This weekend I realized, on a greater scale, the difficulty of handling my emotions of being a parent. Although I have experienced situations before, this past weekend, the walls closed in around me tighter and faster than I was prepared for. It displeases me when negative situations give no foreshadowing of their presence in my life. They just show up, with no apology of their unwelcomed visit. I understand that two people can be in a marriage and still feel the burden of someone who is single. In either situation, the weight of inadequacy, guilt, and fear are all the same. The emotional tug-of-war of balancing the emotions while making a consistent decision that will affect your child is draining. The decision of whether you are making a rule based off of being frustrated or as a result of actual behavior is a daily battle.
It is imperative that I maintain my own life separate from my child’s; which can be difficult whether married or single. Being a single parent, I am so use to merging him into my plans that after three years, I realize how it is affecting my own growth. I’ve always been one who likes to figure things out on my own (which is a good quality) and handle my own responsibilities and understand now that in my efforts to be “super mom” that I have mentality exhausted myself and my self growth.
I have to maintain a life outside of my child! Although he is very articulate and we have interesting conversations; I would like to extend my vocabulary beyond, “stop it,” “get down,” “don’t touch that!” its very taxing on me mental psyche. I CANNOT and WILL NOT live a life that is so completely wrapped up into him that I cannot function away from him; Most people call that “living vicariously through your children’s lives.” I must unravel my honesty in saying that I already see signs of that happening with me. I would rather be exhausted and tired with him rather than be lonely without him. Because, then I am admitting that I CANNOT DO IT ALL ! and that I need HELP! What a tough emotional battle to put myself through, but it is one that I have to overcome. Coming from a world that admitting you need anything beyond what you cannot fulfill is showing signs of WEAKNESS. I cannot allow my child to fill a void that I carry within my own life. It’s not fair nor healthy for me or him. I am often reminded of the scene in Waiting to Exhale when the mother reluctantly lets her so go away on the one year band excursion. Realizing selfishly, that she only wanted him to stay to provide comfort to herself. I can look at that and say, “that’s so selfish” but when I take a look at my own life, I realize that I am on the path to the same emotional pull.
Please don’t get me wrong, I understand it all. I understand that I’m going to miss the times where he snuggles up against me, or we spend Saturday nights in the middle of the floor putting together puzzles, or dancing in the middle of the floor. I completely understand that and I cherish all of those moments. They are captured in pictures, videos and I have a journal especially for him that I cannot wait to present him at the appropriate time.
But I’m talking about those moments where all I want to do I lay down because I have a migraine or because my back is pounding or I can’t walk because I have vertigo. I’m talking about those moments where I would like to drink an entire cup of coffee without feeling guilty about offering him a sip. I’m talking about those moments where I don’t feel guilty about being too tired to go outside and kick the soccer ball with him or feeling too guilty about having soo much homework to do that I have to spend most of my evenings and Saturday nights tying on the laptop. I’m talking about those moments where as soon as we hit the door he says, “mommy, are you going to be on your laptop tonight?”
I CANNOT and WILL NOT allow myself to parent out of guilt. I don’t want to live a life where I feel as though I am constantly making up to him what I feel like he lost; compromising my standards. I’ve seen what its like for parents to feel as though they have to constantly make up to their kids what they feel they lacked. For me, it’s not about the gifts, I know that for my son, his love language is quality time. So, when he sees me stop what I’m doing to spend time with him his is elated!
Being a mother has totally opened my eyes up to how selfish I was before becoming a mom. Loving someone outside of yourself is the ultimate act of LOVE. It is my pleasure to give freely to him what I have from the inside out. I communicate with him on a regular basis that I LOVE HIM. When mommy is on her laptop that: I LOVE HIM. When mommy is tired: I LOVE HIM. When mommy is not happy with his behavior that: I LOVE HIM. It’s hard, it’s tough, it’s draining BUT it’s worth it!
I am reminded often of the days when I was in college and I would come in after practice, drop my bags by the door, and flop down on the couch (dirty and all) and relax. As a mother, those opportunities are few and far between, and I find myself having to learn what to do when I am alone. I don’t now whether to take a nap, read a book, write, or hang out with friends. Being alone is new territory for me, and I have to re-learn how to be IYHIA again. Going to work, softball practice, and softball games are hardly what a mother would call-a break! And this is another area where I have to relieve myself of guilt because I feel as though I spend all day pouring into other peoples kids (which I love) and I hardly have the energy to pour into my own at the end of the day. Which, leaves me feeling defeated!
