Commerical Motherhood

I found myself watching a stupid Glad trash bag commercial today, looking at the kid in the commercial being so wonderfully helpful taking out the trash and I caught myself thinking, “What could I have done differently to make The Boy helpful like that?” How ridiculous is that? That I would compare my flesh and blood, wonderfully smart and creative Boy to some caricature “son” on a commercial? Seriously?!?

This, I’ve found, is what the need to judge my aptitude as a mother does to me. My own innate over-achiever spills over into every other space in my life; the tide rising until all joy is choked out of it. My perfectionist nature takes over everything from sweeping the floors to raising my children.

So that when one of them knocks something off a shelf in the grocery store I immediately look around to see if anyone is watching. Or, more to the point, if there were any other mothers watching. And knowing that it is futile and just plain mean to throw the brunt of my disappointment at my children, I immediately turn it on myself. If I was watching more closely, if I had instilled better manners or listening skills into them, if I kept them on a tighter leash, perhaps then they would be the perfect, rosy cheeked angels they have the potential for. And perhaps I would be up for mother of the year, and always have perfect hair, minty breath and non-Cheetos smeared clothes.

The whole thing is simply crazy. In the most classic, off the walls, I’ve got serious African bats in my belfry kind of way. And I know it. But I still find myself watching harmless commercials while my hand stealthily reaches for something with which to beat myself about the head and shoulders. Over what? Over some self appointed need to be perfect at everything I do? Over the need to always appear like I know exactly what I’m doing?

I was prepared for motherhood to be messy and hard. All the books, my friends and everyone else prepared me for that fact. But none of them prepared me for what I would do to myself.

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