Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why I Suck at Being a Mother and a Human Being

I’m just checking in to let everyone know how awful I am at this whole motherhood thing. I try, I really do. I try to be patient. I try to be careful. But, something in my brain is not clicking, and the events of these last twenty four hours read like the Britney Spears’ Guide to Parenting.

I actually have to go back a bit further to get us started. See, a couple months ago, I put Charlotte down for a nap on our bed. It’s a bad habit Chris and I have gotten into. She sleeps with us so many hours each night that she is just more comfortable there than in her crib. So, in moments of desperation, I would let her nap there just to make sure she got some sleep. On this particular day, she wasn’t quite asleep and she was fussing. I was trying to ignore her, hoping she’d fall back asleep. I was in the kitchen doing some dishes when the whiny crying turned to blood-curdling screaming in an instant. I ran into the bedroom to discover what I had feared, no knew, had happened as soon as I heard her screams. She had, of course, fallen off the bed. We have a California King bed, and she rolled all the way from the middle, to the edge, rolled over the pillow barrier, and onto the floor. She was fine, luckily. Just scared. But, needless to say, I still felt like the worst mother ever.

Everyone reassured me that not only was I not the worst mother ever, but that I was not alone. I was regaled with countless tales of babes toppling off couches and mattresses, and none were worse for the wear. When I told the story to my mother-in-law, after I vowed to never let this happen again, she nonchalantly assured me that it would not be the last time Charlotte would end up cascading off a bed: “You think you’ve learned, but you really haven’t”.

And right she was. Last night, I let the baby sleep on the couch when she started screaming each time I started carrying her half-comatose body down the hallway. It was like she knew I was going to take her back there and LEAVE her. So, she slept on the sofa where she could hear the hum of the television and the soft clicking of the keys on my laptop. I sat on the floor where I could see her. I reasoned that if she started to roll, I could catch her. But, instead I watched her fall to the floor while I scrambled to reach her. Again, she was fine, but the “what-ifs” involving coffee tables and broken limbs flooded my head.

So, I’m already a lousy mother, but WAIT! It gets worse. It really does. Don’t believe me? Try this on for size: I left Charlotte alone in the house. All alone. It was about 6:30 this morning. The hurricane-like winds were blowing the trash can against the house, causing a banging that was causing Charlotte to stir in her sleep. I know this, because she was in bed with me. So, I went outside to move it, and locked myself out of the house. So, to recap: Charlotte is in my bed, Chris is at a hotel for work, and I am OUTSIDE. As I’m taking stock of the situation I realize several things. First of all, I acknowledge that I am a disgrace of a mother. If there were mandatory IQ tests to determine whether or not one should be able to have children, well, let’s just say I’d be twenty pounds lighter and sleeping off a hangover, instead of standing outside my house, contemplating breaking a window. The next thing I realize is that Charlotte is on the bed, surely about to roll to her imminent doom. And finally, I remember that my brother-in-law lives a block away and has a key to my house.

Cut to me doing a combination of running and limping, clutching my chest as I make my way across the short distance. At this point I’m realizing I shouldn’t have been skipping the gym these past few weeks. Okay, years. Luckily, he was awake, as were my two youngest nieces, who, pajama clad and with massive bedheads, regarded me with confusion as I tearfully (and breathlessly) explained my situation. He calmly reassured me that she would be fine and drove me home. Before he had even pulled his key out of the door, I was down the hall and, with relief, observed her peacefully sleeping on my bed.

After telling Chris about the debacle over the phone, he heard Charlotte crying in the background. He said, “What’s wrong with her? Is she being taken away by Social Services?”


But seriously, I don’t know what sudden defect in my brain has caused me to let her fall off raised surfaces, or leave her alone in the house, or bump her head on the concrete slab in the parking lot of the hotel today when we came to join Chris. All I know is I will probably do something just as dumb or worse, fairly soon.


  1. I see you made a trip to the guilt store. A, you're a great mom and B, you're a terrific person. Just because the guilt cupboard is bare doesn't mean you have to fill it up. Love to you, Chris and Charlotte

  2. OK, do I need to tell you the story about how I left you alone in the San Francisco house to run three-doors down 17th St. to the corner market so I could finish dinner? I could have gotten hit by a car or shot while interrupting a robbery, and you have been alone in the house until your dad came home. (Don't think I didn't consider those things.) But I lived, and so did you.

    Don't obsess over these things. Just figure you learned your lesson and stop letting her sleep on elevated surfaces. Forgive yourself and move on, as Our Lady of Weight Loss always says.

    I'm more worried about you texting and driving. Stop that shit!