Can I get real with you? Like, really, “R-E-A-L.”? I’m a total Type A, epic control freak. I’ll own it. When it comes to my daughters, I will literally drive myself crazy trying to make everything absolutely perfect for them – whether it’s planning their birthday parties or choosing just the right outfit for our family photos. I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself; all the time; every day. And when my best laid plans go awry, I realize that sometimes; I really suck at this parenting thing. Case in point – the tale of the big girl bed.
Nuala, my oldest, just turned 4. She’s growing everyday. In fact, she’s gotten so tall it was time to get her a “big girl bed.”
I first broached the subject with “Mostly Wonderful” back in September. “Ya know, Nuala will need a twin size bed pretty soon.”
“How much do those cost?” he inquired.
“I guess that depends on what you want.”
“Well, what do “you” want?”
“I’d like to get her a nice metal bed, like I had when I was little.”
“Maybe we can go to IKEA?”
I-K-E-A! Those 4 little letters put a shutter down my spine. No offense, to my Swedish loving furniture followers, but there was not way in holy hell I was sticking my daughter in anything that I needed an allen key to assemble.
We are not rich by any means, but I had devised a plan. I would start buying parts of what I needed for the bed in increments, preventing us from breaking the bank.
First stop on my list, the bedding. My daughter requested a Finding Dory sheets set with comforter. I began hoarding my Kohl’s cash like a squirrel hoards nuts, even choosing to forgo my usual end of year purchase of new underwear and socks for myself. Disgusting, I know. You should see this lousy underwear and torn socks I’m wearing. But, moms always put their kids first, right?
Once I checked that off my list, I went on to the necessities: the waterproof mattress cover (FYI HOLY EXPENSIVE), new hypoallergenic pillows and extra pillow protectors.
Finally, in December, I took all the Christmas money and gift cards I had received and put it towards buying the actual bed. I found the perfect twin metal bed on Hayneedle.com. Plus, I had a coupon! SCORE! I showed Nuala photos of the bed on my phone as I ordered it.
“Wow, mommy, that’s for me?” she asked.
“Yes, it is and mommy is going to make everything so pretty for you in your room. I’m going to put all you Dory sheets on it and your new pillow. You will love it.”
My little girl hugged me, “I love you so much mommy, you’re the best.”
Some Assembly Required
The bed came and I solicited my unwilling assistant, “Mostly Wonderful”, to help with assembly. Actually, he put it together, considering I couldn’t make out any of the hardware. #Blindmom problems. I did, however, supervise.
Once the majestic gun metal bed was erect in all it’s glory, we brought both our girls in to see the finished product.
“But mommy, there is no mattress” my daughter said. “How can I sleep here with no mattress? ”
I quickly explained that I had to order the mattress and mommy would make sure it came before the end of the week – because after all; I am SUPER-MOM!
“Ok, mommy. I love you so much. You’re the best.”
That night, I went online to Raymour & Flannigan. I read review after review on twin mattresses. BORING! I finally went with an option that had been on sale and could be delivered in the next two days.
The night before the mattress was supposed to arrive, I called the company for my delivery window. (CONTROL FREAK, REMEMBER). I got a really nice woman on the phone who told me the “mattress” would be delivered between 1-4pm.
“What about the box spring?” I asked.
“You didn’t order one.” she said.
“How do you sell a mattress without a box spring?”
I began to panic. I couldn’t disappoint my daughter. I needed to get that box spring. I just had to have it…. Tomorrow… With the mattress.
This poor Raymour & Flannigan woman must have realized she was dealing with a certifiable nut case because she not only offered to sell me a box spring, but promised to personally call to the warehouse to ensure it was put on the truck for my delivery. Crisis averted.
The next day, the box spring and mattress were delivered and both my daughters bounced on the new bed with glee!
“Mommy, when are you going to put on my sheets?”
“I have them all washed; I am going to do that now” I said.
I plopped both my daughters in front of the tv, gave them each a box of animal crackers, and ran down to the basement. I had been up until 2am the night before washing all the bedding and mattress covers in preparation for this moment. After all, my darling child was not about to sleep on unwashed sheets!
Dory Sheets & Ugly Cries
I quickly got to work, perfecting the new bed. First went on the Finding Dory bed skirt. Then, the waterproof mattress cover. Next, the Dory fitted sheet. Followed by the top sheet.
I was careful to make the most symmetrical hospital corners I could muster. After that, I spread out the comforter and the final touch – the pillow case.
I stood back to look at my work. Yup! Pretty amazing!
