Tread Softly

My husband is on travel for the next month. With me being in Colorado for the first month of summer, and him being away the last month, it basically has worked out to two weeks together in the same nation this summer. 

And I’ve had the children for all of it. 

So that’s the context for what I’m about to write. 

I feel judged. Almost the time.

I recognize it in the glances, in comments, in the pauses and hesitations.

My kids can be kinda bratty. They interrupt me and other adults. My oldest says rude things. My youngest speaks at an ear-piercing volume and whines. I repeat myself more than necessary, and when I take my children out in public, I am constantly afraid that they are going to embarrass me.

I don’t read books or parenting blogs, because, well… makes me feel even worse. The voices in these books come from a place of confidence, which I have never, in all my years of parenting, felt. While the authors know that doing A will equal B, I have always seen the gray, the what-ifs, and the inbetweens.

Which, according to many, is exactly my problem.

I love my children. Fiercely. And one of the things I miss the most about living here is that nobody has watched my children grow up. My friends in the states, who watched my oldest toddle in the park, and visited me in the hospital when my second was born, love my children with an equally fierce and pure affection. We were on the same path, clearing away the brush and holding each other’s hands on the steep parts.

And now, I don’t feel like I have that. I fight the urge to write, “he’s-not-really-like-this” emails to people after playdates, and I long to tell people about those  moments where they hold hands, or kiss my arms, or that one time, several years ago, where one of them listened to me the first time I asked him to do something.

It’s a lonely place to be. It’s a feeling that everybody else has got it together. Or their kids are younger. Or female.

I am aware that my children are learning, and I work with them. I try. I do.

I write these words not for validation, or for advice, or for anything besides the fact that they are seeping from my pores.

I care about this so damn much. The worst thing you can say to me is that I am a bad mother.

And so, even if these feelings of judgment only come from my own stupid mind, or, if you want to get spiritual, a dark, pernicious voice, they are real. I feel them.

So tread softly. Because when it comes to my kids, you are indeed treading on my dreams.

9 thoughts on “Tread Softly

  1. Kids react to change. You are wonderful and your boys are probably dealing with all of the changes in their own way. They do it for you because they know you will love them know matter what. Thinking of you.

  2. Nancy, my heart goes out to you. This summer you are single parenting under the most difficult of conditions. You have no hand-offs, and no help in making the quick decisions, yet you must try to make decisions that both you and your husband would support. It’s not easy. The boys are doing what kids at those ages and in those circumstances do. Just keep loving on them. Remember that this too shall pass. Take care of yourself.

  3. Hey – all those moms (especially in the blog world) who “know that A will equal B” and seem to have it all together all. the. time….don’t. You’re just seeing their highlight reel. How many times have I read what you write about your kids and said to myself, “Wow – WOW! How does she DO that? I want to do that too!” One day at a time friend.

  4. Try having four rambunctious kids and being married to a pastor! Those were tough days! Everyone watched and everyone had an opinion, whatever we did with our kids. And the kids truly did have wretched moments when I wouldn’t even have taken them home with me if I hadn’t had to do so. We did frequently suggest, and sometimes beg, that they should edit the remarks and actions that they were about to commit, and they’ve become pretty smooth grown-ups. And if it is any consolation to you, they did grow up to be imperfect–but good–people who use their gifts with success, love their own kids, and have forsaken the urge to be axe murderers. They like us and one another; we like them and one another. We’re blessed, and you will be, too. You’re providing love (and they recognize it), fascinating and stimulating experiences, and inner stability. It’s going to be fine in the end, and most of the people who really are judging and disapproving will not be in the least significant in their lives or yours in the future. All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well. Count on it!

  5. I sometimes think about the children’s perspectives. To them there are essentially two kinds of grown-ups in the world – adults and parents. They are different so the children relate to them differently.
    I told my daughters growing up, “It is my job as your parent to say “no”. Everyone else will try to appeal to you by saying “yes” because they want something in return – friendship, money, love, affection. I and your mother are the only ones who say “no” because we are the only ones who expect nothing in return for our unconditional love.”
    I have no idea if what I said did any good, but it felt right at the time. Anyway, good luck. I know you are a fine mother, which is often a thankless job, and it is more difficult when you are parenting alone. Nonetheless, your children are most fortunate.

  6. As I sit at my computer and avoid Addie so I don’t have to answer another deep theological question from her and I question if I was meant to be her mother and am I screwing her up, I happen to run across this post. I think by the end of the first paragraph I could hardly read the words because of the tears running down my face. You are such a beautiful writer and you some how put into words exactly what I am feeling most days. Thank you Nancy for your honesty and willingness to share it.

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