The Good Mother
Some woman have a fool-proof life plan that goes something like: healthy happy childhood, happy healthy teen hood with just the right amount of mischief and mayhem while getting straight A’s and joining the Glee club, apply for several Ivy Leagues but promise yourself you’ll be satisfied with a halfway decent school, rinse and repeat mantra from high school, kiss a load of boys but fall in love once, move out together after college both working at high end jobs making decent money. Travel. Own a dog (telling yourself it’s practice for a baby) wait until you are both successful enough to afford a house, or two bedroom apartment and you convince yourself that you don’t care about cellulite and stretch marks before you start to try and get pregnant. Get pregnant. Spend nine months worrying how you’re going to never fit back into your old jeans while simultaneously eating cake. Good smooth labor. Six weeks of maternity leave, spent dieting, attempting to breast feed, taking thousands of pictures of baby and catching up on novels. Purchase breast pump. Hire responsible nanny (slightly chubby, and nonthreatening, note: nanny cannot be sexy). Cry the first day back to work, but secretly are pleased you will have adult conversation and a latte. Maybe repeat ?get pregnant? in a few years…
Yeah, nice plan.
Here was mine:
Crappy childhood (see alcoholic father, emotional neglect and bankruptcy), teen hood with an abundance of mischief but certainly more mayhem in the form of pot smoking, class skipping, lying and staying out all night, and therapy. Some normalcy (in bits and pieces), college eventually (county college), class skipping and pot smoking, divorce, moving around to several apartments, one or two emotional breakdowns, a crappy boyfriend, several hundred passionate short lived friendships, and finally moving out on my own for approximately two weeks before deciding to move in with my best friend, and love. Yes, I had one through eight years of crap.
On paper, I seem (to be frank) like an irresponsible moron. I might have been, but squashed into the paragraph of my seemingly horrible life thus far there was a wrong diagnosis of bipolar disorder, unfair medication pushed upon me for five years, and a father who bounced from sober to dead drunk in the blink of an eye. I’m not really a crappy person; I love to read, I worked at a nursing home for two years making arts and crafts with old ladies, I write essays, and short stories, told my brother and mom I loved them more than everything almost every night, I’m in love with a wonderful caring man who understands me, and now I’m a mom.
But what makes a good mother? Is it the girl who had the textbook perfect childhood? The well balanced up-bringing, and warm confident smile? Is it the girl who screwed around for a few years before learning she was capable of being a loving wife, and an even more loving mom? Is it the single mom who finally left her abusive husband and works three jobs so her little girl can have new sneakers? Is it the working mom, or the stay at home mom?
I think it’s the mother who wants the best for her child. The mom who listens well, and offers a shoulder to cry on, the mother that formula feeds, or breast feeds, uses cloth diapers to protect the environment or gets excited for value packs of Pampers. No mom is perfect, but we can damn near try…