A Small List of Failures
August 20, 2009
At five-thirty I had dinner in the oven, a set table, two happy children, and a head start on the dishes. Molly, who can't bear to be out of my sight, bum-scooted herself into the kitchen and attached herself to my ankles. I looked down to cheerfully acknowledge my sweet little daughter, to take pride in my housewifely and stay-at-home-mom-ly accomplishments that evening, and saw that she was picking something up off the floor. From the section of the kitchen floor that hides under the edges of the cupboards, Molly produced what looked like a blueberry that had, I assumed, fallen off the lunch dishes I'd washed earlier. (It was a banner day for prompt clean up in the Cheung household.) But when I bent down to fish it out of her mouth (she's quick) I saw it was a purple jellybean. Covered in dust.
I took a minute to think. Jellybeans. I decided to give myself the benefit of the doubt and date the jellybean back to Jack's birthday cake (May) instead of Easter (April). My sense of accomplishment turned into a good brood over the C+ I got in Home Ec. fifteen years ago. I continued to wash up the dinner prep dishes, shoulders drooping, wondering how in the world I'd missed a jellybean when I sweep that floor EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Although I tend to dwell on (and fixate and obsess and agonize) over every screw up, large or small, I don't think I'm that hard on myself. I did not, for example, hyperventilate over the plethora of germs my daughter may have ingested during the few seconds that jellybean was in her mouth. When she fell off the changing table today (I KNOW) the guilt subsided with the crying, which lasted all of thirty seconds. But I AM sitting here feeling sad and unsettled about the fact that Jack refused to eat his dinner for the millionth time, and for the very FIRST time I didn't leap up to fix him something else. How can I send my two-year-old to bed without dinner? And earlier this afternoon, when he got a little too excited and spilled his milk in the living room, a sticky splash that reached into every corner? I didn't respond very well to that, even though I took three deep breaths before I even got out of my chair. Oh, and this morning, when I reacted to Molly's super annoying shrieks and yells by, uh, yelling back? That was impressive parenting, right there.
Every so often my mom or a blog commenter or a friend insinuates I am being too hard on myself. That I need to let things go and move on and have a little more confidence in my mom abilities. I never know what to say. I HAVE confidence in my mom abilities. HONEST! I don't know if it's "being too hard on myself" so much as "letting the little things get me down." It's true I don't know how to let that stuff roll off my back, but once I'm over it I'm over it, and it never takes too long. I'm not storing anything up for a weepy Why Did They Even Let Me Take This Child Home From The Hospital meltdown, trust me. I'm entirely too prideful and lazy for THAT.
It'd be nice, though, if a dust bunny jellybean or a bowl full of untouched chicken didn't ruin that hour of the day. My kids are hilarious little people lately, and I wish I was better at focusing on the fun we're having rather than the disaster of a house in which we're having the fun, or the way I handled things when the fun turned into whining and wailing.
Do you keep a running list of failures in your head? How do you let them go?