Motherhood has been an amazing shift within me. It’s really the most awesome- in the truest sense of the word- experience I have ever had. It has the ability to simultaneously tap into my deepest insecurities and give birth to my wildest spikes in confidence.
I have days- even weeks- that I am consumed by doubt and worry. I lament every decision I make, for what if that decision creates the ripple effect that lands my son in therapy at 25? My brain can be ridiculous from time to time. In contrast to the time I get lost in the forest of uncertainty, are the days that I see myself with a confidence I have never possessed. It is usually a moment of living wildly in the moment with my little monster. I am throwing him in the air, eliciting the most joyful of laughs. Or when he wants nothing more than to crawl into the safety of my lap, wrapped in my arms. In those moments, I know that I am killing it. I am a damn good mother. I am exactly the parent that this willful, smart, stubborn, sensitive little boy needs. I understand him. And that is priceless
I am writing this on my phone, curled up on my bed with snacks piled between my little guy and me. A sleepy Sunday evening- one I never would have expected to cherish so very much. My love for him- my love for motherhood- surprised me in the most wonderful way. But more than that, I don’t think I understood the depths of selflessness before being granted this turd.
I saw this meme as I was scrolling through Instagram absentmindedly. I must admit, I saw it several times. Each time it scrolled past my view, it touched my heart. I’m not sure what exactly changed the last time. Maybe it was my son’s proximity or worry inducing news I had received a couple days prior. Or perhaps, it was just the right moment to pierce a chink in my armor.
The words on my screen pulled me back in time. I had awoken in a freezing recovery room in the most intense pain I had ever experienced. Several women hovered over me, assuring me that the pain medication would kick in soon. Apologizing for the experiences to come that would be less than pleasant. In the midst of what felt like chaos- I remember turning to my ex-husband and asking “Is he okay?”. I couldn’t see my son. I couldn’t move. Fear seized me more than the pain. Despite my own condition, all I could concentrate on was his well-being. I didn’t realize how pervasive that would be for the years to come. I think now, almost three years into his little life, I am only beginning to get a grip on it.
That last two years have been a case study in putting his needs before mine. This dual house business is no joke. Full transparency- if I only took my needs and wants into account- I wouldn’t forfeit time or energy to co-parent. I would snuggle this face every second of every day. He would be all mine. Because inherently, I am selfish with him. Time is so fleeting and in the grand scheme, I will never have enough- enough memories, enough snuggles, enough laughter, enough of his hand in mine. But it isn’t about me. Not even a little bit. It’s about him and his emotional health. His well-being.
If I could embrace my inner narcissist, I would probably drop the ball a little more on the hard stuff too. The discipline. The potty training. Oh god, the potty training. Saying “no”. Because the reality is, none of that is any fun. It really blows. But I push what I want aside- I do what is best for him.
When it comes to co-parenting, putting him first hurts. I have nights that I want to sleep in the rocking chair in his room- to feel a little closer to him when he’s gone. I worry. I worry about how to mitigate the emotional toll his father’s decisions may take on him. I research how to foster emotional health- a healthy self image. Confidence. Respect. How to discipline in a positive way. How long he should continue to sleep in his crib. I research so many things.
When it comes down to it, even though I say that it can all be hard, there is no hesitation. I will lay my life on the line for his. I will tear my heart to shreds to ensure that his remains whole and healthy. I will hurt myself to secure his laughter. And that’s motherhood. That’s parenthood.
The beautiful flip side, is the reward after the struggle. I endure the tantrums. I throw him over my shoulder and carry him to the potty. I stand in the next room and cry while he learns he doesn’t always have a choice. That his will doesn’t trump mine. I sleep train. I do the hard stuff. In return, I get to share in the delight when he meets the milestone. When he goes potty all by himself, accomplishes a new motor skill, or I get to watch his little brain process a new concept on his own without me having to remind him.
The hard stuff begets the purest glee.
I have been on a journey of self discovery. Forgiveness. Growth. I will continue that path. Simultaneously, I will never waver in putting my son’s needs before mine. I’ll continue to honor nap time even if it means we miss out on some fun stuff. I won’t oscillate in discipline or saying “no” when necessary. I’ll miss him desperately when he’s gone, knowing that he needs that time. Because one day, I will get to see the man he’s growing into- and my heart will grow three sizes.
If you’re in the hard part- you’re not alone. I promise, it may look and feel like complete isolation- the shadows have a way of concealing everything in their wake- but it’s an illusion. I’m here too. One day- maybe when you least expect it- the bliss will come- even if just for a moment and the hard stuff will be worth it. Until then- honestly I have no idea. I wish I had some beautiful words of wisdom. Instead, I feel alone sometimes. Tired and resentful at times. Completely lost others. And oftentimes when I feel that way, I find myself scrolling through the ever expanding catalog of photos and videos of Moose. So maybe that’s it, even when the shit seems like it’s up to your elbows, remind yourself why you do it. The little faces you created that forever changed your job title. I promise there is delight even in the struggles.