Monday, June 27, 2016

For the Mom Who Feels Like the Worst

The other night, I had myself a little hissy fit.

The house was empty except for me, so I had a good cry - the kind where it's hard to breathe and you make strange, unintelligible noises.



All I could see in those moments were my failures and shortcomings, the problems I face and the circumstances that overwhelm.

My mothering life is likely different from yours. I am divorced and remarried, so custody arrangements and visitation schedules, especially during the summer, are inescapable truths. Our schedule is a finely tuned instrument requiring coordination and calendars, planning and production. And though it looks nice and neat on the calendar, it is its own special hell for me.

It means that I, a mommy, am sometimes without my children. Those blue cells on the calendar represent nights, and during the summer, weeks, without those who grew within me. I cannot explain the agony.

My tears were set off by a sweet night with my sisters. We - and their children - met for ice cream. But my own children weren't there, and it hurt. I just wanted to be "normal," yelling at my kids not to get too close to the road and cleaning up their ice cream drips on the picnic table. But my life is different, and I was reminded that night I cannot change what I did not choose. It's a hard lesson to learn.

You might not understand the specific struggles I face, but your mothering has its own special hell, too, I'm sure.

We mothers all want to do a good job, whatever that actually means. We want our children to feel loved and secure, to have all they need, to be prepared to confidently leave us when that time comes. But none of these desires comes with a clear road map, and each day we mother requires us to navigate a path we've never walked down before. Each child we mother requires re-learning what we thought we already knew. Each moment requires patience and presence when we sometimes just want to escape.

Mothering, in every form, is really hard, and it's a task you never really know if you're doing well. It's a long-term investment with short-term agony.

Whatever it is that makes you feel less-than as a mom today, know this: you have everything you need to be the mom your kids need. They were given to you because you are equipped to mother their hearts and raise them to be the adults they are intended to be.

Your circumstances might be incredibly difficult, and your life might be the exact opposite of how you wish it were. From a human perspective, the list of what you lack might be greater than what you have. You may lie in bed at night replaying all you did wrong, but there's always one thing you do right - you love them with every beat of your heart.

Give yourself grace today, mom. No, you are not perfect. You are far from it, and you fail in many ways. There is always more of you that's needed, and there's never enough of you present. But none of that means you are a failure as a mom. None of that means you should throw in the towel and quit giving what you can. You are not perfect, but you are perfectly capable of being the mother you are supposed to be.

Maybe you, too, need to have a good hissy fit. A good cry can cleanse the soul. Cry it out, let it out, and then pick yourself up. Mothering was never intended to be rainbows and butterflies. It was intended to be the hard work of raising strong, intelligent, determined people who know why and by whom they were created.

You can do this, mom.

Get back at it.