Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Guilt? What Guilt?

I came across a post from a mommy blogger the other day. I loved it! Since becoming a mom almost three years ago, this is the first time I felt another woman was being a hundred percent honest about
Motherhood. It was refreshing.

For those of you who won't click on the post to read it, I will give you a brief overview. But seriously, if you don't read it in her words, you are really missing out. Anyway, the gist of the post is that a lot of people (mainly, women, whose children are grown and out of the house) will tell those women who have small children still at home in the throes of being raised, to hold on to and cherish EVERY moment. Glennon went on to say that parenting is hard. And since it's hard, it's hard to enjoy every second of it.

Seriously, just read the post yourself.

It is no secret (actually, there are very few secrets I have. I tend to be an open book) that for five or six years, my husband and I struggled with infertility. Those tests, medications and the waiting really got to me. I became bitter. I couldn't stand to see pregnant women. I wondered what I had done in my past that was so awful that God was punishing me. I dreamt of Motherhood before I dreamed about my wedding. I didn't understand why I couldn't get pregnant but women who were really girls and at that, addicted to drugs, could. Side note, if you are struggling with infertility or have lost a baby, I don't suggest working as a nurse in a NICU or OB unit. It doesn't help. Anyway, during that time, I dreamed of what Motherhood would be like and how my husband and I would parent. All I heard for all of that time we spent trying was, "Being a Mom is THE BEST thing that ever happened it to me", "I feel so complete now" and of course, this, "I love every second of it. Just wait! You will too".

Guess what? I didn't love every second of it. I still don't. But the guilt! I punished myself when I became frustrated when she wouldn't go to sleep because, I myself, was so tired. I consumed myself with guilt when I would daydream about running errands . . . ALONE! And I felt like a terrible human being, undeserving of having a baby when I just wanted a couple of hours to myself, no interruptions. 

I felt like I had failed. I felt like there was a reason we were unable to get pregnant and that reason was because I was not cut out to be a parent. Do you see where that sense of failure came from? No one ever whispered to me how hard it was. No one ever told me that time to yourself becomes a thing of the past. No one dared to say how you would wish for your old life. And NO ONE told me how you would cry in frustration because you just wanted the day to end. 

All the mothers I saw (or noticed) were put together, declaring that they "relish every moment because it goes by so fast". They had it all together and they would say how they "can't stand to be away from their child for a second!" Nope! Sorry! They couldn't recommend any sitters to me, because their children go everywhere with them

Ugh! Seriously?! What am I doing wrong?

The sleeplessness of the infant stage passed and then she didn't need to be nursed as much and things got a little easier. I relaxed a little. I wanted to freeze her in certain moments because I didn't want the moment to pass. But please know, I am emphasizing the word moments more than I am the word relishing. There were just as many moments that I couldn't wait to end.

About a year ago, we moved, there was a job change, a pregnancy and then another job change, Stay-At-Home-Mom. Pow! That's one for the resume.  

A lot more changes to adapt to. I found that working outside of the home gave me some time away from my child and therefore, enjoyed more moments with her. They were, for the most part, quality moments. That all changed when (due to a lot of discussion and what would be best when the twins arrived) to stay at home. My days, EVERY. ONE. OF. THEM. were consumed with home and child. There was no break. Just monotony. And when your husband is gone for days on end, the days just mesh into one another and there isn't even that break in the day, when your husband walks through the door and you are able to go to the restroom by yourself. 

So, naturally (for me anyway) the guilt came. "Why am I not enjoying every second of this?" "Most women would kill to stay at home with their children." "What is wrong with me?" "Why do I need a break from my own child?

And there was more guilt, from other areas that compounded it. I quit a job I had just recently started. Why was I letting my nursing education go to waste? Even though, my husband and I had decided that it would not be beneficial, financially or otherwise, for me to keep working and put three children under the age of three in daycare just so I could work. My other source of guilt was as my pregnancy with the twins progressed, I counted down the days until I wouldn't be pregnant anymore. With my first pregnancy, I loved every second of it. Seriously, I really did. I annoyed other pregnant women around me because I loved it so much. It wasn't that I had a perfect pregnancy. I didn't. There were aches and pains and sickness but I still loved it. My pregnancy with the twins was a difficult one. At the beginning, I had the normal pregnancy symptoms but by the time I was 8 weeks along, everything just started getting worse. I was in a lot of pain. I'm not really a complainer so the only one who was really aware of this was my husband. It was becoming difficult for me stand and do dishes and fold the laundry, let alone, work a 12 hour shift where I was always on my feet. That was just one of the factors that went into me quitting my new job. All of this made me feel awful that I was not enjoying the pregnancy like I had with my first. Again, what was wrong with me? I knew just how fortunate we were to have gotten pregnant completely on our own, so why was I not enjoying it? 

