I had a teacher back in high school, an ex-nun who liked to stir the pot with her line of thinking. Nothing else about her seemed extraordinary—she was rigid, lacked femininity, and was extremely uncharismatic. But every once in a while, she would drop a thought bomb, and it was usually something to give my teenage-self pause.
This one day she was speaking about Mary (did I mention that she taught religion?), and she said, “You know, Mary was still a mother. You can bet that she lost her temper when her son misbehaved. You can bet that she yelled at him and threatened to punish him, too.” Even as a teenager I knew this was important to remember. That even a major figure like Jesus misbehaved as a child, and even the most prayed to mother in all of history lost her cool.
I was remembering this the other day because I lost my cool. I lost it because my kids were bickering all day. I lost it because I resented having to lock myself in the bathroom for a few minutes of peace. I lost it because I was majorly PMSing. I lost it because, when my daughter said that she just wanted to “finish her show,” I had assumed there were only a few minutes left, not that it was still at the opening credits.
I lost it. And then I felt guilty. And then I wanted to apologize for losing it. But by then my kids were already asleep, and I was left sitting in my guilt, as moms are often left to do.
This led me, in the dark of night, down a rabbit hole of self-imploding thoughts.
I generally consider myself a spiritual person. I like to think deep. I like to take my mind to the darkest and lightest places within myself. I like to consider existence and humanity from all angles. When I am alone, I can feel mighty at peace.
But, put me in a room with my kids when they’re bickering and I’ll lose it. I don’t necessarily start to yell (right away), but I will immediately feel my brain begin to split into multiple little shards, and I’m certain that a piece falls permanently into the abyss after each incident. Since they bicker all the time, that’s a lot of missing pieces. And unless I’m able to nip it in the bud, if it’s just a day where they’re feeling fighty, undoubtedly I get a little yelly.
So then I wonder, am I really all that connected if I also lose my cool? Shouldn’t I be zen, and composed, and speak in hushed tones? Shouldn’t I have constant control over myself?
The thing is, I’m also human. I can strive to improve, but I need to allow space for those instances when the yelly comes out.
I expect my kids to be human, to have their feelings and make their mistakes. I’ll point out their mistakes in order to teach them a better way, but I always forgive them their humanity. Why is it so hard to forgive my own? I always teach them to forgive each other’s humanity, why not ask them to forgive my own?
Is it because I’m expected to be better than this, always and forever?
The entire concept of the super-mom is faulty only in that it implies that we are super-human, rather than human, too; we forget to allow ourselves to be people, too.
As a mom, I am the keeper of the calendar, the keeper of the home, the one who knows what size shoes to buy and how many pairs of shorts have been outgrown. As a mom, I know what food to buy, what colour is currently the favourite, what holes need mending. As a mom I know when there’s a secret to be shared or a secret to be mindful of, I know when feelings are hurt and feelings are fragile, I know when silence is not a good thing. As a mom, I know that my kids are strong, but that they are also vulnerable, and that I need to balance on the tightrope between this dichotomy every day.
As a person, as a human, I have to acknowledge that this tightrope exists for me too. Most of the time I am strong. But sometimes, sometimes, I fall. When I fall—when I cry, when I rant, when I need or when the yelly comes out—I need to remember that it’s allowed and that it happens, even to the best of us. Even to the super-moms.
If I had a cape, I wouldn’t use it to fly. Rather, I’d use it to curl up with, in the darkness of night. In the moments when I am feeling most human.