What I realized as I was biking away from the gym (because I have to be fit, and save the world from automobile exhaust at the same time), is that we women, maybe especially us moms, long since internalized that command. We feel like it is our job. Get up, probably earlier than we want, and hit the floor running. Breakfasts, lunches, get the kids off to school (for far too many this means driving them. I figure I'm doing something right, because I shove my teens out the door to get themselves to school), all while trying to ingest that all-important first cup of coffee.
Then hit your "day job," whatever it might be. You'd better be amazing there, because whatever you do you'll be judged by a tough standard. Then home again (or in my case, stagger up from the computer) and be sure all the chores are done. That people have clean clothes. That the floor's been swept sometime this decade. And make dinner.
Dinner's the worst. If it's healthy, someone's bound to snoot it. If it's not, they may eat it up, but you'll feel awful for feeding your family something that's not good for them. If your spouse or kid gets sick somewhere down the line, with anything from the sniffles to cancer, you'll know it's your fault for getting them take-out that night instead of cooking veggies and teaching them from infancy to eat them.
Many of my fellow bloggers participate in the IWSG, the Insecure Writer's Support Group. I realize that I am more secure about my writing than most of my life. I may not be brilliant, but I can write.* I'm a great deal less convinced that I can parent. Motherhood offers so many opportunities to realize that you have completely, totally and utterly failed your children, maybe with the best intentions in the world. Or maybe because you know, deep down, that you are too lazy to ever be a good parent.
The teen years are especially good for this. My oldest is a high school Senior. That means that this fall we are not only having to push him into thinking about picking (and applying to) a few colleges, but every time I read a list of what a kid should have done or be ready for at this age, I realize again that I failed to do that.
On a good day, I can remember that I've done my best, and we were working with some challenges here, as Eldest Son is on the autism spectrum, being mildly Aspergers. Sometimes I don't believe it; sometimes it's so obvious. But on a bad day (and at my age, honey, you get a fair number of bad brain days), I'm pretty sure that a REAL mom would have made sure he knew how to do all those things. Would have gotten him involved in clubs and sports and probably directed him how to save the world before age 12.
On a really good day, I remember that he is loving and creative and brilliant, and very little I can do will change anything anyway.
Then I can go write. Because every day that I even sort of meet my responsibilities as mother, wife, writer, and schools advocate, and even sneak in a workout, I've been freaking amazing.
*On the other hand, I don't know squat about marketing and am surely doing it all wrong. That's another post for another day.