I often feel like I'm not a great parent. I yell too much. I spend too much time doing life-stuff rather than playing with Maddie and Riley. I'm impatient. They don't eat enough veggies. I let them watch a Dora video every night. I take out my work and life-related frustrations on them. I get mad when they spill milk. There are lots of times that I'm worn out, stressed out, and just don't love being a mom the way I feel like I'm supposed to love being a mom.
I know I do the best I can. Maddie and Riley are clothed and fed and loved. I'm too hard on myself, as most parents are. I'm a perfectionist, but that's my battle to fight, not the kids'. I love Maddie and Riley fiercely and even when I can barely put one foot in front of the other and make it through the day, I'm glad I have them.
The adage that you can't miss what you don't/didn't have is complete hogwash. When John was first diagnosed with cancer, the immediate grief I dealt with was for the life we were losing, the things we weren't going to get to do, the experiences we weren't going to have together. It's possible that our married life together would have been awful and we would have ended up unhappy and divorced, but I have to believe that even if that had been our ultimate fate, there would have been at least *some* good times first, and I miss and mourn those times daily.
I feel the same way about parenting. By the time the twins were born, John was pretty sick. He dedicated all his available energy to being a good dad, and he was. But he needed a lot of sleep and he didn't have a lot of energy. And then he died. And I miss him so much. Part of that involves missing what it's like to function in a two-parent household where no family member suffers from a terminal illness. That structure would not make me a perfect parent—no such thing—but I am certain that it would make me a better parent.
I don't want more kids. I can barely handle the kids I have now. But sometimes I want to experience what it's like to have one newborn instead of a pair, and what it's like to experience infancy with a fully present, healthy partner. I want a do-over on mothering during infancy and early toddlerhood. I want a chance to do it on my terms.
I don't want that chance enough to do it on my own. Ha! Lunacy. (Although I've got two embryos on ice back in Boston . . . ) And, perhaps oddly, these days I am pretty much not interested in being in a serious relationship and/or getting remarried. I'd love to go on a date—good conversation, nice dinner, maybe a movie—but I'm at a point with Maddie and Riley where there's a lot I like about single parenting. It's nice to be the one who makes all the decisions about where we go, what we do, what we eat, what's OK and what's not OK. Sometimes I wish I had someone to discuss these things with, but often I like the flexibility that comes from being the sole decision-maker (in conjunction with the whims and rather strong desires of two toddlers, of course). We're not lacking for social opportunities. And while I'd love to share the burdens of running a house, or be able to go running before work while the kids are still sleeping, or slip out for an errand once they're in bed at night, that's not a reason to find a husband.
What this means, of course, is that I'm going to meet my next spouse while I'm out running errands after work today. I may not believe that you can't miss what you don't have, but I do believe that as soon as you say never, it comes back to bite you in the ass. And I am headed downtown after work, very close to the infamous Department of Transportation . . . I guess it's always best to keep an open mind.