We spent Grace's birthday (this April) in Texas. At Grandma's house. I thought she would have more fun there than cramped in our itty bitty house in a city with almost nothing to do.
And it was quite the eventful trip. But in the wrong sort of way. The night we pulled in, I went to bed feeling ill. I woke up vomiting. And then Claire got sick. And then Weston. And during the entire trip, Rose screamed more than she slept.
So maybe I was on edge. Or maybe there is no excuse and I am always this way (more likely). But at some point, Grace (the only well child) became very slightly mischievous in an effort to find something to do, and I got impatient. Mad. I lectured her. (I don't think I yelled this time, which is lucky.)
When I finished, Grace looked down at the rubber ball she was holding and asked, "Mom, do you think I'm mostly good, or mostly bad?" My heart cracked open.
And just seeing it written here, reliving it, makes me ache all over again.
I can't remember exactly how I responded. Looking back now, I hope I ran to her and told her she was so good. Is so good. I know at some point I told her that just because you don't think clearly before you do something doesn't make you bad.
We talked about natural consequences. Like what would happen if she continued to the throw the rubber ball against the walls in the house. And then we looked for alternatives. Like: where could we throw the ball where it wouldn't damage anything? And what could we do with it to make it more fun?
We spent the next hour together, giddily playing outside with this ridiculous homemade ping-pong ball slingshot that was the result of our conversation.
It made me realize that the main reason Grace gets into trouble is because she's bored and she comes up with creative and sometimes somewhat destructive ways to cure her boredom. It made me remember what I tell people; why I keep coming back to homeschooling her eventually: the girl is bored. And I don't know why it's taken me eight years to really internalize this fact and actually try to help her out.
Motherhood is a challenge. It's hard. And it's lovely. And there's this lurking, hovering, paralyzing fear that I'm messing it all up, that I'm not connecting enough, that I don't know enough. that they'll grow up to be gun-toting drug dealers who hate me and everything I tried to teach them.
To raise these people who have bits of you and bits of someone else and somewhere up in their ancestry bits of people you never counted on... all that is like trying to put together a puzzle without a picture of what it looks like.
Sometimes I feel like I'm breaking their hearts. Or I'm not teaching them what I should. Or I'm lecturing them too much and not teaching them the right way. There's so much at stake; how can I be sure I'm doing what I should be?