Amidst all the anxious parenting and daily fears that I'm messing them up, there are occasional glimpses revealing otherwise...
Last Thursday, Syd was scheduled for a routine counseling appointment. All was according to plan until the last five minutes before departure. I was anticipating a quiet drive followed by a peaceful hour to finish homework while my oldest stayed home with my youngest. My oldest, however, had other plans. Basically, we all had this idea in each of our minds of how the night was going to go, none of us consulting another. Somer wanted to be home, Sav wanted to go to a sidewalk sale, I wanted to catch up on school, and Syd just wanted to get through therapy.
We all piled into the Honda. And, on our way to the appointment, it hit the fan. As in, major, female, hormonal explosion.
It's easy in such moments to feel that such troubles are reserved solely for the divorced.
But, it's universal. It's normal. It's family. It's life.
We arrived at the counselor's, a bit tattered and scathed.
"Can you walk me in?" Syd asked.
The other girls followed.
"Wow, the whole family!" our counselor said joyfully, as the four of us faked smiles.
"Look at you, you look so OLD, Sav! And, Somer, you're so TALL! Are you ready, Syd?"
I chimed in.
"Syd's actually hoping for a family session," I said, "But, Sav's not really feeling it. Somer is neutral and I'll do whatever." I was fighting tears, feeling young and inept in my mothering, wishing for someone to just take over. The thought of joining a fundamentalist cult was suddenly not just reasonable, but appealing.
Sav bravely obliged and the four of us managed to enter a cozy counseling room, each of us discarding our shoes as we settled in on comfy couches, preparing for battle.
"Stop," Syd whispered immediately to Somer who was obliviously, yet noisily, stroking the sequins on her fake Uggs.
"She's ok," our counselor whispered back, "She's distracting herself."
I swallowed a lump in my throat, missing simpler days when my biggest problems were finding matching jumpers for my toddlers and contemplating the perfect paint color for my dining room.
Somer quickly fell asleep, abandoning both the sequins and questions while Sav eventually found safety and unloaded, though not without caution. Syd acknowledged all sides before melting down about her diabetes. I went numb and "escaped to logic" as the counselor pleaded, "But how do you feel?" I paused. "I think both Sav and Syd need to feel significance...And, I think that is normal, human, and possible. I think I need to work harder to make that happen." She asked again, "I don't want to know what you think. I want to know how you feel right now after hearing their words."
Feigning stoic, I paused again.
"I feel like a bad mom."
And, then I cried.
And, they cried.
We managed to hash things out without anger, getting a lot of needed stuff out into the open for discussion and solution. I was, once again, forced to confront my weaknesses and vowed, like many times before, to work on them - like [my lack of] order, structure, planning.
I said things I loved about each of them.
"So and so," Syd said, choking back tears, has a really bad relationship with her mom. But, I really love my mom."
I realize they won't always like me. Despite how hard I try to fix my shortcomings, I will fail. They will fail. But, amidst our failures, we will hopefully remember nights like these, and try again.
s, s, and s...xoxo