I am a writer by passion. I am a mother by trade, and I am countless other names that this town, strangers and old friends have given me. For the most part, I let it roll off. Say what they will, I am happy to be living my life.
I love expanding thoughts, using big words and experiencing the change in my mood after dumping prose and poems from my soul to blank paper. My list of creative triggers and epiphanies are wild eruptions born from a voice, a feeling or scent of wet spring mud. They come in fits, furiously presenting themselves like impatient children crying out for attention.
Before yesterday, I even had the audacity to believe I'd write something beautiful, maybe not earth-shattering or famous, but truth-baring pages filled with relatable emotion and electricity. Then, today came. So came all the doubt only one's self can conjure up and it overtook me. I tried to refocus, find gratitude, anything! A quiet stream of prolific words painting over the dubiety in my mind flourished and flooded me. And just then, at the pivotal moment of self-resurrection... "Mooo-ooommm?!"
Most of those moments depart as swiftly as they arrive because we can't find a sock, or a school form needs to be signed while a reading level book gets sounded out. I'm not sure I can recollect the last time I've gone to the bathroom without a child sitting cross-legged by me, asking me questions, or my son pulling off 10 times more toilet paper than necessary. More often than not, it's a combination of the dog and one of the above.
I haven't bathed or showered much without a child under 10 in the room in over a decade. Life happens. It is a beautiful grounding force, but also an instant death of those magical moments of clarity and random story lines. Provocative questions or existential theories develop and evaporate in my already list-driven, task-heavy role. I could get angry (and I do at times.) I could feel self-pity that my full identity is neither validated nor merely allowed to flourish naturally.
Standing at the bottom of the stairs awaiting the second scream for me (they never come singularly) it hit me: I'll let people say anything they want. They can detail perceived debauchery, or exaggerate my past of which no one really knows anything. They can glare at school pick-up, or refuse to meet me at the door when I drop off my 5-year-old for playdates. They can exclude me, roll eyes or even feel unnecessary pity. All of this is met with my bubbly smile and protective armor, which I fashioned for my family.
I challenge -- no, scratch that -- I dare them to debate my most crucial and exigent role in this drama-comedy, that is my life: Unrehearsed, without guide or role model, my lead role of Mother.
In a profoundly unexpected moment of purpose, I paused in reflection. I saw how my son is nearly potty-trained and happy-go-lucky. I heard my fourth-grader cracking genuinely funny jokes with perfect comedic timing on the phone. I smiled at my middle daughter, known as "the neighborhood tornado." She is bright, bold and begrudgingly very sensitive to other people's feelings. Not unlike her mother.
All of them are well-adjusted, truly happy and independent. These traits are all their own, and also a function of how well we have parented. Yes, it is a team effort. I don't solely take credit at all, but I recognize it as messy perfection. It is my job review in quiet pause of revelry.
Seconds into cleaning an accidently-broken transparently green "Coca Cola" glass that was picked out with tickets won at Chuck-E-Cheese, my daughter, the one who acquired the glass, screams blame and finger-points. I always ask, calmly: "Are you helping or hurting this situation?"
When my son pulls out an entire role of foil for no reason that makes sense to me. I stop. Say, "Are you mad? I think you are. Want to snuggle?"
I bask in the random glow of compliments from flight attendants or strangers when they stop to say: "Wow, your children have beautiful manners, that's a lost trait these days."
It's been tested and taunted by beguiling suburban passive aggression.
It is tantamount to my greatest accomplishments now, or in the future.
It is sacrosanct from the bottom of my womb to the depths of my soul.
I am their mother and that is everything.
Stop for a minute and look around at all the things going well, in spite of the circus we seem to be staring in as parents. You might be pleasantly surprised to find you, too, are doing something right! I call that a success.
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