People used to tell me they had to work harder than I did to do equally well in school. I thought if you just put in the same effort, the outcome would be the same. Studying and memorizing, reading and comprehending – what’s not to get? I thought. But the truth is, I didn’t put in that much effort. School really did come easy for me (disclaimer: I never took a tough course and majored in English, so don’t think for a second that I’m some sort of genius).
I didn’t understand that our brains and emotions are wired differently and we excel in different areas as a result. Too bad the area I excel in is pretty pointless in the real world, right? I can memorize a lot of stuff or remember capitals, but now I’m an adult and am quickly finding out there are many other ways people are wired that could be much more beneficial for me. I am now realizing that what comes easy to some people comes harder for me.
Like parenting, for example. There are these women that are born to be mothers. Everyone knows it about them: they are nurturing and selfless and domesticated and patient. They took care of their younger siblings and liked playing with dolls. They usually get married young and start procreating immediately after marriage. They might even puree their own baby food and have casseroles ready in the freezer. They map out meals for the week and laugh about the missing socks while folding the laundry.
Then there are people like me who don’t fit any of that criteria. We waited five years after marriage to get pregnant. And while some people think those five years might have prepared us for children, all it really did was push me further into my selfishness. I grew accustomed to being able to sleep in every weekend, having plenty of time to myself. I basked in solitude and spent time doing as I pleased. I found a job niche rather than working towards domesticity.
And besides those five years, there are qualities I have that I have always had that don’t pair well with motherhood. For example, I am impatient. Very impatient. I actually get agitated when people don’t respond to me immediately. Another thing: I hate loud, screechy noises. I shut down when people yell or raise their voices. And I am quick-tempered. I know about that advice to take a moment before reacting, but I don’t do that (see impatient earlier in this paragraph). When I feel something, I immediately respond to that, whether good or bad. None of these are desirable traits in a parent. I know that. So when I say parenting comes harder for me than it does for some other people, I know why. I have analyzed this, journaled about it in my quest to become a better parent.
There are parts of parenting that I excel at: like taking them places and buying them things and photographing and logging their childhood. I love to read to them and receive their hugs and kisses and dance together and do puzzles and play in the backyard and go on walks to the park. But some of the other parts (ie: the bulk of parenting) isn’t my niche. Like what some people just see as buckling a squirming kid into a car seat is cheek-biting frustration to me. Or the boys’ constant crying and shrieking at each other in the car. There are women who could take all that in stride, turn it into some sort of game even, laugh while watching her kids in the rearview mirror. Me? I am proud that I didn’t curse profanities in a fit of rage. That is my big feat.
But I’ll be damned if I’m just going to accept my shortcomings and give up on becoming a better person. My boys deserve the best mom there is, and although I’m not that in the traditional sense by any means, I will do my best to be a pretty damn good one all the same. And yes, that takes a bit more work for me than it does for some other people. But hey, I guess all that work I skipped during my school years is coming back around. I am a 31-year-old with homework. Literal homework, this time.