I ran downstairs to grab my two precious little girls to tell them I was done. I was dying to see my daughter’s reaction to just how perfectly, perfect her new twin bed was.
As soon as she got to her doorway, both she and her sister jumped onto the bed.
A tear came to my eye. This is it, I thought. I’m having one of those motherhood moments. My little girl has a big girl bed. This is where she and I will sit together one day and talk about her friends at school and the boys she likes. This is where we’ll brush each other’s hair and paint each other’s nails…. And…And…
That’s when my daughter turned to me wearing her angry face. That vein in her forehead, reminiscent of my mother, when she got mad. “MOMMY!!!!!”
“What? What’s wrong?”
“You screwed up my bed!” Then came the waterworks.
“What do you mean, I screwed up your bed? It’s perfect!”
“You put the sheets on backwards! You’re such a dipstick!”
I pushed my nose up against the nylon sheets. Sure enough, they were on inside out. Par for the course when you have a blind mother.
“Nuala, it’s no big deal. I can fix that. Mommy didn’t see….”
“That’s because your eyes don’t work right. You always mess everything up.”
By now my husband had heard the commotion of screaming and whining, and walked into the room. He looked at me and then looked at my daughter before scooping her up, arms flailing, and taking her into our bedroom. He shut the door.
I could hear him talking to her, telling Nuala how I had worked so hard for so many months to give her this new bed. I heard him tell her that everyone makes mistakes, not just mommies with bad eyes.
I walked into my bathroom, shut the door and I cried. I ugly cried. Hard.
I couldn’t believe my kid! Here I was busting my ass trying to give her the perfect big girl bed experience and she’s throwing a tantrum? Was she fricken’ for real? Didn’t she know how hard I had worked to make everything absolutely perfect for her? She should be more grateful.
With snot running down my lip, I stood up to wash my face. It was in the blurry reflection looking back at me that I saw the real problem… me! I deserved everything that came my way that afternoon. I got a little too cocky and the Motherhood Karma Gods gave me the ultimate bitch slap. I had it coming.
This self imposed pressure to achieve perfection – BULLSHIT!
Not getting the IKEA bed – STUPID!
Needing to have that box-spring like it was life or death – DISGRACEFUL!
REALITY CHECK: Blind Mom Guilt
I was not super mom; not even close. I wasn’t showing my kid how much I loved her. All I was doing was teaching my daughter what it means to be pretentious, impatient, and entitled. Then “I” got upset when she didn’t display the reaction I thought I deserved. EPIC PARENTING FAIL. EPIC.
I searched for a reason for my behavior. While some of it stems back to my TYPE A neuroticism, the rest of it comes from a very different place, a subject I don’t often discuss, good ol’ fashioned blind mom guilt.
There are times I feel bad for my daughters because they have me for a mother, the blind woman who also happens to have alopecia. I don’t feel like I’m the “pretty” mom. I’m certainly not the “skinny” mom. I will never be the “car-pool” mom. In a way, I feel like they have been cheated. They deserve better. In an effort to tip the scales back in my favor, I have instituted these self-imposed standards of perfectionism. In my mind, this was the necessary alternative. Shame on me!
For all those items on my “I will never be” list, witnessing this twin bed debacle reminded me what “I AM.” I am kind. I am smart. I am loving. I AM PRESENT! I am there for my girls every single day. I will never be super mom, but who is? Does that mythical unicorn in the realm of motherhood even exist?
I’m not ashamed to say; I need to do better. If I don’t learn to give myself a break and get past my ridiculous standards, then I’m setting up both my girls up for a life full of disappointment.
When I finally emerged from the bathroom, my little girl was back on her new bed with my husband and her sister.
“What do you say to mommy?” my husband asked.
Nuala rushed over and hugged me. “Mommy, I’m sorry I yelled at you. Thank you for my bed. I know you tried hard. Everyone makes mistakes.”
I bent down to scoop her up. “You’re right Nuala, all mommies make mistakes. Even ones that have eyes that work better than mine.”
“I love you, mommy. You’re the best-est mommy ever.”
My daughter has been in her bed two days now. The Dory sheets are still inside out and that’s how they’re going to stay – at least until it’s laundry day and I strip her bed.
That afternoon, I learned I need to be a little bit kinder to myself, perhaps a little more patient. My visual impairment certainly makes raising children more challenging, but that doesn’t mean I need to be my own worst critic. I do the best I can every day to raise my daughters, loving them unconditionally. It’s time to start embracing my own imperfections, let go of misplaced guilt, and be the best mother I can be. I know I have it in me. I bet you do too.
Picture: Nuala on her big girl bed with her plush baby Dory.