Being a mother has not made me a perfect woman.
Being a mother has not made my flaws magically go away. Instead, new parts of my personality that I wish would have stayed buried surface, and there is never quite enough time to myself to smooth through them.
I’m trying to get my family to our nicked, antique dining table for breakfast on Saturday morning. I’ve laid out the apricot-filled paczki (Polish donut traditional around Fat Tuesday) that I cut in half for the girls to share, along with forks and a plate of honey toast for my husband. I’m carrying in the last plate—my own, with peanut butter toast and dates—and our coffees. My oldest is acting a little difficult, and I’m trying to contain my rising frustration, present more because of the discussion with my husband about how our day will unfold than because of her.
She’s whining, and she’s already taken off and broken the glasses that we just got fixed last night. (I drove to the optician and got there two minutes before they closed, apologizing as they helped us even though they were already in their coats to go home.)
She never breaks her glasses. She doesn’t usually whine. I’m feeling defeated, and our weekend has barely begun.
And I yell at her to sit down, and there’s a curse word also thrown into this glaringly rude command. She looks appropriately startled and sits at the table.
Some nice Saturday breakfast, I can’t help but think, but it’s not funny, it’s just sad.
We eat, and the girls get up to play. My husband and I sit at the table talking and drinking coffee.
It’s hard to balance us needing our space to be our own individual selves, with what the girls need (like another trip to the optician before they close at noon today), and my desire to create special family time for them that will get stored away in the nooks and crannies of their hearts, to remember later when they sit at a table as an adult digging into a paczki donut.
And so we go to Sam’s for diapers and toilet paper and salt for our well water—and they look forward to eating foods that I would never serve at home via samples by cute older people who smile when their full mouths say “thank you.”
We go to the grocery store and my oldest daughter in particular loves the checking-out process, and saying hi to random people in the crowded aisles.
We use these weekends for errand running and exercise time alone, instead of my usual of two kids playing around my free weights or reading books at the end of my yoga mat.
We are not only a family on the weekends, but we do have these two days shoved at the end of a week as our main time to slow down and enjoy our girls while they’re little, and to try and enjoy each other and ourselves, too.
I don’t want these days to feel shoved at the end of a week, or even like those two days before a Monday. (And I’ve actually grown to like Monday mornings, in their fresh-start glory, and coffee with a desperate purpose.) I want simply to have more time together as a family, and more time to myself (and I want these same things for my husband).
I sit down, and I wish I hadn’t lost my temper at my daughter.
I sit down, and I wish I had more self-control at times.
I sit down. I breathe in. I take a sip of coffee, and I look at these faces, with powdered sugar on lips, and my husband’s large hands wrapped around the delicate pottery mug, and I’m grateful for these moments, even if they aren’t the perfect scenes my imagination can create of how they should go. Even though there will never be enough.