I am a Mom. By virtue of the fact that I have borne four wonderful children and am responsible, together with my husband, for their care and upbringing. But sometimes, in those crevices of the mind where doubts and worries lurk, I suspect I’m unworthy of the title. I love my children dearly and want only the best for them, but life is messy in the journey from intention to completion.
Mind numbing fatigue was the perpetual fog I existed in. Between the cries of my ten month old son, or the kicks of my daughter who was yet to be born, sleep was elusive. It was spring and time for my firstborn to be subjected to the rigours of Kindergarten interviews and assessments. This was daunting for me as the mother. We judge our own parenting harshly enough at times, but to have the fruits of these labours evaluated by some unknown expert is intimidating
Individual assessments preceded the interview and my husband and I watched with mounting anxiety. Did our son pour dry rice into containers as well as the other children? Did he jump as high or as far as the others? Were his lines sufficiently straight for judgement to be passed in his favour? Was my son ‘enough’ to be accepted?
With great trepidation we moved from the assessment to the interview. We gathered around a table, four adults perched on chairs designed specifically for children, attempting to find a comfortable position. You must remember I was well into my last trimester of pregnancy by this time, and my stomach had lost any ability to restrain itself. I began to sweat profusely, partly from the stress of the situation, partly from wildly fluctuating hormones. I fervently prayed this would be a brief and painless experience.
My husband has been blessed with a much less flappable personality than my own, so fielded the questions directed towards us in a relaxed, easygoing manner. It was then that the interviewers turned their attention to our son. They placed some materials on the table, some papers, pencils, crayons, and a scissor. Now you must understand, we had three boys aged 4, 3, and 10 months in the house, and I had made what I deemed to be a prudent parenting decision that scissors would not be made available to my children at this time. In the sing-song fashion perfected by these experts in education, my son was asked what he would like to do with these materials. His eyes focused on the scissors and grew wide. He indicated that he would like to use them. The smiling interviewers handed him the scissors and a piece of paper interspersed with shapes and lines. They asked if he would like to cut out some of the shapes.
My son clutched the scissors reverently for a time, stroking the shiny silver blades. He then turned his attention to the paper. It was in this moment I knew our interview was taking a turn for the worst. He picked up the paper and began to cut. He gave no heed to lines suggesting the path on which he should cut, but instead began cutting feverishly, reducing the paper to confetti in what felt like mere seconds. The interviewers maintained their calm façade, and cheerfully tried to redirect him to a colouring sheet. Would he perhaps like to demonstrate his knowledge of colour and crayon control at this time? My son looked at these ladies and smiled very sweetly, then proceeded to cut the paper into tiny pieces. I felt compelled to point out there was a lovely assortment of squares, triangles and rectangles in the debris which surely demonstrated his knowledge of shapes. I was ignored as these ladies exchanged concerned glances and continued to feed him paper only to watch him devour it in an almost maniacal fashion.
Balancing my ungainly shape precariously on the miniature chair, I attempted to control my tears and interrupt this paper massacre. It was obvious I needed to right grave parenting wrongs. I explained that we had a busy house with three little boys whose little sister was soon to make an arrival. I was so exhausted, awkward and uncomfortable, and I had never exposed my children to scissors. Feeling this was a confession of sorts, I continued to spill out all the ugly truth hidden behind the closed doors of our home. I did not take my children to special reading classes at the library, they were involved in no sport development programs, (and that probably explained any deficiencies in jumping they may have noticed), I did not explore number concepts with them at home, and in a final, ugly, revelation, I declared that they may have ingested a hotdog or two and the nitrates from those said hotdogs had probably rendered them incapable of the higher level learning that was obviously expected of them at this fine institution of learning.
My normally composed husband began to show some angst, wondering how to delicately extract his hormonal wife and delinquent son from the interview he had performed so well at. He guided us lovingly to the van, and proceeded to the nearest fast food restaurant. We were taking our son out for a meal, just the three of us, to celebrate this milestone in his life. Our son chattered happily about how nice the ladies were, how bright the classroom was, and how sure he was that he would love going there. Choking back tears and chemicals masquerading as a burger, I asked him what his favourite part of the morning had been. With a happy smile he replied, “Mommy, they let me play with scissors! That was my favourite part.” He paused to take a bite then continued, “And this part now, going out for lunch with just Mommy and Daddy.”
Feeling the cathartic effects that only confession can bring, I sat back in the booth and smiled at this wonderfully unique child. It is said that love covers a multitude of sins, and that the heart of the matter can be more important than the end of it. We had love and heart in spades in our home. And maybe, just maybe, when our children are grown, they will forgive me for not enrolling them in a lot of extra-curricular enrichments. Maybe they will thank me for providing them with siblings, whom I pray will grow up to be the best of friends. I know I’m not doing things perfectly, but maybe in the end, the title of ‘Mom’ is not one that’s earned but simply one that’s bestowed upon us as a blessing despite our unworthiness.
Maybe love never had anything to do with worth.