an imperfect gift

My kids are in a choir.

On a side note: When I think of choir, I think of people sitting on hard chairs in straight rows not moving or making any noise until it is their turn to sing, but that’s not at all what this choir is like.  Instead, it’s simply a good, kid-level music class: an introduction to reading music, following rhythm, and singing on pitch done mostly through games.

ChoirEach semester, their choir (actually made of three smaller groups that meet on different days in different locations) practices four songs for their end-of-semester performances.  This semester, the director gushed, “This time we’re going to have a song to make your moms cry.  They’re going to think it’s so sweet!”  The song is entitled “A Mother Is a Gift from God.”

I think I must be broken.  Instead of crying from the utter sweetness of the song, each time they practice–which they are supposed to do a minimum of four times each week–I want to cry from the horrible guilt it induces.

The second line of the song says that a mother’s voice is music to the ears.  Really?  Have they heard me shout for the kids to quit fighting and solve their problem before they get sent to their rooms?  Most of the time, my voice is probably anything but musical.

It continues: “She gently wipes away each tear.”  This one is killer for a parent with a difficult child.  My four-year-old is incredibly tempestuous, and sometimes I feel like he spends the entire day shouting and crying over something.  When he’s having his third meltdown of the day by 9 am, I am anything but gentle as I wipe away his tears.

As if that weren’t enough, I’m told that mother “always takes the time for little girls and boys” and freely sacrifices “to bring her children joy.”  Oh, really?  Because by the end of the day, I often just wish everyone would be quiet and leave me alone for a few minutes.  And I regularly make detours through the kitchen, hoping the kids never discover that the reason I’m repeatedly opening the fridge throughout the day is to snag a handful of M&Ms from my secret stash, which I have no desire to share.

Am I the only terrible mother for whom this song is simply a recrimination?

I suppose someone had to write this poem, and if I consider the poems I’d write about my mother, I wouldn’t focus on the times I got in trouble or the moments in which her voice held that edge of irritation.  Because while I’m sure there were a fair number of those times, the ones that stick in my mind are the times when she spent time with me working on a project or going on a special outing or simply holding me when I was hurt or sick.  And I suppose all that there is to do is hope and pray that when my kids look back on their childhood, they will remember that I wasn’t perfect…but they will have those warm memories of my love and attention that make the less pleasant moments pale by comparison.  One can hope, right?

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