I'm a good mother.
I'm not a perfect mother. I could easily fill up 100 pages with mistakes I made just today.
But unlike the deep bouts of doubt I once had over whether I was a good actor or singer, or the doubts I can have today over whether I'm a good writer, blogger, gardener or even friend, I don't have too many over my ability as a mother.
Motherhood fits my personal skills really well. I'm a natural born nurturer. The years I spent on a therapist's couch working on myself have given me a fair amount of patience, and my love of theater and art have always gelled well with kids.
My problem-solving skills served me well in the paid workforce and came in handy when it turned out that both of our boys have learning differences and our daughter has significant special needs.
I also don't mind playing the bad guy. I'm not afraid of the word no, and I take it as a sign that I'm doing my job well if one of my kids says they hate me
Being a mom is the one job I always knew I wanted, and one I worked really hard to get. My husband and I endured four miscarriages before the birth of our first child.
When Tom finally came along 15 years ago, followed by Lizzy and then Peter, I felt blessed to finally have the family I wanted, and I didn't want to take one minute for granted.
I've always been grateful that I had the choice to stay home and be their primary caregiver and have never once regretted my decision.
Even on days when I could barely keep my eyes open from sleep deprivation or was on my tenth load of laundry because a child (or two or three) had a dreaded stomach bug, or one of the angels was in the midst of a horrific meltdown, or I didn't think I could sing one more verse of "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed," I knew I wouldn't trade one minute of my cushy, pre-child life for my worst day as a mom.
Then this year happened. Tom, our wonderful, talented, first child who I have always enjoyed a great relationship with, entered high school, turned 15, was abducted by aliens and replaced with a surly, moody teenager.
He can be so nasty to everyone and anyone in the family that I'm often in shock. For the first time in my career as a mom, I feel completely off my game. I find myself losing my temper and being angry and cross myself. The tone in my family has changed, and I'm angry.
Up until now, I've directed my anger and frustration at Tom. I simply couldn't understand why his behavior could be great one moment and just horrible the next. This is not the genteel home life I envisioned for us and worked so hard to maintain.
Today, I had a realization. What if I'm not just angry at his behavior? What if I'm a little angry at losing my little boy? What if my feelings are coloring the way I'm handling him and making a tense situation worse? After all I'm the mom. The buck stops here. If something isn't working, I have to take some of the responsibility.
As a mom, I've focused so much energy on helping my son become all he can be. Each time a problem has come up, I've quickly gotten him the help he needed. I was determined that Tom's dyslexia not define him or his options. I've spent so much time preparing him to be his own advocate and have been so proud to see him stand up for himself. I also love that he's a typical teenage boy, joking with his friends, acting goofy, and testing the limits.
I still can't quite get over the fact that one day I was picking out cribs, the next picking out preschools, and within a couple of years will be helping him pick out colleges.
I know this is the way it's supposed to be. But all my hard work is making my job less and less important. I'm moving from a hands-on manager to more of a consultant. Like any displaced employee, I miss the "good-old-days."
This piece was originally published on http://mydishwasherspossessed.com/ under the title, So Long, it's Been Good to Know You