Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Perfection, With a Side of Chaos

Once upon a time there was a cute little girl who lived in middle America. She had red hair and a fat lip. And she loved children. She had her first babysitting job when she was six years old. She couldn't wait to grow up and have 17 children of her own and be a perfect mom. Everyone knew she would too.

When she played football in the streets with the neighbor kids, she was always one of the first people picked for a team because she was good. But the neighbor kids also hated picking her because if a small child appeared on the scene, she was as good as gone. She loved children and she couldn't wait until she could have some of her own, so she could be the best mom evoh.

Then she grew up and had kids of her own. She had one little boy. And he was adored. Then she had a little girl. She too was adored. Then one day she woke up and suddenly she had three kids, a weight problem, and a messy house.

She wanted very much to be a good mom. In the beginning, it was easy. It required lots of time and care and hugs and kisses. She was good at giving all of these things.

Then the children started to grow. And talk back. Then they became thinkers and question- askers and within 3 years into this venture of motherhood, she was way in over her head. But she kept plodding along. Because she used to have a fat lip. And that's what recovered Fatlips do, they plod along.

One of the biggest surprises to this sweet little redhaired girl when she grew up, was how difficult it actually is to maintain a household, be a good mom, and have energy and a smile for all the many other things she had to do in a day.

But she plodded along.

One day she decided her kids watched too much television. She didn't even have a tv when she was growing up. She tries and tries to recall what her mom did with her all day if they didn't have a tv. She remembers gigantic trash bags full of popcorn, hammering nails into her front lawn, a couple of pyro incidents, and a prematurely lost tooth---but not much else.

Since she knows that it can be done, she resolves every night as she lays in bed, "Tomorrow I will only let the kids watch one show each and my sweet little firstborn son will only spend an hour on the computer." Each day the resolve fail. She sets a place at the dinner table for Uncle Nick Jr. Her daughter's imaginary friends are named, Max, Dora, and Wubbzy. It is a sad, sad state of affairs.

Finally, empowered by having gone to boot camp, gotten 52 loads of laundry done, a basement organized, and a healthy diet maintained for 33 straight hours, she makes the change. The tv is turned off.

There is weeping. There is pleading. There is screeching. There is bargaining. There is ignoring. But she stands her ground and the tv stays off.

She decides to "entertain" the children with enlisting their help in making a pot of soup.

She entices the kids with using a familiar line from a well-loved fable, "Who will help me plant some soup in the soup pot?"

The darling children, who were only moments before screeching and threatening to blind someone, if not themselves, come running gleefully into the kitchen. They stand together on a chair and fight over who gets to dump the onions in the pot.

She is happy. This is better than tv.

Then a brawl over a dropped piece of carrot ensues. She lets her mind drift away to a happier time when Unsupervised Max & Ruby were tending them. There were no carrots. There were no cutting boards in danger of being knocked from the counter. There were no kitchen brawls.

Soon it is time to chop the cabbage.

Helpful child #2 complains that the stove is hot and she doesn't want to burn her arm off ever again. Because she's done it 3 times before? No, because she's dramatic and also doesn't know the meaning of the phrase "ever again".

Sweet Joy of His Mother's heart #1 swipes half the veggies and is tries to fit them in the small, should-be-nonexistent space between the counter and the stove, before she realized where her veggies were going. He exuberantly notes that cabbage is an easier fit than carrots.

And the incessant chatter.
And the whining.
And the endless questions about what things are and where they go and why.

For the love of soup!

Helper #2 climbs down. For the preservation of her arms. She announces, "I'm gonna play with Chowlie and LOW-la."

Helper #1 cries out, "No fay-oh! I'm not gonna get any of this soup if I don't help you make it and she gets to watch tv!" With his bottom lip trembling, he pleads, "Can I please go watch Chahlie and Lola?" Suddenly, he realizes something just as he finishes his sentence. The girl who once loved kids but grew up and had kids of her own, sees the light go off in his eyes, and she wonders what he's figured out.

He jumps off of the chair and yells joyfully, "I CAN watch Chahlie and Lola! I don't have to help you make the soup so I can eat some. I don't even LIKE vegetable soup!"

Innocent little girl who always wanted to be a mom and grew up and now realizes, including the culottes in 2nd grade, the blue eye shadow in eighth grade, and the Aqua-chastity-Net hairdo of 10th grade, she was a pretty stupid child.

There is no such thing as a perfect mom.

30 comments:

Alicia said...

I think I have said it before, you are my blog hero! This entry is one of my favorites, evoh!

Millie said...

Dear, dear girl. :)

seven said...

This is a great post.

TheVasquez3 said...

perfect is totally over rated anyway. i am good enough, i try, that's all that matters. who is keeping score anyway??

do your thing jelly bean...come what may.

portuguesa nova said...

