So here’s something weird – sometimes I feel like your mom (even though you look nothing like me) and it feels natural and all those instincts that everyone talks about are strong.
Yet other times, I wonder WTF I’m doing – how do I know how to teach you lessons, how do I know how to mother, and how do I know to set boundaries, to discipline, to nurture in your best interests? These are the times I feel like I’m your babysitter or au pair, like any minute your “real” mom is going to come and take over, someone who knows *exactly* what they’re doing.
Please know that this has nothing to do with not connecting to you, or loving you enough, or not thinking you are awesome enough – it’s quite the opposite. It’s so good and you’re so phenomenal that sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s no dream – that I really do have the privilege of being your mom.
I love you dude,
I’ve been mulling over this post for a while. I’ve wanted to share it, and have needed to get it off my chest, but honestly, I’m scared that this post will come across the wrong way, I’m scared you’ll judge me, I’m scared others will judge me, but mostly, I fear that I’ll end up judging myself once again.
See Max, even before you were born, I adored you. I loved my pregnancy and when you were born, I was besotted. Without question. And I felt bonded. And everything went well – from getting you into a routine, to breastfeeding, to getting help, to sleeping. You weren’t colicky, you were thank G-d healthy and thriving, and I was finding time to exercise, have my nails done, read books, Facebook and go out. It all appeared fab, and people commented on how well I was “managing” and “adjusting”, and wasn’t I just loving motherhood. And the truth is I wasn’t. I was battling to find my new identity as a mom, struggling to share my time and energy, and resenting my “sentence”. And that’s how it felt. Like the end, not the beginning. Like I was trapped, like I’d lost “me” and I mourned it. Add to that a low self esteem, fights at home and I wanted to go back in time, not progress.
I loved you so much, but I didn’t like motherhood. At all. It had nothing to do with you – you were (and still are) perfection. And I felt alone, and guilty and like I’d failed before I even had a good chance to get started. See, no one prepares new moms for this. No one warns you that you might not be shouting about the joys of motherhood from the rooftops, that you might not be in love with mothering.
And I hope that you won’t think me a crappy mother, and I hope you’ll understand that this wasn’t about you per se – it was me. Perhaps it was the wonky hormones, the issue of adjustment, the lack of good preparation, my nature, or just because I was too stoic and ashamed to ask for help, or too myopic to even consider that others might be going through what I was.
I’m not sure at what point I started coming to terms with being a mother, and falling in love with it. It wasn’t an “aha” moment, nor an epiphany, but rather time, adjustment, experience, connecting with similar moms, opening up. And eventually I knew that I had the most privileged position ever – being your mom. And that my life went on. Different, but better. Harder, but more rewarding.
And as I write this, you are running around in circles holding your orange Reese’s ball, giggling, and entertaining. And my heart is growing with you. As is my love of motherhood.
Below is from my latest editor’s letter from Living & Loving, which I *need* to share here too. I know it may sound odd that I have found friendship online, among people, many of whom I’ve never met, but these peeps often “get” me and kind of know us more than many of our real-life peeps. Odd. But true. And wonderful.
“I’m privileged to have lots of mommy friends in real life, and those on Twitter, Facebook and blogs who not only make me feel normal, but who are there to support me with every new tooth, guilt-ridden moment and 2am wakeup. Many of my best “friends” in the computer I’ve never met, but I feel we know each other really well, from our kids’ names and food preferences, to our hobbies and most best TV shows. We share our kids’ pictures and ogle over them, commiserate when one of our children has a fever, and celebrate each other’s milestones as if they were our own. We swap advice, dream about Saturday afternoon naps, and give a heads-up on the latest clothing sales.
The moms who I connect with are similar to me, I guess, in the fact that we’re all sometimes stumbling along, doing our best, never claiming we’re perfect and not shy to admit when we’ve given our kids cereal for supper, or gone a week without washing their hair. But what’s best is that we don’t judge each other for any of it, and that’s what makes it a unique and comforting connection, even if it is a cyber one, or via a Smartphone.
It would be so easy to judge another mom for co-sleeping with her children when it’s not your viewpoint, or be critical towards a mother for “only” breastfeeding for a month while you did so for a year, or get angry when kids get the naughty step when you’d never do that. Motherhood is tough, but it’s made easier with each other’s support, nurturing and, when called for, a sense of humour.
To the moms I know face-to- face, and to those in the computer, thank you for the connections and compassion. I hope I can offer the same.”