I read this excerpt from the book, "The Mother's Guide to the Meaning of Life: What Being a Mom has Taught Me about Resilience, Guilt, Acceptance, and Love" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and just knew I had to write about it:
I don't know what I'm doing half the time. Don't know if all my decisions and efforts and love will tally up in a way that means my children will walk away from the carnival with the jumbo stuffed animal. I do what I can, what is in my power, but there are just so many other factors at work: things that are predetermined at birth; things that happen at school; things that happen in the in-between spaces; things I can't even fathom yet; things I'm unintentionally doing all wrong. That which is beyond my control, beyond my understanding, beyond the horizon, shrivels me. (pages 121-122)
I read this in the midst of a very, very tough week. I have been sick. The kids have been sick. And it just kept getting worse. I had my in-laws in town and had all these fun plans, productive plans, things I would get done now that I FINALLY had help. None of it got done of course and I barely enjoyed some of the outings we had with them and the kids because I was so damn sick. I was in such a foul mood, my patience was shot...and they saw me that way with my kids!
Here's the thing: I know every single mom has lost it with their kid(s). It is just inevitable I think. However, most moms are smart enough to not do that in front of others! But that was how sick, tired and overwhelmed with never-ending lists I was. I could not contain my frustration. I was an impatient, nagging, yelling mom to my two toddlers who were also feeling sick (which of course makes it even worse).
I am pretty sure every mom works hard to achieve the "good mom" title. It can come from anywhere, and I'll take it...the man at the grocery store who tells me I have the patience of a saint (if only!), my mom who reassures me that I am a good mom, my husband...and we all know if our kids tell us we are a good mom, we've hit the jackpot! But...like any annoying therapist would do (believe it or not, that's what I do for a living!), when it's dark and I am wallowing in mommy guilt, I ask myself, "What do I mean by "good mom?" What does it take to earn that title? Does it look the same to everyone? Is it a handful of moments strung together, like the last week of monster mommy in my house? Or, perhaps, is it millions of small and uneventful interactions that, over time, make up the relationships I have with my children? I'd like to think it's the latter. I can choose to look at the past week and beat myself up (because I was a meanie!) and remember only the bad moments. There were good ones too - times I was told "mommy, sit!" and sat and gave my undivided attention, times I rocked them and snuggled them before bed, times I laughed when they were being silly, times I took interest in their art projects, times I kissed boos boos, fed them meals, changed their diapers...you get the idea. I didn't put weight on THOSE times...but why? I have to make a different choice. I have to choose to focus on the beauty in our relationships, the things I do well, the joyous moments - of which there are many. I am a strong believer in: you get more of what you pay attention to. I just suck at living it. So I'm going to keep trying to be better, to do better, and to notice when I do.
The end of the excerpt above is both freeing and terrifying. I do not make up my children's entire lives - so much of who they are, who they will become, has to do with so many other things that I have absolutely no control over. So, first of all, get over myself. Second of all, lock them up! Seriously, though, why do moms shoulder all the weight of how their children turn out? I know...I mean, I really know, because I do this for a living...how important mothers are for their children's success and health. I really do. We are powerful. But we aren't ALL powerful. I have conflicting feelings about that. In some ways, I'd love to be the only factor in my kids' lives - because no one loves them more than I do and I know I would always keep their best interests at heart. On the other hand, they have so many rich and beautiful relationships and experiences outside of me. And, yes, they will have negative relationships and experiences...but maybe, just maybe, that's what our safe, normal, every day negative interactions are preparing them for? I 'd like to think so. So I will.
When Panic Attacks
13 hours ago