I have not yet admitted it out loud, but I am thinking about getting rid of our cable so that the tv can only be used by adults at a time when only adults are awake. (Serving the dual purpose of helping my child kick the Super Why and helping me kick the Celebreality.)

There. There! I said it.

Perhaps we could work together compiling a list of "stuff that works just as well as the television in turning our children into lumps of dough whilst sitting in front of it". Then I'll really seriously think about pulling the plug.

But here's my confession: We've already had a tv-free test run day. Notice I said DAY. Not week, not month, not even weekend. And what did we do for a good solid couple of hours during that day? Watched the teeny tiny 30-second videos on the digital camera that I had yet to transfer to our computer and e-mail to the grandparents.

It's like crack, those moving images.

Big Jay said...

Not true Angela. Oprah is the perfect Mom.

Oh wait.

Breit Mama said...

Perfect Schmerfect! I love you just the way you are, skinny lip and all! But I agree w/ child #1, veggie soup??????

Tori :) said...

Great post!! I loved it! It sounds all too familiar...

Beckie said...

Oh Nobody! I just love you sooo. Remember if you need a escape we can make a break for Puerto Rico toghether.....or anywhere they don't allow children or husbands ( i need a breeak for him too, but just a little one. Seriously call me.

glittersmama said...

Chahlie and Lola are an excellent choice of friends. As are Max and Ruby.

Emily said...

You might consider chocolate soup. Or Pringles soup.

S said...

Hey one does have to have a fat lip to plod.

S said...

Gosh darn it that was..... one doesn't have to have a fat lip to plod!

Rebecca said...

i feel your pain sister!! :) a silly girl in a silly world.. where life is not at all what you think.. but plod along we must!!

Anonymous said...

I have to come out of the stalker tracker and comment...I would have sworn you were looking in through my windows, but you have a child or two missing from that picture...and I guess my hair isn't red..does gray count? Form Zillah Gunn

Jeana said...

You might try cooking with one kid at a time. My husband cooks with all four of ours at the same time, but it makes me crazy.

Michelle Garff said...

funny enough, our tv broke 2 weeks ago. it hasn't been replaced nor will it be soon. i thought we would all die, but it has been awesome. the boys don't even ask anymore. x is into playdoh and nickjr.com and actually playing with all those toys in his room. he even stopped asking if the tv was broke. doesn't even care anymore. love your blogging! love you!

Michelle Garff said...

btw, have you read the blog of thepioneerwoman.com????? if not, do so, if so, we must chat about it.

Sketchy said...

He doesn't even like vegetable soup. Oh my. I love that boy, I tell you!

Keep on plodding, just think if it were always so easy what would you have to curse your children with when they grow up and have kids of their own? Hmmmmm????

omar said...

That "aha!" moment your kid had, that's the kind of thing I like to read about when it happens to someone else, but I fear the day it happens to me.

But let's get to the real issue, here. The issue of your kids wanting to watch Charlie and Lola. My kid watched that show ONCE and suddenly started speaking with an accent. Have yours started demanding fish and chips for dinner? Or asking for the "As Time Goes By" DVD box set for Christmas?

Physcokity said...

bwahaha "aqua-chastity-net"

Emily said...

I. love. you.

nicely written, little girl with the red hair.

Michelle said...

Awesome post!

elasticwaistbandlady said...

You are perfect in your imperfection....and so am I!

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Every time I see your blog title I start singing that song! Every. time.

"Well your nobody called today, she hung up when I asked her name, well I wonder, does she think she's being clever?"

Kikibug said...

HAHAHAHA! I LOVE you stories. You make it sound way better no matter what happens.
I also agree with Child #1.. "I don't even LIKE veggie soup!".
Your kids are way too smart, that is what you get for being a smarty pants.

J Ehlers said...

Alright, your last post made me have to jump in.
I have been singing that song since yesterday when I found your blog. It wasn't even the greatest song ever, but it gets stuck in your brain - like a cheap caramel in your filling.

Sals said...

ooohhhh I totally hear you...except for the part about actually turning the tv off...I'm still at the thinking about it part...and as for the computer part...that hasn't as yet entered my mind...I mean I wouldn't just be hearing the whining from J. now...I'd be hearing it from my husband too...being a network engineer he feels it necessary from the age of 3 to give our eldest a computer of his very own...what the???? (oh and i totally agree with Michelle...you need to read the pioneer womans blog -theres a link from my blog to her - it gives me my daily laughs!)

EarthBint said...

Oh, that Bo is a smart one!
You could try macaroni jewelry with avee, burping contests with Bo and toilet flushing competitons with Danyo.

Traci said...

This post is the BEST.

My favorite image is the carrots and cabbage in the crack. Shoot.

You gotta love when they start realizing they don't HAVE to do anything.

I was just wondering, though...is your other little boy also adored? (he,he,he)

P.S. big jay's comment made me LOL.

Do you think Uniqua is an OK parental substitute?