As I sit back this morning trying to recuperate from yet another birthday, I have to reflect upon a wise woman's blog post of recent; Real World Mom and "The Superwoman Myth". The blog was short and sweet (unlike my long ramblings), and it made complete sense. I'm very tired this morning, so if some of this doesn't make sense, you can understand why, because I was trying to be just that.... a Superwoman/mom.
I spent 99% of yesterday physically, emotionally, and psychologically throwing myself into my daugher's birthday. I though that if it wasn't the most perfect day of the year,that I, as a mother, would be a failure as a mother, caretaker, nurture, and as a person. The day had it's ups and downs because my four year old daughter decided it was the best day of the year to run around as if I had let her play in a sandbox full of Domino's sugar while she ate it too. Plus she also thought it a good idea to throw a temper tantrum about every 10 minutes while we were at the mall as Toni picked out a personal present for herself.
Let me tell you, I felt like a failure from about 1- 5 pm, when one of her friends who wasn't on a last minute vacation before school started, showed up for ice cream cake and presents. Everything that I thought I was suppose to do for my daughter's birthday never materialized; not even close!
We decided to take Toni bowling for the afternoon and she had invited my oldest daughters best friend, Emily, to join us. Poor Emily; even though ALL of us were having the absolutely worse bowling scores ever (even our experience practicing on Wii didn't help us here), she had a total score of 14 by the end of the game. So as a Superwoman/mother, I was caught in making my daughter's birthday enjoyable, running all over the bowling alley chasing Nia down, and bringing Emily's spirits out of the gutter over her bowling score.
We eventually went to Toni's birthday lunch choice; Moe's Southwestern Grill to meet my husband for the whole 20 minutes he had for lunch during the day. Ordering for seven people became a very loud chaotic mess, and the whole restaurant was looking at us like we were extra's from the movie Deliverance as Nia continues to run all over the place without her shoes on as Julian tries to catch her. It was a real redneck moment! Emily wasn't looking too good either. Frankly, I think all the mayhem and chaos of the day so far, was getting to her at this point. If you're not use to being in my family of crazies, it takes some getting use to and the poor girl was getting a crash course!
Emily kept saying she was just tired, but she looked more like she was either going to past out or hurl on the floor in front of me. She was only exhibiting signs of the same stuff I was feeling, but I was desperately trying to shove in my own psychological and emotional closet in order for Toni to have a nice day.
I wanted to take her home so she wouldn't have to be exposed to what I knew was coming next: Nia becoming a basketcase and Toni trying to sprint through every store in the mall grabbing pretty much everything as her "personal" birthday present as I explained to her that the state of our bank account, and the national economy dictate that she choose only one thing.
PLUS I'm trying to save money back for a trip to New Orleans before school starts - but that's another story.
As predicted, Toni went wild asking for stuff, Nia was into everything and if we tried to stop her, the "drag her out of the store" meltdowns escalated and ensued. I'm trying to put on a smile and "act" as if everything is okay when it's not. I'm trying to focus on Toni, help Julian with Nia, and watch over Emily's symptoms all at the same time. Nadia was somewhere in the picture, but it was all a blur so I'm not sure where until we hit Old Navy for some quick clothes shopping.
Julian had locked Nia in the store-supplied stroller (THANK GOD!), and proceed entertain her with Indy style stunts up and down empty aisles while the girls and I could focus on Toni. I felt so guilty that I tried to talk Emily into letting me buy her a pair of corduroy's she was admiring and eventually tried on. I failed again as she refused my offer.
Someone asked me recently how I "manage" to parent four kids. I have NO stinking idea! Toni's birthday was no exception either. I want to give her the best day possible, complete with flowers, balloons, tacky clowns, all the presents she wants, and a inflatable jumping gym like they have at fairs. I wanted her to be Queen of the day with all her wishes coming true. Instead, I have settled for a crappy game of bowling, an out-of-control four year old, and my own issues of being a failure as a mom.
My son Julian and I literally had to take turns carrying Nia out of the mall kicking and screaming the whole way. Out of extreme guilt of not providing what "I thought" was a perfect birthday for Toni so far, I let her pick out several things as a personal birthday present at Old Navy. This set me back almost $100 which I have yet to confess to my husband.
So much for the travel fund to New Orleans.
We get home and Emily quickly disappears into her house. She probably went to hide in the confines of her own Superwoman/mother's arms while trying to escape the insane experience she had with my family. I had become a failure on my daughter's birthday, to my other daughter's friend, and in the "don't look like an asshole in public in front of your family", department.
When we got back home, I had 45 minutes to get my crap together before Toni's friend came over. I took 30 of those minutes winding down after the whole mall episode. I wanted to cry, apologize to Toni, wave a magic wand so that the day would be perfect again for her. I prepared hamburgers instead while Nadia and Julian frantically blowed balloons and set up the backyard for a little party for the girl.
Toni's friend Maddie showed and I felt a sense of peace knowing that now her birthday might resemble something of normalcy instead of the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants crap that had been going on so far.
