Hello child. I’m your mom. I love you with all my heart, but there’s only so much I can change.
I am standing here in the spotlight. I am center stage for all eyes directed at me. At every move, at every decision, and at everything I say, I am the center piece for all to scrutinize. The most tolerable are the judgments that are shared directly. Then, there are the opinions hidden between seemingly sweet and innocuous lines of normal conversation, and the ones cloaked in good intentions. The worst are the ones that you hear about after the fact, the ones that were discussed by your loved ones behind your back. Those are the words that hurt the most.
Our parents make comments. Other parents make comments. Schools make comments. Hell, even strangers make comments. There is no end to the constant critique of who I am, your mother.
Too much of this, too little of that. Not enough saccharine in my tone when I’m reminding you for the 100th time not to interrupt (because I haven’t been able to complete a sentence for years). Heaven forbid I lose my temper in front of any of these onlookers. “Wow, she really yells a lot.” “Did you see how mad she got?” “They’re just kids.” They will never see the sheer number of times that I held it together while you dished it out.
And when I’ve finally put you to bed for the night, I head to the internet to be judged some more. I can stay up for hours reading “how-to” lists on how to be a better mom. Look at all those moms who really have it together. Who have so much more energy, who get so much more done. How to be more patient. How to head off tantrums. How to this, how to that.
When I am done taking the abuse from the world all around me, I am left alone with the most critical person of all. No one will be harsher on me than I am. I am constantly trying to be a better person for you. I make commitments to be patient no matter what you throw my way. To be calm and use simple punishments. I have taken so much advice and although you’ll never know, I have already changed so much.
I have turned myself completely inside out. I live for you and your brother. I spend all day thinking of you. I do my best to meet all of your needs for love and attention and stimulation. I live in service of your nourishment, growth, and development.
I am fighting a daily battle. I must overcome all of my own wounds and scars, many that I didn’t even know were there until you were born. How could I have been so optimistic for motherhood when my own examples were far from ideal? Every day I must fight down the unhealthy high expectations and constant critique that were the predominant theme of my tender years. I mourn my loss of innocence as I diligently try to protect your own. Sometimes that means protecting you from me.
But there is only so much I can change. I am who I am. I will always be blunt and direct, and expect you to obey a direct request. I am willing to negotiate, but my final answer is my final answer. I will always be intolerant of messes. I will laugh at your jokes, but I tend to be serious. I am feminine and strong, but there’ll be times when I’m sad. I love to hold you close, but also need my own space, my own room to think and to breathe.
I hope you will see all of me. The good and the bad, my joys and my pain, and understand me one day. Just like I understand you. I was the first person to hear your words, and the first person you let go of to walk on your own. I accept your quirks and your sense of humor. I take the tantrums in stride, even when they are directed at me. I’ve been hurt when you lashed out because life doesn’t go according to your plans. I have loved you through it because I know that you are who you are.
Sane Mama is short for “Barely Sane” Mama, “Wish I Were Saner” Mama, and “I’m Running Away Until I Find Sanity” Mama. Follow her as she attempts to fight the impending chaos of parenting, stepparrenting, wifing, working and otherwise juggling at TheSanityPlan.com, @TheSanityPlan on Twitter, and @TheSanityPlan on Facebook.