Motherhood – At the End of the Day (part 3)

So, after the big mom-fail the other night, I was sitting at work the next day, feeling really lousy, so I decided to go pay a lunchtime visit. She wrapped her arms around me and said, “I’m really sorry about last night, Mom.”

Then, that night, before bed she asked me if she was forgiven.

Oh! My baby girl. Of course you are. Always and completely. And please forgive me too.

This precious, tender-hearted child. I hate the idea that the world you live in will someday hurt you. I dread the day that heart of yours gets its first callus. Hold on to the gentleness, and the tenderness, and the softness that make you who you are.

And God help me to give you just enough toughness to THRIVE, to show the world that gentle hearts are the heroes we need.

Motherhood is hard. And it is the best job I’ve ever had.

I hope she wants to play some video games together this weekend.

Motherhood – At the End of the Day (part 2)

imageAs I sat on the front steps tonight, trying to let the cool air help me get it together, I thought about motherhood. I had that moment we moms never want to admit to, the one when we think, “Is this what being a mom is? Is this IT?!”

We think these words in all the different stages, or at least I have, so far. We wonder about it when we’re up at all hours feeding and changing diapers. We wonder about it when we’re cleaning up yet another “didn’t quite make it to the toilet” mess. We wonder about it when we’re wearing vomit to work. We wonder about it when we’re scavenging through the cabinets for something acceptable to pack for their lunch because we forgot to go to the grocery store. We think about it when we leave them crying for us at school. We think about it when balancing the checkbook is just a joke.

Yeah, all of it. It’s all motherhood.

Tonight, these are some of the things crowding my mind.

Tonight, motherhood is (among a gazillion other things):

– Putting the finishing touches on that school project because she was falling asleep on her feet. (I admit it.)

– Hoping the check for the upcoming field trip won’t clear before payday.

– Doing yet another load of laundry at 11 p.m. because she’s down to only 2 pairs of pants that fit. And they’re both dirty, of course.

– Guilt.

– Worrying about the next milestone of girlhood happening too early.

– Wishing you hadn’t said that thing you said earlier.

– Wishing you HAD said that other thing earlier.

– Wanting her to see herself through your eyes.

– Thinking you need a second job to keep her dressed.

– Hidden tears.

– Guilt.

– Trying to figure out what’s wrong.

– Self-doubt.

– Worrying that she’s picking up your bad attitude toward nutrition.

– Eating the Oreos. All the damn Oreos.

– Worrying that she’s too sensitive.

– Guilt.

– Worrying because she’s nailing your gift of sarcasm.

– Asking yourself how important spelling is, REALLY.

– Wondering if you’re being a pushover.

– Hoping you aren’t being too harsh.

– Juggling.

– Guilt

– Worrying you’re looking at your phone too much.

– But really, REALLY, wanting to finish that video of the talking cat.

– Cursing under your breath.

– Feeling guilty for cursing out loud.

– Holding in the crazy/rage/tears/indignation/sarcasm.

– Wondering if your husband thinks you’ve completely lost it and is just afraid to say so.

– Losing it.

– Knowing you’ve lost it.

– Guilt.

– Plotting what you would do to all the child abusers/molesters/neglecters, if you were in charge. (It ain’t pretty.)

– The knowledge that, yes, you could maim someone. (See above.)

– Googling.

– Guilt

– Praying she doesn’t inherit your particular neuroses.

– Seeing your particular neuroses in her.

– Feeling helpless.

– Wondering how many years of therapy she’ll need.

– Wondering how many years of therapy YOU need. Now.

– Staying up too late, after stressing the importance of sleep. For her.

– Dreading the words, “So, there’s this boy.”

– Praying that when there’s that boy, she’ll talk to you about him.

– Wondering whether to email the doctor or not.

– Guilt

– Knowing you’re being judged by other moms.

– Failing.

– Sitting on the front steps, alone,  in the dark, at night, petting your prodigal cat, falling apart, letting it all come to the surface in the form of ugly crying.

– Forcing it back down.

– Pasting on a smile.

– Pretending periods aren’t all that bad.

– Hiding.

– Wanting to protect her, above ALL ELSE.

– Guilt

– Willing her to be tough, to stand up for herself.

– Praying she never loses her kindness.

– Dreading the day her sweet, tender, heart is wounded.