They played, watched TV, worked on some computer games together as the rest of us prepared for dinner. Dinner was ready as soon as my husband walked in and we joined Toni in a picnic in the backyard; complete with flies and all.
Damn! Who invited the flies?
It seemed that upon sitting down for plates of grilled hamburgers, beans, and broccoli (Toni DID choose the menu), a real party began to emerge. That is until it was time to serve the ice cream birthday cake. Up until that moment, all seemed almost perfect for Toni. Then I had to misplace the birthday candles, and all the while I was searching for them cause my kitchen sits in four different places since I began this whole remodeling mess, that damn cake started to melt.
I had just taken a picture of a perfect birthday cake and decided to make one last attempt to find the candles when I look over and the blue icing on the edges had suddenly dripped to the bottom of the cake, and the frosting had decided to join the icing as well.
There was a frantic call for everyone to run outside to sing Happy Birthday as the cake was dripping all over the place as I ran with it. That is the FASTEST I have ever sung that song!
But of course, Toni only cared about how big of piece she was going to get at that point.
Toni unwrapped presents to much glee, then it was time to pole slam the pinata'. My kids have had an obsession with these things for about five years now, and this birthday is no exception. In my Superwoman/mom ways, I am obsessed with making sure everyone stands back far enough because I've seen one too many kids whacked with a pole as if someone is trying to send the pinata' in for a home run.
My biggest worry is on Nia cause she is adamant about getting what's in that pinata', and she keeps trying to run to the paper-covered thing every few seconds. I finally have to play mean mommie and tell her she's going inside for the rest of the party if she doesn't stand back.
I'm still paranoid, but everything is going okay until one of the last few whacks that Toni's gives it lands across the knuckles of Julian's left hand as he makes the mistake of taking a minor sprint towards this thing thinking that the last hit was the one to unload gobs of candy and cheap toys on the ground below his feet.
This was his own defining moment when he realized it was time to give up on the whole day. He licked his own physical and emotional wounds and left for the quiet seclusion of his room for most of the evening after that. He later told me that he worked so hard on Toni's birthday because all he wanted was a chance at that pinata'.
I told you my kids were obsessed with these things.
I, again, felt like a failure as a Superwoman/mom cause I couldn't fix all things for all my kids, and the neighbors kid, on this day. This is why Real World Mom's post struck me so hard when I read it because it made me question why we as mother's and parents put so much emphasis in making sure most aspects of our children's and our husband's lives are perfect.
Somewhere during the feminist movement, wires were crossed when someone eloquently stated that "women could do anything". I'm sorry, NO THEY CANNOT! We work, we take care of children, we take care of our homes, we solve domestic/economic/world problems, but please do not expect that we can do all these things simultaneously while baking the perfect cake in our spotless Christian Dior dress, and not a hair out of place!
Superwomen/moms are only human - not super human. I don't ever recall Marvel Comics making a SuperMom character, and if they did, they can trash it now because it's completely unbelievable in this day and age.
There are so many books and articles written today on how to be the perfect parent in child's life that it only adds to the guilt if you are not religiously following each and every piece of advice dished out like yesterdays leftovers from dinner. We live in an age where both parents work, bank accounts are being depleted faster than we can replenish, kids are exposed way too early to things most of us didn't deal with until we were in our thirties, dinner is on the fly, day-care centers and soccer fields become the new surrogate parents, we all are trying to do the best we can, but there is still some freaking idiot out there telling us "You are still NOT doing enough to ensure the perfect life for your child and/or family!".
I don't know about all of you, but I'm real tired of the pressure that the current society is putting on parents to be "perfect"; it's impossible to accomplish. How about telling us to do the best with what we've been handed to on a tarnished tin plate. How about telling us to be human with our families and not Superhuman, or Superwoman, or Superman. How about ending the constant commercials that tell us we aren't reading enough, or playing enough, or talking enough to our kids while on the other hand your telling us to give up our personal time with our families cause we aren't making enough money to meet societies economic standard in that department because we haven't acquired all the stuff needed to create that perfect life for our kids.
How about corporations realizing that the need to put our families first, and our jobs second, is far more important cause we are raising the people who just might work for their corporations in the future! I guess they didn't think about that in Business and Economics 101 back when we were in college, now did they?
How about other parents stop judging each other because I/we/they don't live up to the same expectations/standards that I/we/they think they should.
Instead of my daughter's birthday being just that: my daughter's birthday. I succumbed to the same bullshit I scrutinize here; I let myself fall hook-line-and-sinker into what I thought was acceptable to societies standards of a birthday for my daughter: entertain the shit out of her until I dropped dead from exhaustion, and make sure I take the rest of my family and neighborhood with me during the process.
I apologize to my daughter, my daughter's friend, and to my family for making a complete mess out of the day. I promise that birthday's will be on our own terms and individualized to your needs and personality. I promise to put your needs first instead of worrying about how I will be judged in the parental department if I don't present you with a crystal-laden pony and Cirque de Soleil performing in the backyard. I promise to make your day, and your day only.
I promise not to act like a stupid Superwoman/mom as much as I possibly can, and just be the person God made me to be; a mom with a four kids, whom I love and care for dearly.