When he was a little baby there were constant takers wanting to keep him and give mommy a break, now that he is older and more active those breaks are few and far between. I have to admit even when I do get breaks I have a hard time relaxing myself. I end up with just as much emotional drainage as I had when he is with me. My thoughts consist of: How is he acting? Is he too active? What is he saying? Is the other person tired? Are they wandering how long it will be before I pick him back up? Is he wandering where I am? With all the circulatory thoughts that race in his absence, I rarely embrace the freedom that I so desperately wanted in the first place and I come back just as tired as when I left.
I have to learn to let go and understand just like the Tyler Perry Movie: A Family that Preys, that I CANNOT be my child’s only influence in this life. It is ok if he is around other people (that I trust of course) that will pour into this life and help him become the man that he is suppose to be. I have to fight hard because (I have to admit) the only person I completely trust to oversee and protect him is myself. I am always in fear of something happening to my child which is a red flag that I’m holding on too tight. My lil man is the one area that the devil constantly intrudes on. In dreams I have “lost” him many times. I sometimes have anxiety attacks at work thinking that something will happen to him, when he is walking to check the mail I wander if he will slip down the hill and roll into the street right as a car is coming. So, I am constantly grabbing his hand, stopping him in his tracks and keeping him inside. I am placing my fears on his life and it is crippling me and him in an unhealthy way.
I understand that we have to let them go and I am trying desperately. Allowing him to spend the night with my parents has been a stretch because I come home to silence and it scares me. I don’t know what to do with myself, I start to miss the very things that I wanted a break from: his laugh, his voice, and his questions. I struggle in knowing know how to BE without him.
I’m realizing that its ok that I want some space so I can write and study and have quiet time to think. I don’t always have to be the one who entertains him every second of the day. That I can free myself of the guilt of him being an only child and that in his eyes he is ok.
I don’t want to cripple or hinder him form being who he is and what he is made for. So, I’m learning to let go and that I don’t have to be with him 24/7 to deem myself a “good mother” that its ok if I spend time away from him and that I hear about a special moment that he had with someone else instead of me. Its ok for him to be around other people who can bring something different to the table that will help him become a better person. Its ok for me to let go! its ok for me to be tired! its ok for me to have a social life outside of my lil man! its ok for me to say no! its ok for me to want to scream when things get overwhelming! ITS OK!!! because having these emotions do not disqualify me of being a good mother, it makes me normal.
But there are days where I need encouragement, a pick me up or permission to say, “I”m tired. I know there are days that I have to suck it up and overcome it all and I’m willing to do that. Those days where I had a fever and chills and I decided to go to work anyway in order to save my days for my lil man in case he was sick, and still muscle up the energy to go outside and kick the soccer ball with him and sit on the front stoop so he could play outside. But I’m talking about those days where I cant find the encouragement to pick my own self up, those days where the list of things to do is longer than the time I have and the “whys?” and “mommy,” and “I’m hungrys!” all start to pile up and at that very moment when you want to explode and scream and run out on life you find the energy to take a deep breath and calmly say, “Mommy needs her space right now, so I need you to go play in your room.” its those moments where I can see how mothers brink on the edge of insanity; where there seems to be no break and everyone needs you!
In those moments I find myself questioning God Why? Why do I have to do this all by myself lord? Why do I not have someone to help me? be there for me? encourage me? hug me? kiss me? Someone to check on me at the end of the day? Again, I understand that the Lord has to be my everything I completely understand that, but there are times where I want to feel a touch from a man who God has called into my life. I need help to? I need love to? I feel as thought I give it all out but not a lot in return and it depletes me.
I know that I am not alone in my thoughts nor crazy in my emotions. in some way I feel as though I am living a normal parenting experience. But, I want to encourage others who may often times feel as though they are all alone in their emotions because they feel something other than happiness. That its ok to feel angry and overwhelmed and still call yourself a good parent. And its ok to know that you need a break that extends beyond your job. Our fun does not have to stop just because we are parents! We have to stop parenting out of GUILT and in some ways allowing our children to make us feel guilty. In order to stay fresh and alive we have to take a break from the routine and allow ourself the freedom to breathe. and think and plan or we will look up and still be in the same spot. I’m crazy enough to believe that I can maintain my goals and dreams while helping lil man discover his.
I want to let you know, if no one else does that you are doing a good job, and that its ok to take a break, to laugh, and to dream! It’s ok to let go and know that we do not have to do it all by ourselves! MOTHERS ROCK!!!!