This guest post by Ali Wilkinson, the hilarious and thoughtful mama behind Run Knit Love, is part of a series called Happy Mother’s Day to Me. (If you don’t already follow her blog or Facebook page, you’re missing out!) In this series, mothers are celebrating themselves for the dedicated, loving, tireless mothers they are—and like Ali, they are celebrating all they are. Check out all the posts in the series!
I’m about to tell you a terrible story about myself. I know that may seem contradictory, since this is supposed to be a celebration of motherhood, but bear with me.
On Sunday night, a duck flew onto our neighbor’s roof. It felt surreal, like an omen. I mean you see ducks fly, but have you ever seen one on a roof? We debated getting a ladder to help her down, but then she casually, awkwardly flew down to our yard and started waddling around, looking pointlessly for her crew or for a lake—neither of which were within a mile of our yard.
Our neighbors across the street have an almost-two-year-old. He was playing out front with his mom, and I ran over to invite them to see the strange sight.
We admired the duck for a while, and then followed from a distance as she hopped down onto the street and began to walk away, as if it were totally natural. Taking the duck’s cue, we went our separate ways.
As I walked back up the path to our yard, my head filled with thoughts of wise and lonely ducks, the top of my left foot came sharply up on the underside of a rock overhanging the path. The pain was bright and harsh, and my foot immediately began to swell and discolor.
It’s Tuesday now, two days later, and because of a few things—namely, my three children—I haven’t had time to get it X-rayed yet. But it still looks like I have another foot growing off of it, and an angry purple C snaking around my toe.
So all this is to say, my foot hurts. Especially when I put pressure on it.
Cut to this morning’s school drop-off. Because of the three kids thing, we have (cue ominous music) a minivan. Normally my two younger kids sit in the front row and my oldest is alone in the back in a booster seat, but we temporarily have another car seat in the back row, giving my oldest two a chance to sit together. However, due to this being a (cue music again) minivan, it involves a great deal of contortion and pressure on my foot in order to strap my daughter in back there.
My daughter asked if she could sit in that seat this morning, and I said, being all let’s foster independence, “I’d rather you didn’t, because it hurts my foot right now to strap you in back there.” When I came to the car to strap her in, she had chosen to sit in the back row anyway.
I smarted, I fumed, but I basically held it together, and worked through the pain to strap her in.
I then spent the entire drive to her school unsuccessfully trying to give my new insurance information to our doctor’s office so I could schedule an appointment to get my foot looked at. This was not super successful given that I was trying to give them my vision insurance. The day was starting off (forgive me) on the wrong foot.
After a frustrating car ride that resulted in no doctor’s appointment, I pulled into the parking lot at my daughter’s school.
“Please help your sister unstrap,” I said to my oldest.
“I don’t want to!” he cried.
“I don’t care,” I said. “My foot hurts, I know you can do it, and I need you to help me.”
He ineffectually pulled at the straps and concluded, “See, I can’t do it.”
Cue the for real ominous music this time. I could see the words coming. It was like breathing into cold air, little puffs coming from my mouth with no way to stop them.
“You guys are awful,” I said, quite calmly actually.
I hobbled to the back and unstrapped my shocked children, who wordlessly exited the car.
And wow, I regretted it. Immediately, with a force so strong it brought tears to my eyes.
I knelt down to my children and looked into their eyes. “I am so, so sorry,” I said. “You are not awful. You are wonderful. I love you both so much. My foot hurts and I’m grumpy and I’m taking that out on you and that is not okay. I am so, so sorry.”
We hugged, and they forgave me.
I try to be the best mom I can be, I try so hard. When I have these moments of failure, it gets to me. I fixate on it. I do not have the quality of children, the ability to so easily accept and let go.
Today, I am choosing to be more like my children: to accept all of me. It’s easy enough to celebrate the best parts—the giggles, the strong hugs around the neck, the joyous reunions, the whispered secrets, the cozy snuggles.
But if I am going to celebrate motherhood, I am going to celebrate all of it. I am going to celebrate the times when I make my children cry with laughter. I am also going to celebrate those times that I fail. They teach me about how strong and kind my children are. They teach me about the importance of forgiveness. They also help me remember that although these moments are awful, they are infrequent. And most of the time, I do a pretty great job—as evidenced by my incredibly non-awful children.
I am celebrating all of me this Mother’s Day. I hope you will join me.
Ali Wilkinson lives in Portland with her husband, three small children, and two large cats. She is a lawyer, writer, knitter, runner and over-consumer of Nutella. She blogs about parenting and other things that make her laugh (and cry) at Run, Knit, Love. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.