What if the person that I am is the person I am supposed to be? What if some of my less attractive traits serve some important purpose that I haven't before considered? What if, instead of nagging myself to be more patient I embraced the burrs of impatience as an integral part of my individuality?
"Mom, why can't we be home schooled?"
This is one of those questions that shouldn't be asked of me when I'm in a rush to get through traffic and drop the girls off at school. This is one of those moments where I would trade my big toe for a universal remote that would stop the world from spinning so that I could formulate a kind, convincing answer that wouldn't scar my children.
"Because Mommy doesn't want to. I have so many other things I would rather do with my days than spend them designing lesson plans for you guys and making sure I'm teaching you all of the things I think it's important for you to learn," was my actual reply. Ouch.
"I wish we could be home-schooled because then I could be with you all day long and never have to leave you, Mommy," my five-year-old says softly. Ouch. Ouch.
Even though I know that this doesn't hold true for more than an hour at a time (she's also called me 'the Queen of Meantown' and 'the worst mommy ever'), I think she truly believes this at the moment she utters it. I'm feeling pretty guilty right now.
But what if? What if the mommy my girls are seeing right now is the one from whom they will take their cues as they grow older? What if they are learning that it's okay to make choices based on your own interests and desires as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else? What if my impatience leads me to believe I can do a large variety of different things and still be a good mother? What if I stop second-guessing myself and just accept that I am who I am right now and that is good? Not just 'good enough', but 'good.' So what if I don't exercise as much as the experts say I should? So what if the house is messy more often than I'd like it to be? So what if I occasionally blow off their gymnastics lessons so that we can go out for hot fudge sundaes to celebrate a personal victory?
I walk the dog nearly every day. I feed the kids mostly healthy food. They always have enough clean underwear. It's not always in the drawer - sometimes we pull our clean clothes out of the laundry basket in the morning. The car gets cleaned out every couple of weeks. The newspapers often sit on the driveway for a day or two before being picked up. We don't always brush our teeth before heading out the door to school. Isn't that okay?
We do laugh at least once every day. We do hug and kiss each other before bed every night, no matter how late it is. We respect each others' wish for privacy as much as possible. We try to understand that each of us has a slightly different value system and flexibility is important. None of these things is a hard and fast rule. They are more like the bumper guards at the bowling alley designed to keep kids' bowling balls from running amok. 'Just mind the levies,' Bubba says, 'and we'll be allright.'