You feel not good enough
Like all of your kids’ bad traits come from your side
And you’re nowhere near as patient as you should be, showing more restraint with strangers than with your own family.
When your harsh tone is repeated back to you, and you feel like the biggest failure to ever fail, but OHMYGOODNESS that child has been impossible lately. “He’s a good boy” and “it’s a phase” echo in your ears and though you believe those well-meaning words, all you really want to hear is “you’re doing a good job” and “you’re not alone” because you’re not convinced, and it would be so nice to have someone put their arm around you. No passive aggressive jabs, no finding the root of the cause. The root of the cause is age and you are doing a good job, I think.
When the one who loves you so big loves you even bigger in the moment that you least deserve it, that’s a beautiful thing. You wonder how much longer her brown eyes will see only good, and pray it is forever, promising to be better because she thrives on better. You are not perfect, but no one can come close to loving her the way you do, because she is of you and she is for you. That much is obvious when she reaches for you, only you.
Mostly, you do the best with what you’ve got and try not to compare yourself to the people who only serve grass-fed, all-natural organic foods to their children who attend private school while you’re all, “But we got the small fry” as you drive home from your public school that just swept another professional scandal under the proverbial rug.
With a grateful heart, you bear witness to the beauty of your children succeeding and growing and learning and getting back up after they were knocked down. And as your baby’s heavy eyelids succumb to sweet slumber mid-suckle at your breast, you recognize how exquisite serenity is maniacally juxtaposed with back talk and eye rolling and tantrums, and you wonder who is the evil genius behind this shit?!
In the middle of longing for a time when meals were peaceful, or hoping for the day socks find their way inside hampers, you realize you miss the swell of your pregnant belly more than you ever thought you would. The silent ache of emptiness takes you by surprise too often. You view your body as useless, failing to see the distinct irony of relying on it to carry a sleeping child from the car or put those friggin’ socks inside the hamper, you guys I’ve said it a million times!
Highs and lows, you’re in one of those temporary valleys, convinced it’s your attitude’s fault, snarling instead of smiling at the people who mean the most to you, the ones who are driving you effing crazy because they’re loving you despite obvious and countless shortcomings. Inconvenienced by simple things, enraged by stupid things, you’re left feeling stuck between two worlds: one that welcomes you, another that pretends you don’t exist and makes you want your Mom.
Small worries have morphed into all-consuming fears, some trivial, some substantial:
Matching Adele’s big notes
Gluten-free and free-range
Tornadoes and global warming
Spending too much money
Not having enough time to write
Keeping the faith
Syrian refugees and unwittingly repeating Holocaust
Remembering my Kindergartner’s library book
Violence and hate and murder–how long until human bodies litter the roadside?
My kids eat too much junk food
Are we having enough sex?
You’re about to do a thing you’ve done a million times, a thing that doesn’t require thought or attention–using your turn signal, turning on the coffee–but for a split second, you forget how to do that thing, and you pause. And the pause gives you pause because is this normal? Is this your new normal?
Nobody really gets you, but they’re all very nice and have the best of intentions. Your shoulders are broad so you don’t complain about carrying the brunt of others’ burdens, so you allow for time to adjust to the extra weight. You juggle and balance, and as the weight begins to evenly distribute–to your heart, mind, and body–you realize there’s no room left for your own. Snide remarks about your bad mood or the unwillingness to give you space are what send you over the edge, spilling the bag of secrets you had been holding for everyone else. You feel lighter, yet no better.
Missing getting tangled in the curly cords of telephones affixed to wallpapered kitchen walls, a time when your brother cared enough to take care of himself. Being angry but understanding because it’s so much easier. Spilled bags, lighter yet no better. The constant tug of war; what’s best for them isn’t what’s best for you, but you hoist the bag over your shoulder because that’s what they expect so that’s what you do.
You’ve spent so much time and energy building something, yet rarely celebrate the successes. You can fixate on all the people who say no thank you, or you could revel in the glory that is being ahead of where you were yesterday. The latter is so hard, and you don’t know why. Is it human nature or is the grateful heart with which you claim to view life a figment of your imagination, a shield? You want more, you want less. You have bigger, you want smaller. You welcome the chaos, you cover your ears. You look for the best, you don’t appreciate the sincere effort. You are not alone.