Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I Am No Mother Duck

A few days ago, while driving down the road with my youngest two in the back of the 1987 Chevy Astro, I noticed a car slowing in front of me. Two women standing at a bus stop were pointing and laughing and so, I slowed, too. The car in front of me sped up and so I could clearly see the spectacle slowing traffic. A mother duck and her four ducklings waddled from the middle of the busy residential street to the edge, as I waited with my foot pressed to the brake while frantically digging in my purse for my camera.

I pulled out the camera just as the little procession reached safety.

The image of that mama duck and her babies has remained in my mind, though. Her ducklings followed, hovered close to her feathered sides, didn't run off, didn't fight with their brothers, didn't refuse to do grammar because it is so boring.

I'm nothing like that duck mom. Today, as a matter of fact, I would have thrown my letter of resignation at my boss, only, uh, I don't have a boss and I can't resign. Instead, I slammed the door and strode outside, first to the driveway where I stood by the lilacs, and then up the street a few houses where I noticed a gentle spring breeze and wondered if the neighbors were looking at the wild-haired lady in her moccasin slippers wandering the neighborhood. All the windows really did seem like eyeballs behind sunglasses, staring at me.

I didn't go far, of course, because I was keenly aware of the littler ones in my house and also cognizant of the fact that my teenagers would keep an eye on the little kids even though those very same teenagers, well, one of those teenagers, had caused me to flee into the street, question my very status of a competent mother and resolve to turn in my Homeschooling Mother Card once and for all.

I shrieked to myself, as loudly as one can shriek inside one's head on the street in the middle of the morning while worrying about neighbors calling the police to report a raving lunatic strolling the streets.

My son, The Reluctant Student, has some issues, some undiagnosed issues having to do with paying attention and retaining information and organization. I don't need a label to know that he struggles with what comes naturally and easily to me and his twin brother. He sometimes stays focused and tries, but this week he's been derailed. The picture of him as a railroad car literally off the rails, unable to move forward or backward, blocking the rest of the train from moving fills me with pity and understanding, but also frustration because we need to keep moving. Moving forward, heading toward the finish line, hurry, hurry, hurry!

When I hurry him, he resists.

I used to think that raising children was all about nurturing them properly and creating the right environment. I see now how much genetic predisposition influences and even controls behavior. I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle, like a salmon swimming upstream who finally encounters an impassable dam.

So, between a difficult morning of grammar (adverbial phrases, anyone?) and my daughter who spends every waking moment either changing her clothes or interrupting me or demanding Cheetos, I really did decide I am not cut out for this mothering gig. Really. I quit. DO YOU HEAR ME? I'M NOT COMING IN TOMORROW! I QUIT!

Blink. Blink-blink. Okay, fine. In two weeks, I'm outta here, for sure. I'm going to get a job cleaning chimneys or muck-raking cow stalls or deep-sea fishing on an Alaskan fishing boat . . . something easy like that.

If I were a mother duck and my kids were those ducklings, today they totally would have been squished by a car. Tomorrow, maybe they will be all fluffy and yellow and quiet and cute. One can hope.

(My son just sent me this instant-message: "GOING TO TRUN OFF NOW MOM GOOD NIGHT I HEART U =) AND ALSO SORRY FOR TODAY." Okay. Fine. Whatever. I'm in for one more day.)


Blogger ilovecheese said...

Oh Mel! Some days are just tear-your-hair-out days!! But he really sounds like a good boy and kudos to you for that! And you know what you were in my dreams last night! I was looking at your webpage and suddenly you appear in front of me and my mind kept telling me "That's Mel" but I knew it wasn't you coz that lady had brunette hair and not very pretty eyes!! And my mind was telling me in the dream - Mel is not brunnete..and she has much prettier eyes! You are dreaming.."
SEE!! Reading you everyday is a GOOD thing :)

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Wren said...

Hang in there. :)


7:53 AM  
Blogger Mary-LUE said...

Homeschooling is the gift of a special kind of person. I've always joked that if I homeschooled my son, my husband would come home one day to find both our bodies on the floor, blood spattered, broken, bruised. We would just kill each other, I know it.

To take that time and to interact with your children as their "teacher" is a big sacrifice (all this I'm sure you know) but who else will care as much as you about the struggles your son faces? The most compassionate, skilled teacher still won't be as invested as you are in getting it right for him.

Lucky boy.

7:53 AM  
Blogger EmmaSometimes said...

okay, first I like your picture!! Very nice.

Remember to give yourself some credit! You know, your son is very blessed to have you as a teacher. You can work one on one, you know what he is capable of and struggles with.

I was homeschooled through High School and although my parents would not be the model homeschooling teachers it wasn't for the lack of trying. Frankly, I don't believe that teachers, homeschooling or otherwise, can obtain that 'perfectly rounded' education that everyone wants for their children. Something is too much of this, or not enough of that...BUT, Mel, if God has given you this task, do it to the best of your ability and God can take care of the rest. Pencils down and hands folded. hehe.

9:01 AM  
Blogger jennifer starfall said...

if you quit, can you come to my house? i need someone to drink tea with me and teach me how to bake cookies. i promise, you'll never do another load of laundry again.

and it's so nice to see you, mel. again. every time i visit and see your smiling face it makes me happy. even when your ducklings are squished.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Emily said...

Just when you think you can't do it anymore, or all that you do is pointless....they simply remind you to stay. Be it a instant message or smiling, rather than screaming hysterically as if there being cruelly abused, through tummy time.

Ahhhh...it's those little things!

10:16 AM  
Blogger KMae said...

Gosh. This was really a good entry. I enjoyed reading it & am so glad I never had kids. I would have been a BAD mother & beat them. I knew this, no matter what anybody said. So I protected them & never got pregnant. Plus I am just too lazy. You sound like a great mother!

11:30 AM  
Anonymous surcie said...

I could never homeschool my child simply because I would go nuts. I appreciate your honesty, Mel. A lot of moms who homeschool give the impression that its a precious experience for everyone involved.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Praying for your Prodigal said...

I hope things begin to feel better SOON! I love how you described motherhood--I could feel the mama duck racing across traffic with her little ducklings close behind. Oh--if it were so easy for human mama's! I run across the road.......and 1 of my children goes another direction! What's up with that!

God bless you as you love your children into responsible, caring, honest, and compassionate adults!


1:47 PM  
Blogger Juliabohemian said...

I wasted no time having mine diagnosed. You would have to read my archived posts to see why. In addition to adhd she has odd oppositional defiance disorder. Medication is helping...I have a nervous eye twitch from her behavior.

The ducklings are in a different places on the "hierarchy of needs".
If they disobey and stray from their mother, they DIE. Although, sometimes, the way I scream you would think that were the case...

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Don't you just hate it when you have a really good anger happening at them and then they turn around and tell you they love you or they wash a dish or some other petty thing and it is so hard to stay mad?

3:10 PM  
Blogger Krisco said...

Sorry for the tough day.

That's very sweet he IMd you. He feels the frustration too....at least that's something....

8:35 PM  

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