My Little Epiphany
One…Two…Three…Four…Five… commence the outburst, the tears, and the yelling “No count Mommy!!!”… Here you have two very determined and head-strong personalities clashing in a battle of wills: Mommy vs. The 3yr Old. And though Mommy wins the round, she always feels like she has lost the match.
Sigh… Parenting is so hard. It is ridiculously hard. It’s tough to be the Enforcer; the Dictator; the Mommy-Elect. There is a balance that you are always seeking, but never find. You want to guide your child down a morally-correct path, teaching him social graces, social skills, and the difference between right and wrong, all while remaining patient and gentle-yet-firm. And when you cannot do this because your own temperament is compromised, or your child is just un-relenting in his emotional outbursts, you shame yourself. You shame yourself for reacting, for feeling, for breaking down.
I tried to explain this to my husband last night. I told him that, when you work in a business and you are succeeding, you are often met with recognition such as a thank you, a monetary bonus, extra vacation days given, or a special award. Your work, your dedication to your tasks, and your success is recognized; and as a result you feel appreciated. But for a stay-at-home mom [parent] this is not something you are privy to. There are no monetary bonuses, special awards, or extra vacation days – heck, there isn’t even a day off! You work round-the-clock taking care of the house, the bills, the shopping, and [most-importantly] the child. Your reward for this is perhaps a hug from husband or smiles and giggles from your child, and don’t get me wrong, they are lovely gestures and greatly appreciated, but sometimes they’re just not enough.
In these past 20 months I have worked so hard to keep it all together. I’ve fought through breast cancer, cancer-related fatigue, physical limitations, and constant pain/discomfort (result from surgery), as well as the emotional and psychological trauma caused by a cancer diagnosis. And while working through all of this – travelling along this unwelcome journey thrust upon me – I am also raising my child, being a wife, taking care of the house, and working part-time. I rest when my son rests because I sleep poorly at night (thank you Tamoxifen-induced hot flashes, snoring husband, and over-active imagination that never seems to shut off or shut up!). I barely see friends or family because while everyone works during the daytime, I’m home with my son, only to leave for work in the evening when everyone gets home. I’m lost in my own thoughts too often, too deeply. I judge everything I do, and am my own worst critic because I am a perfectionist. All of this baggage I carry with me while I strive to be a positive example for my child, and try to appear “put-together” and as though “mommy-knows-best”.
But guess what??? Mommy does not always know best. Mommy often feels lost, alone, and defeated. Mommy often feels like a failure – I feel like a failure. I worry ALL. THE. TIME. that I am ruining my son. I watch him, and I see that he shares many quirks and similarities with me. For this I feel horrible. I feel horrible because they are the quirks that I am ashamed to possess. My compulsive nature is rubbing off onto my son. Was staying home to raise him really the best decision? Is being around me every day, all day, healthy for him? I’m emotional. I’m sensitive. I’m compulsive. I’m dramatic. I’m impatient. I’m stubborn. I’m anxious. And so is he. What have I done!?! I literally created a mini-me!! My poor, poor child… sigh… I am my own worst critic. I think mommies everywhere are their own worst critic. So much is expected from us – mainly expectations we place upon ourselves – that we cannot possibly feel like we are a success in parenting. We set ourselves up for failure.
One lesson battling cancer taught me was that life throws curve balls. It does. And you just have to do your very best in the situation thrust upon you. It is the same with parenting. You cannot possibly know what kind of behaviour/mood/emotion you are about to release when waking up your child each morning. It can be a good day, or it can be a terribly difficult one. You have to roll with the punches and do your best with what you are given, and always remember to be kind, not just to your child, but to yourself.
And there it is. My little epiphany. We are raising little people, with their own little [or sometimes enormous] personalities. What better way to teach them about being human than by allowing ourselves to be human? So, I think it’s okay to be human in front of your child. I do. It helps them to understand that you are a person that has feelings too. So I give myself permission to break down and cry in front of my son; I give myself permission to feel frustrated; and I give myself permission for forgiveness, not just of my son, but of myself. I may be a perfectionist, but I am far from perfect.
My Little Epiphany. Published by Crystal Joy Hall