I have always vowed to not be ‘that mother’. You know, the one we all judge. The one losing her shit on her kid at the mall. I had that mother. I did use the word ‘had’.
I maintain that I am not her, and will not make her mistakes. I am a fantastic mother, I work hard at it everyday, but I do have a temper. Just like her, and now, I have realised, she did the best she could with the skills she had.
Before Paisley, I would think nothing of getting into an all out shouting match with Shaughn. It was how I was raised. We would argue and I would forget it an hour later, while he was still nursing his wounds. I did not fight fair. I called names, I blamed, I swore, and mostly I was a bitch.
Then came along my daughter. My protegé, the child who will one day swear she will NOT be me. She will tell her friends about all the mistakes I made in raising her, and she will vehemently pledge that she will not make the same choices in raising her child. And then one day, she will do what I did last night.
We recently adopted a new cat, her name is Alice and she is now close to 6 months. Still a baby in my eyes. Paisley adores Alice, Alice does not reciprocate those feelings. She tolerates the petting, the holding and the picking up. She is a really good cat. My three-year old is not a good cat owner. She picks that poor cat up, she holds her down while she pets her fur backwards, she tries to carry her around like a baby. Typical behaviour for a three-year old.
Yesterday, said three-year old wanted to see if the cat would land on all four paws from the top of a flight of steps. The cat flew, but thankfully I was there to catch her. No easy feat to catch a cat who is freaking the hell out because a well-meaning, and interested child just hurled her down 15 steps. Thankfully I caught the cat. I wish I had caught a reign on my temper with the same dexterity and grace that I used to catch Alice.
I stomped my ass up the stairs and I laid in to my daughter, “don’t you EVER pick up that goddamn cat again. If I see you picking her up, I will fucking call the vet and take her back. Get to your room now or I will get you there. Go.”
Yes, I said those words. I did not yell them (I don’t think I did anyway), but as soon as they left my mouth I regretted each of them. As Paisley stood there with tears in her eyes (I think more from the fact that I was going to get rid of her cat, not the fact that I was as angry as I was) I saw the last 7 years of my life happen.
I remember when Shaughn and I decided to try to start having kids, I remembered the first and second miscarriages. I remember vowing to be the best mother ever if God would just give me a baby to hold and love. I remembered the crazy infertility drugs and schedules, I remembered the heartbreak each month when I was pregnant. I would make deals with God, I would go to mass every Sunday, I would volunteer…I remember getting pregnant, and then finding out that she too probably wouldn’t make it. More deals with God. And I remember the day that all my prayers were answered, and my baby was born against all odds, and she was perfect. She is perfect.
And now, indelibly marked in my mind, will forever be the day that I swore at my daughter, over a cat. I am beyond ashamed. I am mortified. I could cry.
I am stressed beyond belief these days, Shaughn leaves us at 8:45, not to be seen until 10pm. My job is long, and with no help after work things just seem that much longer. I feel like a guitar string that is pulled taut, and one wrong movement, I’m going to break. Well, I did break.
I know I need to do better, and I will do better. I apologised to Pais after I had calmed down, I explained that I was feeling angry, but that doesn’t mean that I can say mean things to the people I love. She was just worried I was going to give the cat away.
I am still figuring this mothering thing out. I am really trying to figure out the single mothering thing. I have a whole new respect for people raising children partnerless. My hat goes off to all of you.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. A shoulder. A lecture. Anything. Feel free to admonish.