Have you ever heard someone described as being “unfit to be a mother”? Usually it’s in reference to a woman who neglects her children, or murders them, or gives them tobacco instead of biter biscuits. (I don’t know about that last one; my list really needed three things on it.)

But I think it about myself a lot. Don’t get me wrong – in my opinion, I don’t neglect the Bwun and jr, and so far I’ve never given them tobacco, and I highly doubt I’ll ever murder them. My problem is that I got it in my head that a “good” mother is one who is endlessly patient, cheerful, energetic yet calming, and tidy. This is not true, right? I hope not. I’m not patient. I complain a lot. I bribed myself to get out of bed this morning (fresh donuts from the Creamery). And oh man, this house is not tidy. Not even close.

Most of all, I imagine that a “good” mother is inherently selfless and never tires of putting her own needs second.

Here is where I desperately hope I’m wrong. The other night jr woke up crying just as I was getting into bed and I’ll be honest, I really resented having to get up and feed her. I love jr dearly. She’s sweet and adorable and quirky. When I’m tired, she’s a little less sweet and a little more of  burden. But I almost feel like you can’t say that about your kids. They’re “angels from heaven,” right? The Romgi’s grandma swears that all five of her kids were perfect babies who never cried, and she can’t understand that anyone would dislike having young children. Maybe the march of years since she was a young mother has helped glaze over the frustration of late nights and messy diapers.

You know what? Sometimes I resent that I can’t just go out to the grocery store with the Romgi to get some Ben & Jerry’s. Sometimes I resent that I don’t have any personal space. Sometimes I resent that jr has a sense that tells her when I’m about to go to sleep, and compels her to wake up screaming in a manner that makes it clear Only Mom will do. Sometimes I resent changing diaper upon diaper and feeling like that’s the extent of my contribution to society that day, that all my hard work has literally gone into the garbage can. (I should give the kids credit, too. They worked hard for those messy diapers as well.)

For me, the ideal mother has no resentment. She loves every minute of motherhood. As I type this it does sound ridiculous. Please agree that it’s ridiculous?

I feel conflicted because I do have moments of resentment, but I also adore my kids. The way I love them is incomprehensible. And so when jr starts crying just as I go to bed, or the Bwun tells his first lie (while I’ve been writing this, no less), I’m frustrated and annoyed and exhausted but I know that these are two of my favorite people in the universe. So then of course I feel guilty for not loving every minute of motherhood.

This is the part where you tell me that such feelings are normal. I won’t go so far as to ask you to validate me for being a good mother, but maybe just hint that I’m not unfit to be a mother.

P.S. I know, you want more pictures of the kids. Right now our regular camera is a little bit broken and our awesome one is tricky for kid pictures – they just want to hold it, so I get a lot of blurry shots of little hands in front of the lens and not much else. Sigh.


Crime and Punishment

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

I’ve always been an avid reader, but classics intimidate me. My high school English classes went through quite a few – although, that means I have only a tenth-grade understanding of books like Moby Dick (is it worth trying again?) and zero understanding of The Scarlet Letter (I confess, I barely skimmed the CliffsNotes) or Far From the Madding Crowd (I had a friend summarize it for me. Thanks, Alicia). I feel like, as an adult – an intelligent and literate adult, at that – I have a responsibility to read the classics. Surely they are justly deemed to be great works of literature, right? I think my hesitance comes from my underwhelmed reaction to many of the classics I read in high school.

I started reading Crime and Punishment before I had kids. It may have even been before I was married. I absolutely loved the first few chapters – and then, the book was suddenly overdue. I tend to check out a half dozen books at a time and rack up immense library fines. (Don’t worry; I’ve since banned myself from the library.) A year or so after I started Crime and Punishment, I checked it out again, but I couldn’t find my place, so I began reading from the beginning. I got to approximately the same spot and, once again, I got distracted by other books and ended up paying a fine for my late returns. Fortunately, last year for my birthday the Romgi bought me a Kindle, and I downloaded a free copy of Crime and Punishment – no fees, regardless of how long it took me to read.

Well, it was several months. I started from the beginning and was determined to get through it, partly because I made it a goal on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. And I still loved it. I’d gotten used to the feel of the first few chapters and I was surprised, pleasantly, when the tone shifted a little and the plot expanded. I had no idea there would be a large cast of characters (I really am ignorant, aren’t I?) or that the plot would involve more than just the eponymous crime. (Please tell me I’ve correctly used the word eponymous here. It might be the first time I’ve actually used it and I’d hate to ruin the experience.) Obviously, punishment is part of the story as well, but the book was much different from the vague idea I had in my head. (I have no idea where or how I formed my idea of the book.)

Are you still with me? You’re so great.

Crime and Punishment did not disappoint. It was wonderfully written – the storytelling and translation were both excellent. This definitely deserves its status as a classic. It shouldn’t intimidate you. I found that reading up on Dostoevsky after finishing the book, rather than before, made me appreciate the story much more. Do you like to learn some background information about the author before you read a book?

When I feel up to it, I want to re-read The Stranger and compare it to Crime and Punishment. I suppose it’s been done before. It seems like an obvious comparison – but quite fascinating. Have you read both? What’s your opinion?

Buy Crime and Punishment on Amazon