Come here. I want to whisper some words into your ear.
Stop beating yourself up. Stop being so hard on yourself. Please. You're not the only mother who loses her $#@& sometimes. WE ALL DO IT.
I'm around Moms all day. We all start off with small-talk and pleasantries, but it's always just a matter of time before the Mom-worries begin to flow:
- "Only two more weeks of school. I don't know if I'm ready. I'll be a basket case by mid-June. I don't think I was cut out for parenting."
- Or "She won't sleep! She screams all day and all night and I'm so tired I can't even focus my eyes. I'm completely useless at this."
- Or "I have to take Josh to the allergist later today. He's making that weird sound in his throat again and I just can't figure out what's going on. Why can't I get some answers?"
- Or "My daughter cried at the bus stop today. The other girls pick on her about her clothes. I know it's just how girls this age act, but telling her that doesn't help and I just hate seeing her so sad. How am I going to make this better?"
- Or "His teacher called again last night. He's zoning out in class. I've changed his diet and taken him off the soccer team, but nothing seems to help. What am I doing wrong?"
- Or "I have to clean up my kids' diet. They eat too much junk and I know it's horrible for them. I feel like I'm failing them."
- Or "I yell all the time! I used to swear I would never yell at my kids. I HATE yelling. They're going to have complexes!"
- Or "They're experimenting with drugs. I'm terrified they'll destroy themselves. And I can't even tell them that I didn't do drugs so they shouldn't, because I did it when I was a kid. I don't have a leg to stand on!"
Meanwhile the internet, Twitter, Facebook, every outlet of expression available absolutely hum with the words of mothers, overlapping and intertwining -- a million-voice women's chorus of worry and wonder and what-should-I-do-about-this and why-am-I-this-way-when-I-want-to-be-THAT-way? No matter where you look, one or many of us quietly or loudly ponder our brokenness and ineptitude as mothers.
Motherhood, so full of joy and bliss and reward and beauty, drips fear and pain and stress on us every single day, no matter the age of our kids. Each of us started off as wide-eyed, dependent children ourselves, and now all-of-a-sudden we're totally responsible for a brand new pair (or two, or seven) of wide-eyes and a case of full-on dependency. And as growing up itself does, every moment of mothering brings a new question or problem to solve that we haven't ever had to solve before. So while we naturally feel for them, the moment they're in our arms, this fierce, protective attachment, and while our children wash our hearts and fill our eyes with love, they also drag us further and further into unexplored frontiers of ourselves and our experience with every subsequent heartbeat.
Walking in the unknown, bearing responsibility for one little life or many little lives is some enormously and constantly tough mental and emotional weight. No matter how many children we have, no matter what support we have, no matter where we came from or how we were raised ourselves, we're in brand new territory every day, having to read the map while running full speed in the direction we hope leads to the final destination of happy, healthy, affirmed, responsible children-grown-adults. Running and wondering and researching and readjusting and recalibrating. It's important work - the most important, I'd argue, of all the work that humans do - and it's heavy and stressful and complicated and never-ending.
Is it any wonder we blow up, break down, and occasionally (temporarily) give up? Why we deeply crave reassurance? Why we stress and worry and occasionally panic? If we were, say, brand new heart surgeons, showing up for our first solo surgery, but wearing blindfolds, with our operating rooms set up on top of a space shuttle as it rocketed to Mars, and our patients remained awake and alert and periodically (or constantly) screamed at us while we installed our first new valve and sewed up our first real artery, would we not eventually have to blow up, tell our patients to SHUT UP!, throw down our instruments and storm away sobbing? (Because I'd argue that trying to shepherd a sick, tired, opinionated three year old through a grocery store run or get a hormone-riddled teenaged girl put down her phone, clean up her room and do her homework can be every bit as complicated and stressful as blind, non-anesthetized open heart surgery in mid-air.) (Wouldn't you?)
We are truly all unsure of how to do this job right. We all, at times, find it unimaginably complicated and stressful and frustrating. We're all on-the-job-training on the blurred, moving line between adoration and terror, trying to get it right in flight, trying to figure all it out and get it done, simultaneously.
It's motherhood, it's beautiful and privileged and rewarding, but y'all? Motherhood is doing the impossible every day, and it's hard, and sometimes it just plain drives us bonkers and brings out the ugly in us. And it's okay to admit that, and it's okay to feel it, and express it, and even resent it sometimes.
And as the chorus of mother-voices will echo, you are totally, totally not alone.