For those who read my previous blogs, you know that I really wanted to be a mom and that I struggled through multiple miscarriages and was lucky enough to give birth to a perfectly healthy baby. That first moment when you hold your baby for the first time, you never forget it. It’s engraved in your heart forever.
That first moment takes on a new meaning when you had problems conceiving or/and miscarriage or/and had a premature child. I am aware of how lucky I am to have this child and how close I came to never have that dream fulfilled. I remember the hurt and the loss and the hope. I am aware that the situation of her birth has made me an over-protective, over-attached mother. I knew that I would hold her in my heart forever. I love this child so much and I promised myself that I would do everything I could to make sure she grew up happy and safe. It sounds normal enough. Little did I know that it was a promise that would grow and make me physically ill.
Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs anyone can do, and it will take you to your very limits sometimes.
I can still feel my child, so tiny, snuggled on my chest. I was the mom who kissed boo-boos and magically made everything better.
Our child was thrilled about the idea of going to school so we enrolled her in pre-kindergarten. I was and still am the mom who signs notes and checks homework and packs lunches.
When her father and I separated, our child was 6-years-old. I made sure that she would see it as a positive and I made sure she knew she was loved. My ex-spouse let me set the tone, because in his words: “I’m better at that stuff.”
We had shared custody, but I was responsible for doctor appointments, school meetings, etc. Her dad would let me handle that stuff because “I’m better at that stuff.”
Meanwhile, I would see online all these pictures of mothers cooking, cleaning, making special lunches and DIY projects for their children. I’m not the kind of mother who will make my own ornaments or holiday decorations. I never was the DIY mother, but I loved my child and encouraged her in everything she showed interest in. Not all moms fit the mould. That being said, I’m the mom who loves her child so much more than I could ever explain.
I am the mom who struggles every single day to accomplish the things that have to be done so that you can have a “normal” life.
Years later, I caught an online predator going after my elementary school-age child and it triggered my own struggles with anxiety and depression. That was the worse moment of our lives. I took care of it and got through the issue. Again, her dad congratulated me on catching it on time and said he let that stuff to me because “I’m better at that stuff.”
I became so worried about everything. I thought if I anticipated every little thing that might go wrong, then maybe I could fend things off. I thought it was my responsibility as a mother to control everything, to be ready for everything.
The problem is that’s not possible. Things will always go wrong. I woke up every morning with a feeling of dread.
The best you can do is give your kids self-confidence. Unfortunately, I’m afraid I passed on my anxiety instead, in the form of social anxiety, because when Mom is always afraid of the everything that could go wrong, the world becomes something to fear.
My home is never 100% clean. If it comes down to doing something with my child, or cleaning, my child will win out. I make the best of every day.
Now, the teen years are starting. She hates school, always has and at this point, it’s clear she will never like it. She is moody. Even she has questioned her own moodiness. I couldn’t make her happy. In my eyes and in my heart I was failing as a mother. The guilt is horrible. You tell yourself you’re failing your children almost every moment. I spoke to her doctor about it. He says welcome to the teenage years. It’s normal.
It got so bad, she wanted to quit school. I didn’t know what to do anymore. I feel like I am also the mom who is failing. Oh, if we could just pull the covers back over our heads and not get up.
I called the school. I got her help. She was evaluated and they told me that yes, she hates school and she’s a bit depressed about having to go every day, but she’s not in a “dangerous place”. She does have a learning disability that isn’t helping. They will see if they can do anything, but she’s smart and isn’t in danger of failing yet.
The problem is at home she would cry her soul out wondering if any of it was worth it. I didn’t know what else I could do to help her. I was (and still am) so scared of losing her to suicide, even though she was evaluated by experts and assessed as being sad, but not depressed.
There wasn’t an hour in the day or night where I wasn’t worried about someone I love, about work and/or about finances.
I crashed. I had severe anxiety and depression. To the point where I was suffering from multiple neverending migraines, I was constantly nauseous and couldn’t hold any food down. I was so stressed out that I’d be vomiting and having diarrhoea at the same time. I was killing myself with anxiety. I was even hospitalized and put on sick-leave.
“Friendly reminder that “doing your best” does not mean working yourself to the point of mental breakdown. ” – Unknown
Due to my own struggle with depression and anxiety, I get overwhelmed too easily. I’m the mom who tries to hide when things get to be too much. I’m that mom who cries and is literally ill in the bathroom when I feel like I’m letting you down.
Everything felt worse because of my own anxiety, because my happiness relied on her happiness, on everyone I loved’s happiness. I somehow translated being the perfect mom and the perfect human being as being responsible for everyone else’s happiness. If constantly felt like the default person responsible for everything that goes on in and outside the home. It came to a point when I was never happy because there was always someone I loved who was having a bad day. I felt like a constant failure.
“Alright, what are we going to do. She has held this entire family hostage since Monday. Now the weekend is coming. Parenting is hard. I don’t want to do it all day.” – Life In Pieces S2:14
It was time to back off and slow down. It was time to take care of myself first, even if it made me feel extremely selfish. My life was depending on it.I had nothing left to give others. We just have to keep reminding ourselves that taking care of yourself isn’t selfishness, it’s a necessity. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.
I’m currently working on making myself better. There are days that I’m better at taking care of myself than others, but I’m trying to let go of that need/responsibility to make everyone happy. I am not perfect, but I am enough.
It’s difficult to step back and accept that you have done everything possible and you can’t fix everything. Especially when you’re the mom who wants to slay all of your child’s dragons and breathe fire on anyone who dares to hurt her/him.
I am done fighting about homework every day. If she closes down and refuses, then she has to deal with the consequences. My relationship with my child is more important than homework. If she fails, then it’s on her. Here’s the truth: most kids aren’t straight-A students, and that’s okay! I ask about homework every day. I’m here to help. If she refuses, then I’m done with the constant fighting. I can’t force her to love school. I can’t force her to be happy on Monday mornings.
I want to enjoy snuggling, talking, playing video games together, going to the park, etc. I’m the mom who wouldn’t trade those smiles for the entire world. I am blessed to have a healthy child. We love each other, and we laugh together. I’m a great listener and an epic encourager.
I am not perfect at parenting, but I love my child and I think that is okay. I think we all need this reminder sometimes. I’ve found that being raw and real about my own struggles has helped others, so I do it for those who haven’t found their voice yet.