Ok, I know it’s a bit cliché to write a post about motherhood the week after Mother’s Day, but comments about “Real Mothers” in a book I’m reading not only made me giggle, but triggered my mind to meander through my years as a Single Mom raising a gifted child.
The book is “House Rules” by Jodi Picoult, and it’s been on my nightstand for years. I started reading it multiple times, but life as a Single Mom, or any Mom for that matter, doesn’t always allow the time to just sit and read.
BUT, having more time at home right now, and a child who is twenty and somewhat independent, I can say I finally carved out time to read, beyond the newspaper, blogs and reference books. A hobby I certainly missed.
The book is a story about a divorced, single Mom named Emma with an 18 year old son with Asperger’s syndrome, who is very verbal, and locked in his own world, but would very much like to make connections outside of this world, yet is clueless on how to be “normal.”
AND, there is also an older brother who just wants a normal life, but gave up hope of this ever happening, as the issues with his younger brother became the dominant factor in their household. Thus the title “House Rules.”
I won’t get into details beyond this because it’s insignificant to the point of this post. What is significant is that as can be expected this Mother has had a hard time at being the Mother she dreamed she would be. She’s spent a lot of time second-guessing herself, but with time has realized she has done what needed to be done to protect her children, especially the son with Asperger’s.
As she notes in her commentary in the book, “we are expected to be supermoms these days, instead of admitting the we have flaws. It’s tempting to believe that all mothers wake up feeling fresh every morning, never raise their voices, only cook with organic food, and are equally at ease with the CEO and the PTA.”
She continues, “Here’s the secret. These mothers don’t exist.”
“Real mothers don’t just listen with humble embarrassment to the elderly lady who offers unsolicited advice in the checkout line when a child is having a tantrum. We take the child, dump him in the lady’s cart, and say, “Great. Maybe you can do a better job.”
“Real mothers admit it is easier to fail at this job than to succeed.”
“Real easy, real mothers. The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already are one.”
These are just a few of the comments from this character, but you get the drift of where she was going with her thought process, AND, I’m quite sure every Mom on the face of the earth can relate to them, and we don’t have a child with Asperger’s.
What I found most engaging was that she used the term “Real Mothers.” Being honest with yourself about your faults is not easy, and even harder when you’re a Mom critiquing your job as a Mom.
I don’t know one Mom who hasn’t second-guessed herself, or wished she’d done something differently after the fact. I certainly know I have.
As a single parent I had no one to bounce decisions off of, it was just me praying and listening to my heart. In addition, I found early on I would also have to be my Son’s advocate, something that adds another layer of second-guessing beyond the basics.
Just as his elementary school years were getting started, behavior issues convinced the staff at the school that my Son was ADHD and needed to be on meds. I knew better and by trusting my gut discovered he was gifted IQ. Boredom was at the root of his behavior. Needless to say a change of schools was in order.
This was just the beginning of the road dealing with a gifted and sensitive child. It is not on the same level as dealing with a child who has autism or Asperger’s, but it certainly has had its challenges.
Challenges that involved a very bright, yet extremely immature child. These two things can go hand-in-hand with gifted IQ and create a major clash. A clash that would rear its ugly head often over the years raising my Son.
I won’t go into detail here because I’ve written extensively about some of these battles on my blog site “Waking the Walker – a Mother’s quest to surviving her Son’s “zombie” years – aka his teens.
AND, even touched on some of the roads we have traveled back in my February post “Navigating the Ever-Changing Terrain of Parenting”
I don’t mention all this because I’m looking for adulation.
Not at all, I mention it because throughout all this I never once didn’t worry I had screwed up.
What if what I did had an adverse impact on my Son as he grew up?
Did I do too much? Did I do too little?
To be honest I still worry about all this and my Son is a twenty-year old sophomore in college. I think that’s what being a “Real Mother” is all about.
As Emma in “House Rules” states “Real easy, real mothers. The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already are one.”
SO, I wish all you “Real Mothers” out there a very Happy Belated Mothers Day, and just know we are all united in doubt and second-guessing of our actions. AND that is OK.
© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2020. All rights reserved.
Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2020.
All rights reserved.
Photo from my personal collection