I am often consumed by pressure. Pressure from myself to be perfect. I make lists and plans in my head of how I want things to play out or be done. Out of fear, maybe? Fear of being rocked by emotions I’m unprepared to handle….maybe? I’ve always been this way since I can remember. I’ve always held people to a higher expectation, especially if I like you, or God for bid, love you. Do what you say you’re going to do and follow through. I can be tough on the ones I love due to my expectations. My intentions are so good, but the realistic mess of it all caused me to experience growth through all of the let downs. Since the most recent naive time in my life, I’ve grown up, and learned the ways of the world, the beauty and the darkness. I’ve kept some of my old habits, broke a few and let some go completely.
Then, as I’ve always planned everything, I planned my pregnancies, what type of mother I wanted to be, you know, my fairy tale. But once that little baby was here, it took every vulnerability and insecurity inside of me, threw it right back in my face and said, “I will forever be a reflection of you, so get your shit together and don’t fuck this up.” Maybe not in so many words, or words at all, but that first stare said everything I needed to hear.
The good parts of it all, which we all love to share, were; my life changed, my world became very small and my focus was honed in on something so important that nothing else mattered. But before I had the magical moments of wanting to better my life for this little boy, I was, for lack of any 2 better words, scared shit-less. The overwhelming feeling of being responsible for a single being’s life is when I actually realized that my shit wasn’t together. I was a wreck. I hadn’t gotten my Bachelor’s degree the way I had planned to do before I had a baby, so what if something happened to my husband? Then what? What if I needed a break? What about me? I realized that my life had been stripped of anything to do with my needs and all to do with someone else’s. I mean it got pretty selfish in the emotions department, but I’m human right? I enjoyed my pregnancies, I relished in them and thought motherhood would be the same. It just wasn’t, it was hard.
I was harder on myself than any one person could have been on me. I convinced myself that every decision I made for my child would either create a loving, honorable man, or most definitely a sociopath who couldn’t relate to anyone in the outside world. I guess the good news was that I was taking this seriously, but as I’ve always been told and teased, maybe a little too serious. My Dad used to tell me I was being too sensitive when I’d become offended or saddened by a joke that he meant nothing by. Sometimes I agree with that statement and tell myself that same thing when I’m feeling offended or sad, but there are appropriate times for sensitivity, and it makes me who I am. I tend to take things to heart, very serious and personal. I’ve gotten better as I’ve gotten older. Don’t they say everything gets better with age? But I’ll always be this deep, sensitive and sometimes, serious person. So, my analytical self as a mother would be no different.
I had found myself in so many situations where I was with my children physically, yet thinking of all of the other things I needed to be doing. *GUILT* I’d been physically with my children and felt like I just needed to be anywhere but there in order to get my sanity back. *DOUBLE GUILT* Then when I’d be without my children trying to get my sanity back, all I wanted was them, with me and in my arms so I could apologize for the fact that I shipped them off for 2 days, not for quality time with Grandma and Grandpa but for ME. *GUILT GUILT GUILT* I convinced myself that I was messing up as a mother because they probably felt unloved and abandoned. Little was I realizing all of the memories, bonds and laughs that were being created and had. There was love for them in this world to be experienced and had, other than my arms.
***Now here is where the light shines through. After I go through my self-analytical emotions, I become exhausted by my own judgement. I begin to fight back and tell myself, “give yourself a damn break! You are with your children 99% of their lives when you’re not working an 8 hour day. You feed them, bathe them, play with them, laugh with them, support them, cheer them on, tell them you love them, smother them with kisses and you’re THERE!”
I know I don’t have to tell my 2 sons that I love them 100 times a day, but this Mommy does. If I only said it once, it would be enough, because my actions every moment I’m with them is showing them my love. Being there is my love. Together as a unit, as a family is love. I have so much joy and love from and for my children, I glow. I literally glow when I’m not with them, because they are inside my heart, filling it with love and light. I can’t help but to glow. I am exhausted, I am run down, but I now know that this chaotic bliss doesn’t last long enough and I will miss it. I was missing it when I was judging myself. I wasn’t allowing myself to live in the moment, because I was criticizing my actions in that moment. I was holding myself to an unattainable expectation, and punishing myself with guilt. I know I’m not the only mother in the world who has done this, but to write it down makes it real for me. I was able to receive my bachelor’s degree in my own time and probably didn’t give myself enough credit, but that accomplishment brought me joy and I did it for myself, without guilt.
I still struggle with guilt and have to put it all into perspective at times. But all I want you to get from this is, if you can be present and give love to your child, you’re doing a great job. Our children are going to remember us being there and feeling our love. When we live in the moment, those are the memories that last…what could possibly be better?