There isn’t enough of me to go around.
I just came to this realization today and it was equal parts comforting and depressing. I am only one person and they are three. Not only do they need all the love and attention and care that a mom can offer, they deserve that — and so much more.
But it’s just me — and I only have two ears and oh-so-often, when they run in the door from their dad's and haven’t seen me in a few days, they all start to chatter excitedly about all that I have missed while they were busy living life at dad’s house. They tell all the stories. They can’t wait for me to listen and respond and laugh or comfort or give advice. But I only have two ears and they have three stories—three stories to be listened to simultaneously. Three days of life to catch me up on. No one wants to wait their turn. No one wants to be told, its not your turn yet, just wait. But they are told just that over and over. And so they try to wait. But they can’t. They interrupt. They lose patience. They raise their voices so I can hear them loudest and hear them first, They get frustrated. They want more of me than I have to offer. And I so badly want to give them more than I have.
I only have two hands. But they need more. They need more hugs and hand-holding and game-playing than my two hands can give. And so, they hear the words not yet, not right now, as soon as I am done with xyz, and sometimes simply not today, dear. They deserve six hands, but they oh-so-gracefully make do with two.
I only have one salary for the four of us. They need more. They need school clothes and soccer cleats and sturdy backpacks. They need the money for the coach’s gift and the class party and the end of the season banquet. They deserve to not worry about money. To not know when there is enough and when there isn’t. They are too young to hear the words, I don’t have the money right now or I am worried about money for the next few weeks, but they hear those words often. Because it is just me. And while I know they aren’t my spouse or my friend or my partner-in-responsibility, sometimes, I treat them as if they are. Because they are all I got and I feel like we are in this together and I forget that they are just kids. Even though I know better, sometimes, I burden them with my adult problems. And they deserve so much better.
There isn’t enough of me for them. And there never will be. And while this little epiphany breaks my heart for them- because they each deserve all of me and only the best of me all of the time, it also feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Because every day for as long as I can remember, I go to sleep feeling like a failure. Because I didn’t give them all of me. Because Emmet never got to tell me that story or I dismissed Nora three times while making dinner or because Molly, yet again, stepped in as pseudo-parent to help out when I could not. I beat myself up over and over again. I replay the scenes and decide I could have done more- I could have given more of me. I should have. I promise myself next time I will- I will give them each all of me all of the time.
And now I know — I won't do that next time. I won't do that anytime. I will never be able to give all of me to all three kids all of the time. And now, I kind of feel less-heavy. Like a less of failure. Like what I give is everything I freaking have at every single moment and that has to be enough. Because if it isn’t, I just might self-destruct. And while every mom wants to give their children the world, there is so much beauty and growth in the struggle. My kids are learning what it means to sacrifice, to be part of a unit, to step in and contribute in the ways that they are able to. They are learning independence and resilience and all the little nooks and crannies of love because love isn’t perfect and shiny and without error. Love is good times and bad times and stressful times and it is I am sorry and I will do better next time and I hear you. Love is unconditional and it is patient and it is kind and maybe — just maybe that is all I have to strive to be as a mom:love; consistently, unconditional love.
I am not enough for them. I never will be. But love is enough for them. And that—I can deliver every moment of every day.