My five big kids are going away today for four days.
Two to their grandmother’s house
and three to an escape camp for siblings with difficult lives.
Apparently having Ivy for a sister is hard.
When we woke this morning Ivy asked when they would be home
and when I answered
she commented (in a totally seven year old, non thinking way)
‘good, because it’s only fun when they’re at home.’
I’m not going to lie and tell you that didn’t hurt.
I haven’t been that kind of mother,
that kind of person
for a very long time -
I have always been the rule maker,
the lesson teacher,
the bad cop to everyone’s good
and I will admit that I gave up trying to be the sole mother of the small pair years ago.
When you have lots of older kids in the house
parenting becomes a group affair.
I don’t ‘play’ with them because there have always been younger, more energetic preferences.
I don’t do any of those things because I have more or less been pushed out of the way.
I make the play dough but I’m not the right company for the modelling of it.
I mix up the colours but I’m not a part of the art group.
I teach but I’m not a member of the class
isn’t it supposed to be like that anyway?
I’m not sure.
When Imogen and Madeline were little
and when Lily was small
I was very hands on.
I taught them everything I knew about the world.
I taught them nursery rhmes
and how to dress a dolly.
I taught them about art and crafts
and anything else I thought would broaden their universe.
When AJ and Mal came into our lives
I taught them too
but when it came to Ivy and Noah
everything I tried to teach them
everything I tried to impart
had already been given away by their siblings.
For a while I fought with them -
these tiny educators
but in the end I figured that having a miriad of tutors was going to be wonderful.
A rich tapestry of thinkings to help the small pair learn about their world
and I guess I became lazy
and less of a mother because of it
because, as Ivy so aptly told me,
I’m not fun to be around.
Knowing that hurts a whole lot more than it probably should.
It hurts because I have already been questioning my place in this life.
and especially lately
I feel as though I am a ghost in my own home;
a shadow of the person I once was.
My personality dulled down so as not to upset the very people who are supposed to love me
just as I am.
My husband is hurting because his mother’s life force is draining from this world
and everything that I think and say seems to pain him more.
Totally understandable, of course.
If I let the teenagers know how I am feeling about something
they believe it to be directed towards them personally (and I know that this is normal as well)
I can’t even tell them that I will miss them this week because that is running a guilt trip on them, apparently
and I am damaging their need to be independant
and teaching them to never want to leave home -
and so I have learnt to become quiet(er)
to hold my tongue
to not be myself
but in doing that I’ve lost who I am
I’ve buried who I am for the ‘good’ of the family at large.
Even more than when I became a mother first and foremost,
even more than when I gave up my career to look after my sick baby
so that David could further his.
Making waves and causing conflict has never been big on my list of accomplishments.
I’ve given everything away to be the best parent I can be for my children
the best wife I can be for my partner
as is seemingly a mother’s lot,
it is not appreciated in the way it was intended
and those intentions clearly fall short in the expectations of a seven year old child.