Tag Archives: mom

Mother’s Day Lament

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Mother’s Day Lament

There is little that compares to the emptiness I feel on Mother’s Day morning. My children remember me and bring coffee and love notes. Friends and family send kind words. And yet, it is one of the hardest days of the year because of what feels like it is missing: The expectation of what I thought motherhood would be.
I thought I would be a better mother, more organized, more nurturing, better at caring for the little darlings that I brought into the world. I thought I’d make more chore charts and handmade yarn mittens, I thought I’d coach more after school sports, or at least bring more orange slices. I thought I’d plan more Harry Potter themed birthday parties complete with talking sorting hats and brooms strung from the ceiling with fishing line. I thought I’d be tired less and self evolved less. I thought I’d kill fewer indoor plants, outdoor herbs and tropical fish. I thought I’d rescue more kites from trees and find more lost cats and shoes and important papers. I thought I’d do more, do it more smoothly and with less shouting. I’d kiss more and yell less.
I once believed it was my destiny to be a wife and mother. I’d be the best at both, a natural by virtue of the sheer quantity of good mothers and wives that I observed in fiction and reality alike. I saw and read about great mothers, doing mother things with ease and delight. But, I didn’t hear much about the loneliness of motherhood, the bone shaking doubt, the crippling fear of utter incompetence that accompanies caring for other human beings. The ache a mother feels at caring so deeply for her children. The feeling that I am simultaneously the most influential and the least competent person to tend to the needs of these tiny humans.
The list of hurts a mom is faced with managing is long. There are bees and nighttime terrors that coincide with an overwhelming need for sleep or just to be alone with my own thoughts. There are skinned knees and, worse, the pains that you can’t see, that you can’t measure because they are invisible and indeed so much more insidious. Heartbreaks, stomach aches, late night fears that keep you awake wondering if you’ve made a huge mistake. Sure I try my best, even in the tired moments, but it seldom feels adequate. And there are no real breaks.
There are good times, to be sure. They are frequently more plentiful than the trying times. There’s laughter and joy. And there are mundane, average Tuesdays where everyone just floats along, lunches get made in peace and dogs sleep quietly and dishes get put away without nagging. There are moments that reach in and grab your soul because you could just burst with pride and elation over the beautiful human being you contributed to creating and raising. Sometimes I feel as though my heart will break with delight because I see in my daughters a reflection of the parts of me that are decent and pure. And the special bond we get because of what we have been through together. The pains and triumphs that are ours alone to understand, glue us tightly together.
But the real kick you in the teeth pain bee sting in your ear slap in the face of Mother’s Day is that I thought it would be a partnership. This day is a reminder that I thought I was standing in one line, signing up for a specific class, agreeing to a particular arrangement, and I was not. Like so many women, in so many circumstances, we are left alone on the heavy end of the see saw. We stopped playing man to man defense, or even zone defense and realized the rest of the team had already left on the bus.
I admit, there is a village around my daughters and I. People who care for us in amazing and selfless ways, people without whom the ship would sink for sure. And that makes me more fortunate than some. It offers an advantage which I cannot fathom being without. Because even with help, it is the hardest challenge I have ever endured. Because in the deepest part of the night, when I am weary from the days and weeks, when one of my daughters comes to me with a broken heart and I reach deep down and try to find an answer that will satisfy her, will heal up her wound and at the same time allow me to go back to my own tumultuous mind. Because no one else can be there for that or can even really assure me that I’ve done the best I can. Because it is the loneliest job I will ever both love and doubt. For these reasons, I wish there was no yearly reminder that I am a mother.
It’s the loneliness that kills me. And the self doubt. It’s the quiet, though disgruntled, inner voice that suggests that the universe has made a terrible error in allowing me to be the sole caretaker for the minds, bodies and souls of these tremendous human beings. Most days, I feel like barely more than an adolescent myself. And the sheer irony that I’m managing all of this alone, is the cherry on top of a macabre sundae. Just because I planned on doing this as a team is not a way out.
As always, I’m thankful for the little things, the little victories, and the big support we get from our community. I’m thankful for inside jokes and love notes, and unsolicited thank yous. I thankful for an understanding partner who walks home in the early morning hours to make room for sleepy interlopers. I am thankful to friends who send lovely supportive words. But mostly, I am thankful that tomorrow there are 364 days until Mother’s Day.

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And I mean it

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And I mean it

You are a good mom
Because you worry that you are not a good mom
Because you cry and fuss and worry
You are a good mom
Full of all the human emotions of all the other
Humans in the world
These emotions include:
Sadness
Anger
Regret
Impatience
Frustration
Sometimes rage.
You are a good mom
Because you get up when you want to lay down
You try when you want to quit
You keep going
You do the best you can.
You are a good mom
Because you are teaching your kids
To care, to cry, to hurt, to heal, to entertain, to be independent
To be grateful, to be human too.
You are a good mom
Because you laugh, you apologize, you forgive, you feel.
You are a good mom
And I mean it.

You might be a cave person too.

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Starting a blog has opened a pandora’s box of Internet usage for me. Just this week I had my 12 year old daughter teach me how to open an Instagram, use Instagram, insty pic, whatever. And I reopened my Pinterest account with the intent of figuring out how to post without having to ask my daughter how to use it. Some of this stems from the very fact that I have an almost 13 year old. I saw the trailer for Bully, it’s a scary world out there. Have you seen the Pinterest comments lately? Terrifying.

But seriously….Three days a week for the past couple of months I’ve been working with groups of girls around Roanoke city teaching them about how to deal with bullies and how not to be bullies. We’ve talked about anger management and breathing, lots of very cool stuff.   Most of them roll their eyes at me and sigh and look away and do just about anything to avoid engaging with me. But I’ve seen progress. And confidentially I consider myself an expert. I have to. No human could stand up in front of a group of 10-12 year old girls without first convincing themselves they know exactly what they are talking about. They smell fear.

So here I am breathing deeply and talking about getting thoughts out of our reptilian brains 3 days a week, when I am faced with real life bullies. They are not bullying me, but my kids. Nothing gets a mama bear’s hair up on the back of  her neck like hearing somebody being mean to her cubs, uh kids. My immediate reaction is to lash out, put the bully  in her place, make the bully feel small. I totally forget about  giving my child the power to fend for herself  or honoring the hurt that the bully is feeling too. I want revenge.logic and training are the first thing out the door. Oh yeah, reptilian brain… Deep breath, hit backspace…honor the pain. I still wanna punch the little 13 year old twerp in the face. Is this the way Catholic priests feel?

In case you’re worried, I ultimately took the high road.  I believe I did it more out of the threat of repercussions, the possibility of public humiliation than actually believing it was the right thing to do though.  Which is a good feeling to recognize and honor. But its funny how easy it is to forget how much easier things are on paper. Reality is a whole different beast, reality has feelings.  Doing the honorable thing isn’t always satisfying, but neither is spending the night in jail for bitch slapping someone.   When it comes to my kids, I’m little more than a cave woman. Its good to be reminded of that primal part of myself. And that is exactly why I teach (and practice) to take a deep breathe. Otherwise instinct is in control and in the wild mamas protect their young.   I’ll bet many of us  share that, those of us stuck in our reptilian brains and those of us taking deep breaths soon enough to remember how important it is to set the bar higher than cave people.