Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Box

My mom is amazing.  She's an amazing artist, person, and grandmother, too, not just amazing as a mom.  I'm one of only three people in the world, however, who get to judge her directly on the mom-front, and the vote is unanimous that she is the best.

I've been struggling with how well I measure up in that role lately.  I know I am good enough most days, and there are moments I'm satisfied that I've done something I can be proud of, but I've never felt more inadequate to the task than in recent years.  I appreciate most of the freedom I have now that my kids are more independent compared to the baby and toddler years, but I miss the relative simplicity of their worlds being so small.  Often the first time I see them on an average day is when I get home from work.  They are beyond my reach.  It's a helpless feeling.  I worry I should be doing more for them but it's hard to know what.

When I look back on my own childhood and think about how much my mom managed to do, I can't figure out how she did it.  She would sew us real clothes, not just Halloween costumes.  She kept the house much cleaner than I'm able to keep my own and certainly changed the sheets more often.  She tended the garden, did all the bookkeeping, did all the labor at the art gallery full time, and somehow also maintained her career as a successful artist.

And then there was the food.  My mom prepared us excellent homemade meals every day.  I don't remember us ever getting food delivery or take out when we were growing up.  Once my brothers and I were intrigued by the look of something called "pizza" on a Little Caesar's commercial, and we asked if we could try some, so the next night my mom served up homemade pizza in the same broad pan she made lasagna in.  It didn't look the same as in the commercials (shapes are strangely important to kids, and the ones in the adds were circles cut into triangles and this was a rectangle cut into squares, so that was distracting) but it was good.  I don't remember her making it again, though.  In our house (usually on a Wednesday when I leave work early to take Quinn across town to Latin after school then have to pick up Aden right afterward so the two of them can do violin lessons until 7:00) there is often actual Little Caesar's pizza on the table so that people coming and going can grab something to eat before getting shuttled to the next place.  It's fine, I don't really beat myself up about it, but I know my mom would have managed it differently somehow and I am awestruck.