People tell me how great of a mother I am surprisingly often, given the fact that I'm not really as great a mother as everyone seems to think.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not neglecting my children. They don't go without meals, clean clothes, or proper medical care. But one thing's for certain: they do go without a lot of things, because of me.
I see children at the playground, going on walks, or riding their bikes with their parents and I often think about how much I would love to do those things. But just the thought of what it would take to get all 3 kids presentable, somewhat behaved, and on bicycles is exhausting. It's so much easier to let them get their outside time in the backyard, where they're fenced in and I don't have to worry about one escaping while I'm chasing another; and if they throw a tantrum - there's nobody there to judge me for it.
My oldest comes home every few weeks with a flier about the activities they're going to be having at school in the upcoming weeks, but we've never once gone. She excitedly tells me about art shows, music groups, and book fairs that I know we aren't going to attend. Again, it's not that I don't want to, really. I'd love to pack her up and go. But dragging along a 2 year old and a 3 1/2 year old? where there will be children's precious artwork, instruments, or books?
None of my children are involved in any kind of organized activities, despite them asking. I struggle to commit to a single event, let alone a steady stream of commitments. I tell myself that when the kids are older we'll get involved, but how much will they have missed already?
I know a lot of this has to do with our schedules. With my husband working nights on a bi-weekly schedule, it's difficult to do anything during the day. And even those activities that are evenings, are either scheduled just as he's needing to leave for work, or tend to be weekly commitments, and our schedule simply doesn't allow for that.
One of the saddest phrases my oldest daughter has taken to saying is "I don't mind." She uses these three words to preface every question she has about an activity she'd like to join in, or a special treat she's like to have. She's grown so accustomed to my explanations of why we can't do things that she prefaces every question with "I don't mind" so I know she won't be too disappointed when I tell her no.
Despite the fact that my children seem very happy with their lives, I am painfully aware of all my shortcomings as their mother. I hope they know that I will always give them my best, even if it's not always enough. And I hope some day they can forgive me for all the things they went without because of me.