Thursday, April 14, 2005

Imperfection is my first, middle, and last name.

I have a confession to make. I am not perfect. I have never been perfect. I will never be perfect.

Most terrible of all: I never expected to be perfect. I don't even WANT to be perfect.

Perfect is a done deal. Perfect is carved in stone. What person wants to be 'finished' before they're even dead? Not me. I'm still perking. Changing every day. Finding out. Learning stuff. Revising my opinions. Listening to smart people. Listening to stupid people. Learning from both.

Oh sure, we all know people who've just quit. I've met people who might as well have been buried six feet under years ago, for all the good they do now. The only difference between some people and a corpse, is a detectable heartbeat and a string of complaints.

I've also met people whose faces looked like their own tombstones. Prunes and prisms and priss and mold. People whose features all seemed to be afraid of each other. Not because of any physical makeup; because of their expression.

That will not be me.

I'm too imperfect.

My kids' friends have always told me that I was a cool Mom. After my kids grew up, they told me I was a cool Mom. This trait became apparent to my own kids only after they grew up. Did you catch that phrase? "After my kids grew up" I was suddenly cool.

However, when my kids were younger and needed a Mom who mommied regularly, they did not tell me I was cool. There is a good reason for that. I was not cool then. I was whimsical and quirky and odd, but I was exceedingly strict with the things that counted, and exceedingly liberal with the things that didn't. My opinion of the things that counted and the things that didn't, differed greatly from my own mother's opinion, and from the opinion of many of the other moms. That never bothered me. I mom'd by instinct, and when my instincts left me clueless, I winged it. Even when I was bathing newborn Belle via a chart in a baby-care pamphlet, I was winging it. (there is NOTHING as slippery as a soapy baby.) I made a lot of mistakes; some were big, most were stupid, but none of them killed the children. Other people's mothers were always way cooler than I was, anyway. I know because my children told me so. I was the uncoolest Mom on the MomList of FriendMoms. Ha, because their friends told me I was the COOLEST mom on the MomList of FriendMoms. Funny, isn't it, that nobody's own mom is ever as cool as other people's moms, at the time. And we are all other people's moms. Therefore, we are both cool and uncool, as the judge changes.

Imperfect. That's me.

I was an imperfect baby, staying up all night and sleeping all day. I was an imperfect child, questioning everything at school and trying to help other kids and occasionally getting into trouble for loaning them things or becoming impatient with them or telling them to "shape up and at least try, stupid!" I was an imperfect teenager, loaning out everything I owned to people who 'needed' them, and often never getting things back, overflowing with hormones yet feeling that there was a time and a place for everything, and now wasn't the time, and feeling perhaps a little superior to my friends who were getting knocked up and 'caught in the act' and being talked about in the restroom. I was an imperfect young adult, making up for lost time in the hormone department, loaning out everything I owned to people who 'needed' them and often never getting things back, dating all the time and not extremely particular, thinking I was wild, maybe drinking a little bit, taking dares, traveling, riding on the backs of motorcycles. I was an imperfect Mom, trying my best to 'do the right thing' yet constantly waking my kids up at 2 a.m. to see the full moon, letting them eat cupcakes or ice chips for lunch, not insisting they sleep in a darkened room (Belle still sleeps in a brightly lit room. Big hairy deal.) , not insisting that their clothing matched (we were so poor that I was making most of their clothes out of my clothes, anyway.) piercing my daughter's ears when she was three years old, letting my son grow his hair really long and wear sweatsuits to school until fifth grade, not letting them ride bikes in our road because it was dangerous even though all the other kids did, never letting them swim in the campground pool without me sitting right there because there was no lifeguard even though none of the other mothers stayed. . . . constantly humiliating them with my motto of "I don't care WHAT the other kids' mothers are doing. . . ." Eh. You can see how hard it must have been to be mothered by me. I screwed up a lot. But my heart was totally in it; I was a mom, buster, and make no mistake about it. Anything that smelled 'wrong' to me that came close to even THINKING about approaching my child, and I was up on my hind legs and ready to swipe someone's face completely off with my big bear claws. I still am. I still would. Try me.

I was an even more imperfect teacher. Nobody else in the building seemed to be in as much trouble as I constantly was. The thing is, I could never just give up on a student. There was always a way, and I still maintain that. None of the other teachers stayed in the building until five or six o'clock. None of the other teachers spent most weekends chaperoning or arranging contests or riding in a bumpy bus so four kids could be in a spelling bee. Nobody else seemed to care about kids with no lunch money, or kids with no paper, pencils, binders, backpacks, shoes, warm coats, mittens. . . . hell, some weeks I spent more than my paycheck on other people's kids, while my own had to eat scrambled eggs and toast all week long. When I was in the middle school, I drew no distinction between my own kids and other people's kids. At home, I was Momy. At school, I was the person the kids came to for emergencies during school hours, and Momy after three thirty. To the masses. Belle and Zappa sometimes resented sharing me, but as far as I was concerned, other people's kids were more than just my job. They were my life. I lost count of the times I called Child Protection Services, and hated to, because of a tale a child told me. I hated to, because most of the time, the child was questioned, the parent was questioned, and the child was returned to the home. I'll blog more about that travesty later. Grrrr. I couldn't turn a deaf ear to a child in need.

I loved kids so much, it was like my entire life revolved around them. My own. Yours. Strangers' kids. I couldn't understand why everyone wasn't crazy about them. I couldn't understand how anyone could hit one in anger, or not hock his soul to make sure a child had shoes. I still can't comprehend how any adult could buy cigarettes for himself and not mittens or socks for his child. It's unthinkable to me. It's unspeakable to me. I co-signed loans for kids. (only got burned once!) I let them borrow my car, my coat, my spare beds, the contents of my refrigerator, my cell phone, my time. . . .

Sometimes, I would wonder who I was, me, myself. I was so caught up in helping kids, I barely recognized myself when I caught a glimpse in a mirror. (who IS that huge fat old chick? Gross!) It was like I had no identity, sometimes. My kids were first. Your kids were also first. Hub usually aided and abetted my kid-centric behavior, even while trying to get me to back off a little and be a little selfish. I couldn't. My selfishness was in believing that I could never be selfish. Sometimes, we have to be. For our own good, and for the good of others who need us.

And then my computer was hijacked and I quit that job and got another one and I'm still reeling a little bit. But somehow, I am finding out that maybe I was overdoing the "Mom for the Masses" thing a little bit. Or a lot.

My blood pressure is better now. It was over 200/115 there towards the end. Not good.
I learned many things. One of which is: You can't save the world all by yourself.

I still believe, however, that if we stop trying altogether, the world will be lost.

I also learned that even though there is terrible want in our schools and in this world, my own kids should have come absolutely first. If I had it all to do over, I'd change. But not much.

Belle is a lot like me. Give, give, give, to the point of absurdity. But she's also got a streak of opinionated toughness in her that I never had, and would have been better off if I'd had it.

I also discovered, to my horror, that much of the world does not care about good motives. They care only about politics, and public opinion, and coincidences, and assumptions.

Don Quixote said it best: "Facts are the enemy of truth."

He was right.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:25 PM | |


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