It isn't easy for us Mama's to say out loud our failures in a true, raw and honest way. I'm not talking about cracking jokes about the things we fail at. I'm not talking about silly articles about mom fails that have all the moms in the mom club laughing.
Parenting isn't as easy as it seems when you're sitting preggo with your first baby at your baby shower surrounded by adorable gifts.
Motherhood is hard, but it's also beautiful, loving, exciting, and the most amazing thing.....ever.
I thought motherhood was hard sometimes when I had a loving and amazing husband to share this parenting journey with. I would be with the children all day and would be dreaming of the moment he would get home from work so that he could scoop up the kids and play with them in the yard so I could tackle some laundry, work out, go for a walk, or maybe just sit down for 20 minutes in silence with my thoughts. And then he would come home and he would have something else to do. A house project or fixing of one of our cars. And sometimes I felt like.....does anyone appreciate me? Does he appreciate me? Am I just here to care for the babies, do the laundry, clean the house, and cook dinner? We all feel that way sometimes.
But, what I didn't realize then was that I had it pretty good. I mean...I knew that. I adored my husband and loved our life more than words can say. I felt so lucky to have a guy that loved me as much as he did. I did know that our life was great and that we were so lucky to have each other. But, sometimes I felt like I wanted him to whisk me off on some fantastic date. I wanted to leave the dirty laundry and piles of toys and feel young and free again. And then? And then we would put the kiddos to bed early on a Friday night, grab a couple of cold IPA beers, and go sit on our back porch to chat on a hot summer night. On a night like that I had it all.
Because then he died. Because then one day out of the clear-blue-sky he up and walked out of our home, no warning, no knowledge of mental health issues...and took his own life.
Gone. No more summer nights on the porch. No last time to tell him I loved him. No last time to hug my best friend. The life sucked out of my soul. No last time to tell him I don't give a crap about his dirty socks on the bathroom floor or his pile of tools and trinkets he leaves by the coffee pot. I just want him on that porch with my head on his chest listening to his beating heart.
The first year after he died.........I failed. I failed over and over and over as a Mother in my mind. I was ravaged with grief, racked with guilt, fuming with anger, and my self-worth gone. There were mornings I could barely get my head off of my pillow at 6:00am when my 2 year old was screaming...."Mama! Pancakes! Mama!!!!"....because I had maybe, maybe gotten an hour of sleep the night before after I had hidden myself away in the bathroom to scream into a pillow, wail and throw up.
There were nights I put my children to bed without a bedtime story. I. Just. Couldn't. Do. It.
There were dinners that weren't all that.
There were days I felt like he must have felt....like maybe I'm not enough for them anymore.
There were moments where I was so raging mad at my husband for stealing from me the type of Mother I was before he died.
I let the feelings of failure creep into my every being.
But you know what? My kids didn't notice. I am dripping tears writing that. They didn't even notice. They were still joyful. Except for the days that they too were knee-deep in their grief, they were still happy. They didn't care if they got pancakes and eggs for breakfast or cold cereal. They didn't care if I read them books at 1:00pm because I just knew that at bedtime my head would be pounding with a migraine from all the crying. They didn't care if I wore my pajamas all day or if my hair was a mess. They didn't care if they ate PB & J for lunch every day for a week. If I took a moment to sneak into a corner of the kitchen because a memory hit me like a truck, one of them would always find me, hug my leg and say..."It's ok, Mama. I love you Mama. You're my best Mama in the word!"
You see? They just wanted me. Me. Their Mama. The only parent they had left. They just wanted me. They didn't care if my eyes were puffy and that I was surviving on coffee and crackers. They didn't care if their veggies weren't organic or their dinners weren't elaborate magazine worthy spreads.
Because through all of that tragedy. Even though my husband died and internally I felt I was a hot mess, I felt I was a failure, I felt I was falling apart.....even through that I was still a good Mama. Kids don't rate us the way that we rate ourselves. I was still here every single day and that's all that mattered to them. I still got out of bed every morning and carried on with our lives, carried on with our play dates, library trips, learning activities, arts and crafts, homeschool group and nature adventures. I still played with them, bathed them, cuddled them, fed them, and laughed with them. I battled it out from 6:00am until all of our heads hit the pillow in our family bed at 9:00pm.
To myself I was a failure.
To them? I'm a warrior. I'm their Mama. I'm their everything.
It has now been 16 months since my husband left this earth. I've got my Mama mojo back. I feel alive again and we are back to story's at bedtime, and healthy food and I sleep through the night. I have joy again. I love my life.....again. Do I still have grief? Yes. Grief never ends. Do I still cry? Yup. I cried writing this. But, those really tough times of completely, completely feeling like a failure in the early days of my grief? They are over. When it was happening it felt like an eternity. In reality the really, really dark days only lasted a couple months. And after that it is a day here and there that the darkness creeps back in. And now? I'm still human. I'm "just" a Mom. I make mistakes. I think I'm screwing something up daily. But, my kids are joyful, happy, loving, kind, creative, adventurous and smart little creatures and I must have something to do with that since they are with me 24/7.
Whether you are single by choice, a solo parent because someone left you or died, or you are in a happy marriage or relationship.......all your kids want is you. Happy. Grumpy. Tired. Bags under her eyes. Joyful. Laughing. Sad.......wonderful you. They just want you to be present. To be in the moment. To sit down on the floor and play with them, hug them, read them stories.......love them as only a Mama can.