Here I am, ten months later and everything as I once knew it has changed. My world, my life, my sense of time, everything. Everything, that is, except the guilt. I am a Stay-at-Home-Mom and I have days where all I want to do is scream. I have days where all I want to do is to run and hide. I have days where I count down the hours until bed time. 

I must add that I am grieving and I know many of these emotions are due to the grief.

This makes me feel awful. This brings on a whole new category of guilt that I never knew existed. How can I count down moments to when I get to put her in bed and have a few moments to myself, without her, when there are two little girls I will never have moments with again? How? How could I be so blind and rude and selfish to want to have moments without my living daughter? It hurts me when I need or want time without her but it is an honest feeling.

I hear things like this a lot: "Well, at least you have one, some people don't even have that." "You think you would be ever so grateful just to have her." "Aren't you thankful for what you do have?" 

I know these people mean well but I really want to slap them! I have yet to hear something like this from one who has buried a child. I am very grateful for what I do have. But as everyone knows, there are always two sides to every coin. Just as I am thankful and grateful for my husband and living daughter, I grieve and am sadden by the loss of Emmerson and Vivienne. 

And could someone please explain to me why people who have never suffered the loss of one of their children, treat other's children like an insurance policy? Since when, when you lose one, does your living child replace the one that was lost? Isn't everyone unique with their own souls? I sometimes want to look at those who say things like that to me and ask them, "Well then, let's put your theory into practice, shall we? Give me one of your children. After all, you still have another one."

Yes, I know, sometimes I think cruel thoughts but I also desire to make a point to these well intentioned but ignorant people.

I'm going to hop back on the topic of guilt. I have felt a lot of guilt since I lost Emmerson and Vivienne. Enough guilt to last me the rest of my life. I have guilt over losing them and I have guilt concerning my living daughter. When people say those well meaning things to me, they don't help. They make me feel worse. Like I said, I am fully aware of what I have. I don't need someone to point that out. I'm mourning. Not stupid. And I truly believe, you don't know how much you stand to lose until you stand in the middle of what was lost. 

When people say well intentioned but hurtful things like that to me, I have to resist the urge to punch them (even though it would make me feel great) and put it into perspective. They have never stood before a freshly dug grave and said goodbye to one of their children. They are ignorant in the ways of grieving. They have no idea what its like and for their sake, I hope they never do. 

I thought for the longest time after my loss, that I should make my whole world about my living daughter. I couldn't. I still can't. Mainly because all of me doesn't reside in her alone. I love many and so there are many pieces of me with those loved ones. I felt guilty when I didn't cherish every second with her.

I don't anymore. I allowed myself awhile ago to release all of that. I have allowed myself to feel the magnitude of gratefulness when it comes, to allow His mercy to wash over me when it doesn't and by His grace, I am learning how to be grateful in everything. 

That last one is tough. How can you be grateful when your child is screaming in a store and you just want to beat them? (By the way, I don't beat my child.) My coping mechanism in public, when my daughter is throwing a fit, is to cast a glance in her direction, like everyone else, give a disapproving look, make that "tsk, tsk" sound and ask, "Where is that child's mother?"

In all honesty though, why are women, especially other mothers, so mean to each other? By mean, I mean, not being honest with one another? Why do we lie and act like our children never act up? Why do we act like we have it all together when we see another mother struggling? Why is it when a child is acting up in public that it is always another mom who shakes her head with disgust?

Maybe she's the one mom who got lucky and her children actually are angels.

I really don't think Motherhood would have so much guilt and shame attached to it if we were just honest with one another and extended grace to the other.

After reading Glennon's post, I'm going to feel the full weight of those, I-could-keep-you-like-this-forever-moments and take in a deep breath in the midst of ear piercing screaming, let it out slowly, before I tell my daughter for the fifth time that morning, that M&M's are not cereal, and rest in the knowledge that this too, shall pass. 


1 comment:

  1. loved your post in response to glennon's post. and i'm so glad you put the link to glennon's post! i'm going to follow her, also!

    there are times that i, too, feel like "isn't it bedtime yet?!?!" and then there are times when i wish it could just last forever.



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