I’ve written and erased this post so many times. At first I wanted to be witty and snarky about motherhood, to make my readers laugh. But it felt irreverent and I erased it. Then I wanted to talk about the reality and hardship of motherhood, to let my readers know that the lack-of-rainbows feeling is normal. But it felt all negative and gloom-and-doom so I erased it. And then I realized the problem. I was talking in generalities about motherhood instead of talking about my experience.
Motherhood is such an emotionally charged subject for me. As my foray into motherhood was interrupted by the relinquishment of my firstborn, I am prone to feeling overly guilty any time I need a moment to myself in the craziness of parenting two awesome boys. I often push myself harder and harder, way past my personal breaking point(s), because I feel that I should never take a moment I have with any of my children for granted. I am aware, on some level, that this is not the healthiest way to approach motherhood, that I should cut myself some slack and allow room for error. But it is a cycle I cannot seem to break.
Every time I raise my voice at my two year old for, you know, throwing toys or poking his younger brother in the forehead, I know that my neighbors will hear and that they will call Child Protective Services and that when they arrive they will automatically know that I am a birth mother, for it is a Scarlet Letter I wear upon my forehead, and they will take my children from me. No. Seriously. I live with this fear on a daily basis. And no, I don’t do anything to endanger my children to make that a legitimate possibility. In fact, possibly due to the relinquishment of my daughter, I am more prone to be that over-protective Helicopter Mom you see at the playground that follows her child from toy to toy, repeating over and over, “Be careful! Go slow!” I know that my fear is not based in logic, it is based in fear. But no one ever said that parenting was full of logic.
The reality of my motherhood is that I spend far too much time being afraid. What if BigBrother is walking down the steps on his own, as he needs to learn to do that, and he trips and falls and I can’t catch him? And at the hospital they think that I pushed him? And they take him away? Or what if LittleBrother rolls over onto his tummy while sleeping and suffocates and they think that I did it? Or what if this? And what if that? I play the what-if game every single day of my life. It is not a fun way to live.
And yes, I do work on these thing with my (awesome) therapist. There are days when I wake up and tell myself, “You will get through this day and you will be okay just like every other mother on the planet. There is no need to worry.” And then? I worry. My anxiety kicks in and the panic rides in on its Big Black Horse of Doom and I just try to make it through the day without hiding under the covers and pretending we’re building a “fort.”
The good thing in all of this is that I am not alone. Other first mothers have spoken up about their similar fears as they parent their children. They have survived and, in that, I know that there is hope for me. I know, on that core level, that I am an amazing parent. I know that my children are thriving under my care. I know that they love me with all of their beings just as I love them with every inch of my soul. I know that I am providing them with a safe, happy environment despite my fears. And I do, honestly, feel the success in that. Sometimes I even pat myself on the back and buy myself something nice. But it is a constant battle brought about by self-doubt and fear.
So, no. The truth is that my version of motherhood isn’t a bucket of rainbows. It’s hard at times. But all it takes is a big, snotty kiss from BigBrother, a smile from LittleBrother… or a phone call from the Munchkin… and, if only for a moment, those fears melt away and my world is at peace. Rainbows even pop out for a second or two, giving me reason to continue on this journey of motherhood.