I’m going to go ahead and rip the band-aid right off on this one. My deepest, darkest fear is that I’m a horrible mother. Not the “call DCF her kids are starving” kind of horrible but I could give a long list of reasons my brain tells me that support the fear. Most days I feel like I do just enough to keep my head above water. I don’t think I’m alone here and I don’t think it’s something that has anything to do with the Postpartum struggles I had. I’ve noticed that women, and moms especially, have an uncanny ability to rip themselves to shreds over things they wouldn’t think twice about someone else doing or not doing.
I don’t doubt that I love my children more than anything. I know I would take a bullet for them no questions asked and lift a car up off of them without even thinking. But ask me to build elaborate cities out of blocks for hours in the living room or take them to a local market to pick fresh veggies and design wonderfully creative toddler dinners and you’ll get some serious attitude. I had my son when I was 24 and my daughter at 29 and, although I wouldn’t change anything I do have to admit that I don’t find “mom things” (whatever those even are) to be fun or exciting. When I take my son to friends’ birthday parties I usually feel out-of-place and end up telling some kind of lie about how much I wish I could be a full-time stay at home mom before I inevitably find a corner to hide in for a while. I’m going to go ahead and say this: being a stay at home mom would be my own personal hell. I have so much respect for the women that do it and love it and can spend hours beating myself up about the fact that I have absolutely no desire to do it. I’m not kidding I’ve put a lot of time into questioning what part of my genetic makeup is flawed because I feel like there has to be something wrong with me for not wanting to be with my children all day every day.
Want to know the craziest part about all of this? I talk to women all the time who say the same thing and I tell them they’re being way too hard on themselves and that it’s perfectly healthy to want a life with pieces that don’t involve their children. I say that to women at work and drive home feeling excited and giddy about picking my two little ones up from daycare. Fast forward five minutes to both of them crying and screaming in the car and me, a 30-year-old woman, engaged in a heated argument about the fact that butterflies do not in fact survive off of human blood. (They really don’t I googled it just to prove a point. It didn’t matter my son didn’t give a crap because a 5-year-old from school is apparently an expert and has some hardcore life experience..)
One of my very best friends doesn’t have kids yet but has been one of the most amazing supports when it comes to helping shape how I feel about myself as a mother over the last few years. She is the polar opposite of me when it comes to planning ahead and organizing and all that stuff (by polar opposite I mean she does all of those things and I don’t). She doesn’t even have children yet and enjoys mom stuff more than I do. I constantly tell her about how I feel guilty and ashamed about the fact that my house is a complete disaster, laundry is rarely done, my children live off of chicken nuggets and pizza and the fact that I don’t enjoy talking to other moms at length about various parenting books or cutting edge sleep-training techniques. When I get spun out she looks at me very calmly and, without fail says something to the effect of “Your kids know they’re safe. They know you love them. You keep them happy and care about them being good people. That’s all that matters”. You know what? It’s absolutely true. My style of “mom-ing” may look different from a lot of others, but it’s authentic and honest and flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants funny.
Learning how to embrace my special way of raising my children is hard and I end more days feeling like I should have done better than the other way around, but I’m committed to cutting myself a little more slack. Yes, my self-doubt and anxiety leads me to feel like deep down I might be a horrible mother, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned on the crazy train that is motherhood it’s that those deepest darkest fears are almost always lies. I refuse to let this one hold me prisoner any longer and I am officially blowing the whistle on myself. There is a part of me that believes I may always struggle with this fear and that’s okay, because feelings aren’t facts and chicken nuggets and dirty laundry aren’t poison.