This post was written by Amanda Hervey. Be sure to visit her new blog, Amanda In Real Life, for her latest adventures.
Kids, since you’re both sound asleep, let me whisper a little secret to you:
I have no idea what I’m doing.
I see how you could be confused. Eli, as I was swaying in the dark with you on my shoulder, trying to summon sleep with a combination of gentle two-steps and “Tiny Dancer” on repeat, I caught a glimpse of my shadow on the wall. It was tall and motherly and impressive. Part of me envied the exaggerated Mom on the wall; she looked like she got it.
You see, my secret fear as I sit here in bed beside you both is that I wasn’t made for this mothering gig. Just this evening as I was in the grocery store, I saw a woman with three kids in her cart. She had a list! And snacks! And purpose! She was very Type-A and impressive to watch; Mom as CEO.
I am so not that mom. I am a mom who probably should have been your crazy aunt, the one expected to make snarky comments or stick forks in the rolls so they’d dance at the dinner table. Instead, I’m in charge of preparing the feast.
Ada, when the time comes and you start your period, I am far more likely to give you a sip of red wine and make headdresses out of maxi pads for a ceremony straight out of a Southern novel than I am to quietly leave a chocolate bar on your nightstand.
And Eli, I will probably flake out on teaching you your multiplication tables or anything pertaining to science but my goodness, will we talk art and music and literature and love. You, my sweet boy, will have an enviable record collection and unless your dad steps in, questionable math skills.
My babies, my loves. I know I fall short in so many ways. I don’t peel your pajamas off you until we’re cleaning up lunch or chart your behavior or leave the house prepared for every possible emergency, from skinned knee to wet socks. I forget to sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” but wail “Midnight Train to Georgia” in a hairbrush and I can’t even wrap my mind around bedtime routines that don’t involve humming Elton John songs into the ear of a fussy baby or better yet, eight tangled legs in clean, white sheets.
When I say things like “Because I said so!” I feel like such a fraud. I want to get down on my knees, look you both in the eye and tell you that behind this Mom exterior, I’m just a girl who loves two little people enough to make believe I’m an adult. I’m a girl who likes eating raw cookie dough and jumping on the bed and dancing in the moonlight. I’m a girl who gets lost in books of poetry and in guitar solos and people-watching at the grocery store instead of responsible meal-planning. And all of those times I said no to you today, that was the worst.
Ada, you have rolled over and are mumbling something in your sleep. I can’t quite make it out but it sounds like you are arguing with me about what to pack for lunch. I touch your sweaty head, kiss your face. Tomorrow we will wake up and I will insist you wear shorts under your dress so no one sees your underpants on the playground. You will fight me. I will pack the banana for snack. You will fight me. I will kiss you and you’ll swat me away for lingering too long. As best as I can, I will be Mom, the one preparing the feast and folding the onesies and rubbing the Orajel on hot, sore gums. I will muddle through being a grown-up so tomorrow night, like so many nights before, I’ll be able to sleep a heartbeat away from you darling little creatures. I will shimmy out of my Mom alter-ego and sit here in the dark, a girl in awe and I will think to myself that I have no idea what I’m doing but I know why I get up and do it again every day.