– Knowing it will happen.

– Wishing she’d be more independent.

– Dreading the day she’s more independent.

– Telling yourself to “Suck it up, buttercup,” at least a dozen times a day.

– Needing to apologize to your Mom.

– There’s  that guilt again.

– Loving, and hurting, more than you ever dreamed.

– Wanting more than anything in the world, to fix it, whatever “it” is.

– Treading the fine line between protecting her from the world and educating her about the world, in all its beauty and ugliness.

– Channeling your inner Mama Bear in a way that would frighten The Hulk.

– Missing your best friend.

– Doubting.

– Praying for mercy.

– And grace.

– And forgiveness.

– Holding on.

– Knowing your world revolves around that little girl, and being completely ok with that. (Though you wouldn’t mind a girls’ night, with a girlfriend  or two who would make you feel a bit more normal…or at least slightly less of a freak.)

– Praying that no matter what, she’ll always, always, ALWAYS know that you love her. More than anything.

– Loving with a frightening ferocity.

Motherhood ain’t for sissies. 

Hang in there, Mama.

Motherhood – At the End of the Day (part 1)

imageSitting outside on the cold front steps tonight, in the dark, petting my prodigal cat, I cried.

I ugly-cried.

You know what I’m talking about: big, fat, tears chasing each other down my cheeks, snot dripping, eyes swelling so much I could actually feel it happening, heat radiating off my skin, heaving, shuddering, breaths…the kind of crying that leaves your whole face splotchy and swollen for the next 12 hours.

Unfortunately, it started before I got out the door, meaning my kid saw the beginning – the watery eyes and quavery voice that told me I was gonna lose it. The crazy was coming out. My kid can not STAND to see people hurt or upset, especially people she loves. And she thought it was her fault.

Great, more guilt to heap on the pile of CRAP that was weighing me down, forcing the tears out.

I don’t know if my daughter has an anxiety disorder. I loathe that label. Detest it. And I want to believe that she’s just a natural worrier. But this is excessive. She doesn’t want to sleep alone. Every night she begs to sleep with us. On the rare occasion that she manages to fall asleep and stay asleep in her bed, she sleeps great for several hours. Sometimes she comes to my side of the bed in the middle of the night, but usually,  if she manages to get off to sleep, she rests peacefully. But most nights, it’s a battle, one that I lose because she needs her sleep, and I know that if I relent and let her get in my bed, she’ll drift right off.  Most nights as I lay with her, silently (and sometimes not so silently) willing her to go to sleep, she dozes off, but jerks awake every few minutes and checks to see if I’m still there.

This is somewhat normal, right? Separation anxiety?

But she’s 9 years old.

That doesn’t seem normal.

Are you afraid? Are you worried about something? Are you upset? Did something happen at school? Is someone bullying you? Is a UFO parking outside your window and shining its lights inside? Is there a pea poking you in the back?

Her answers range from “no,” to “I don’t know,” to “really, mom?”

I’ve changed her mattress, I’ve tried new night lights. No night lights. I’ve left the door open. I’ve closed the door. Glow in the dark stars. Heated blankets. Kittens – yes, real, live, kittens. I’ve offered bribes. I’ve threatened. I’ve reasoned. I’ve prayed. I’ve scratched her back. I’ve sang songs. I’ve told stories. I’ve made a play list of songs for her to listen to. I’ve begged her to trust me, that she’s safe, that I’m just in the next room, that I will check on her often.

Nothing helps. Nothing except sleeping with me.

For a long time her dad and I let it go, knowing it won’t last forever. She’s not going to want to sleep in my bed when she’s in high school, right? (Right?!) I’ve reasoned that someday she likely won’t want to be in the same room with me much less sleep with me. But now? She’s a 4 ft 2 inch, 80 pound, 9 year old. Her dad and I are not small people. Even in a king size bed, it’s not comfortable. No one sleeps well. Not even her, though you can’t convince her of that.

So tonight, the stress of battle got to this soldier-mom.

I sent her to my bed and tried to flee before the crazy came out. I didn’t quite make it. Just after I came in off the porch, here she came, tentatively padding down the hall, into her Daddy’s arms. I didn’t want her to see the aftermath on my face so I stayed turned away, but then she said, “I can’t sleep when I know you’re upset.”

*sigh*

Motherhood fail number 847,602.