When it comes to maternal instinct – let’s just say I am “instinctual challenged”. I really have no knack for parenting nor do I have the ability to develop said knack. In fact, on any given day I can be heard cursing the Man upstairs who gave me the ability to pour drinks, bake cookies and fill out a school form but left out the natural knowledge to parent the three little girls He blessed me with.
Really – He could have at least thrown me a bone on this one.
I mean, I am not asking for much. I’ll leave the really good mothering to Claire Huxtable and Barbara Billingsly. I just want to get through the day knowing clearly what to do in most situations. Not even 100% of them. Maybe just 80%… or just 50%.
Two, two situations a day I would like to know how to handle before I start consulting Google, my friends and strangers on the street.
For instance – the lovely little game the girls play called “I had it first.”
This game, which is a favorite since we play it all day long, always ends in ear piercing screams, crocodile tears and bruising for all involved. Yes, that includes me. Seriously- in this house full of every toy from Barbie to puzzles that talk – how in the world am I supposed to keep up with who had it first? A fingerprinting kit?
And how am I supposed to wrench a beloved toy out of one child’s hands and give it to the other without inducing the famous emotional melt- down that comes as a free gift when you order a child? It’s a hidden gift, only to show itself in full force with no warning when said child gets between two and three years old. One that I am particularly fond of, I might add.
So I try reason. I attempt to that explain who has it first is irrelevant. It is who is playing with it at that moment that is important. And whomever had it right before the fight started gets it now.
What? One, two and a three year old don’t know what irrelevant means?
Imagine the dead pan stares and total lack of interest on my kid’s faces right before the offended whacks said offender over the head with the all important toy.
Another round of screaming. Let’s try again Mom. Threats.
“If you guys can’t share the toy, Mommy will have to put it in time out.”
“Noooo tttiiiimmmmeeeee oooouuuuutttttt!!! I had it fiiiirrrrssssttt!”
Oh geez – they are calling my bluff.
So now onto physical force. I attempt to rip the toy out of whichever child had the toughest grip on it… this takes time – these kids are strong – and cause even more screaming, crying and bruising swats- only this time aimed directly at me. Really – its great fun. I recommend it.
To the mentally INSANE!!!!
So by the time we are done with this little game, the toy that they fought over is forgotten, Mommy has a headache and a serious need for something with proof on the rocks, and the kids are a little more trained at how to best handle me next time it arises. Which should be any second now…
I often ask my friends how they handle similar situations. These are good friends, mind you. Gals that really love me and really love being my friend. Did I mention I pour good drinks? These gals are not going to tell me anything other than “That is what I would have done!” I also mentioned I bake. Right?
They see my bird’s nest hair, gray if not for the color I get to get done every six months, the dark circles under my eyes – it’s the new eyeliner – and the stains on my shirt that I was also wore yesterday and lovingly don’t add to my craziness. They support me. GOOD friends!
But deep in my mind, past the dead brain cells and spinning mouse trying to find his way out, is that wonderful self- doubt that becomes oh so pronounced when you become a Mother. “There is a better way to handle this, Lori. If you just would work harder to plant the seeds of discipline, you would not have these problems.” Oh wait, that is my Father’s voice.
Well, let’s be honest. His just compounds that nagging know-it-all in my head telling me that if I had any sense of maternal instinct, my house would be calm, my kids would mind and the dogs would only poop on the northeast quadrant of the yard. And since none of this ever, ever happens, there must be something lacking.
A gene, perhaps, that was handed out after the brains in line upstairs? One that naturally instructs me calmly and correctly to the solution that best teaches, nurtures and enhances my children’s ability to learn and understand that hitting your sister over the head with a Mr. Potato Head might actually hurt like a son of a gun? And cause her to cry. And cause me to come running. And irritate me to the point that I want to sell you on Ebay. Or possibly just put you out on the curb with a sign saying “Free to a good home.”
Whatever it is, I think I was absent the day they handed out that particular talent. Parenting is hard. And frustrating. And confusing. And having three little girls under four just makes it virtually impossible to navigate without natural born skill. Of which I am lacking. Ask my kids… they test me every day to see if anything has changes. Not yet. But I have hopes. Futile hopes.
But hopes just the same.