Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sleeping Beauty at Her Best

I think I am a pretty decent mother. I mean if forced to admit it, I would confess that I enjoy my kids' company, I'm a good listener, I rarely yell, I don't text and drive and I make a point to have family dinners regularly. That may not be mother of the year material but for us it works. Or at least that's what I thought until the other day.

Just the other morning, in the midst of our routine my daughter said very nonchalantly, "I threw up last night." Stunned, I drew her into my arms to comfort her and said, "Oh baby, you should have come to me. I could have helped you.”

“I did.” she said, “I came in your room and called your name but you never answered me."
"You did?" I asked incredulously. "Well, honey, you should have woke me!"
"Well,” she hedged, “I didn't want you to be mad."

And there it was. With her big brown eyes and brutal honesty she thrust a dagger deep in my heart.

What kind of mother am I that my own child is afraid of me at two in the morning?

Now I know I'm a little, ahem, intense when it comes to bedtime but you would be too if you were me. Putting five kids to bed each and every night is hard.

There's homework, baths and brushed teeth (which, by the way, just because you have teenagers let me assure you hygiene checks become more important than ever). Also, are their clothes or uniforms clean? Did they set their alarm and turn off all their electronic devices? Is there enough milk for breakfast? Throw in the rewarding stuff like hugs, kisses and bedtime stories and it's a whole process.

Sometimes, bedtime is the hardest part of my day.

That's why once I get them all tucked in they are not allowed back out. I suspect this bedtime lockdown is where my sick child might have gotten the impression not to wake me. Apparently I need to clarify that vomiting in the bathroom sink in the middle of the night is cause to wake your parents.

I'm a working mother and like most modern women I can do it all when I need to but I admit, I need some down time. From the moment my eyes crack open every morning I am "on". My kids need this, they need that, and I have to hurry them out the door with full tummies and a happy heart. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, I even love being their mother its just that they are so darn draining on me.

I am sure there are mothers out there who just can't relate. You love serving your kids and it is a constant joy at your house. Your floors have lines vacuumed in them, your kid's clothes match and you have time to style your daughter's hair. That's great for you but I freely admit that kind of stuff is beyond my energy level. Its not that I don't believe in those things. I do. I just can't seem to fit them into my day.

Me? I feel successful if the clothes on their back are clean. I'm satisfied if my kids are eating healthy dinners and are kind to each other. Those three things take me all day to do and in all honesty I'm not sure I get each one accomplished with excellence.

That's why, when all my little chicks are safely tucked away and I finally get to close my eyes I’ve been known to, sort of, pass out. My sweet little angel may have been sick in the middle of the night, and yes, she may have been frightened to wake me, but it's possible I was un-rousable. I didn't hear her get up. I didn't hear her vomit in the room next to me. I didn't hear her running the water afterwards. I slept through the entire event like a bear in winter hibernation.

This is not my proudest moment. Of course I need to have a conversation with my kids about the acceptable reasons to wake mommy up at night but I expose my embarrassing story for one reason; it reminds me of the importance of grace.

Excuses aside, the painful truth is I wasn’t there for my kid when she needed me. Now what’s a mother to do? Feel bad for days? Laugh it off? Or use it as a great reminder about how we all fall short of perfection? I can’t always be what my kids need. And I have to be okay with that. That’s not to say I don’t try. I do try. I try so much I collapse into bed every evening. Most days I can fall asleep at night honestly believing I gave it my best, but this vomit story reminds me that my best effort may not be perfect. So am I trying to be perfect or be my best - because sometimes those things are very different.

Also, you should know that I've since rearranged the furniture in our bedroom. I've moved the bed so that my husband's side is closest to the door. If I can't be easily awakened maybe, since he's the lighter sleeper of the two of us, he'll hear the next time one of our children are in distress. That's my best plan and going with that. Why? Because I’m the mom and I said so! That’s why!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad (this article appears in the Daily Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series).

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