hid in flannel sheets to find a nap I didn’t really need, I realized why I think of myself as such a mediocre mom. It’s because I thought there would be a lake.
All I’ve ever had is a river. My life has been a river. No, let’s have the proper visual. My life has been an urban overflow culvert for diverting flash floods in perpetual hurricane season. Muddy polluted water and trash surging at terrifying speed. And I’ve been clinging to a Styrofoam cooler in the middle of it, perpetually cold and exhausted and sputtering.
Yet I thought, as a mother, I would suddenly be able to climb out of that bilge, hop over to a crystalline lake, and make my life a series of healthy, elegantly executed strokes to and fro in the clear clean water. Healthy diet for the children, breast stroke! Intellectual stimulation, scissor kick. Consistency, cleanliness, joy and dependability; there I’d go, cutting through the water like no-nonsense dolphin. That would be parenthood.
That all the sudden I’d stop being me.
That didn’t happen. I’m still, seven years in, just coming to terms with it. How far I am from that lake. I really thought I’d be in the lake.
But, I’m not clinging to Styrofoam either, though. At some point I summoned the strength to find a raft. It leaks and wilts but it holds us all. I even have a single paddle, for all the good it does me against the current. Other families have two paddles. Motorboats. I even know one with the parental equivalent of a small yacht, the bastards.
Still. I shouldn’t have been hiding yesterday in the bed, with the kids bored and re-watching Wreck It Ralph yet again while Gus surfed the internet on the couch behind them. LE needs to practice reading. She needs to see me clean the house and learn to help. The boy needs to be read to and I should play blocks with him. I should think of something for dinner. But I don’t want to. I almost never want to.
I should be building a better boat.