It is rare that I am awake and fully functioning before my son is. He is after all the alarm clock that determines when we begin our days and he too determines the end of our evenings out. I used to look at mothers who rushed home at the stroke of noon to set their children down for naps as a bit much after all, a nap missed here or there, so what? Well, now I guess I’m a bit much myself it seems.
We’re in San Francisco. K had a conference and I tagged along to see the sights, sip on masala chai from Samovar but mostly to see my dear friend Baraka. Her son is two months older than mine and seeing them sip ‘chai’ together or unravel packing paper is like watching a miracle in action. No, wait, it is exactly that- two walking breathing miracles in action and despite the rainy streets my heart is light and full of joy.
Travel to the far side of the moon results in an inevitable shift in his sleep patterns. Like waking him up 45 minutes before he was ready to head to the airport. And keeping him awake so he could sleep properly in his new time zone leading him to stare at us at 6pm as though wondering Who are you and where are my real parents who know better than to keep me up at this ungodly hour! I know its part of life. We’re traveling. I know that while he’s a bit confused he’s going to be okay. I know all this and yet when I see his tired eyes or mews of exhaustion– I feel like the worst. mother. ever.
On a rational level I know this is nonsense, and yet on the emotional level– let’s just say I’ve shed more than one tear since arriving because of the heavy burden of guilt I feel for not living up to being the mother I think my son deserves. Trips away from home help me see things I didn’t before both in landscape and scenery but also with my own practices and habits that have grown so familiar it takes time away from the routine to properly see what has taken firm root– like my maternal guilt. I expect perfection and yet I can never be perfect. So instead, I live in the land of guilt- the land of wanting to do everything right- and knowing I never can.
I saw a message in black and white lettering on Baraka’s fridge which [I’m paraphrasing. I think] reads: Being a parent does not mean being a martyr. I blinked and stared at that quote. It resonates with me. This guilt. This desire to be perfect– I am potentially martyring myself with the guilt riddled upon guilt that I am not the perfect mother that this perfect being deserves.
But what is perfect? Is it doing everything right, or doing the best that one can? I’m not sure but I do realize I need to give myself a break and accept that sometimes sleep schedules will be off, and his food won’t be entirely fresh and well yes I might forget to bring the hat that he can’t yank off his head resulting in the cold that seems to be overtaking him now. But that honestly? I’m doing the best I can. I really am. I’m giving this parenting thing the best shot I possibly can.
I have to believe, that when it all comes down to it, that this is enough.