Yesterday I celebrated my eleven year Momiversary. In more recent years I have thought why do the kids get all the celebration on the day of their birth, after all it is the same day a Woman is born into Motherhood. And what a feat that is. The Queen of the family takes her throne and throughout her rein gets the heavy jewelled crown donkey kicked off her head many times. Sometimes she is defeated, but always gets up, holds her head high and her family close.
Mothering, for me, has a whole different meaning and perspective before having children and after having children.
I worked as an Early Childhood Educator for about 11 years before I had children. I was given the beautiful, trusting privilege to learn, inspire, help, facilitate learning, and play with so many 3-6 year olds, as well as support and advise parents on occasion, with parenting issues, children's behaviour issues, toilet learning, etc. And I gave it with confidence, I gave it freely, I felt great that in some small way I was helping families navigate through their journey. After all I had studied it in school, attended yearly workshops, read every early years book I could get my hands on. I was the perfect parent, before I had children, it was so easy to say what I would and wouldn't do when I had children of my own, or even better, what my children would and wouldn't be and behave like. Talk about a huge wake up call. My goodness my socks could not have been knocked off farther.
The first time I realized this was shortly after my son was born. We were in the second month of his life, he was a nursing machine, and I was in the throws of major exhaustion, yet completely overwhelmed with LOVE. I remember a late night feeding, leaning back into the nursing chair, half asleep myself, and tears coming down my cheeks, and thinking who the heck did I think I was to even work as an ECE and claim all this expertise on Early Years and Parenting when clearly I know NOTHING….cry, cry, cry. I remember silently apologizing to certain parents I may have judged (in my head), especially to one particular single mother, with 2 very spirited little boys, that I would wonder sometimes why she never could get her boys ears cleaned…years later realization…because she was TIRED, because she had to do EVERYTHING at her house, because some children are EARWAX MAKING MACHINES! Actually all the single parents I worked with over those years popped into my head with more frequency when I was a 5-6 day a week single parent for the first 2 years of my daughters life and for my sons toddler/preschool years, my husband worked and lived out of town for those 2 years, I was alone. I remember always having empathy, for those families and would never want that for myself, but, sometimes its just not a planned thing and everyone is doing the best they can with what they've got. Even if you think they should do better or at least want to do better, know this, they are simply doing their best.
“ One of the best thing for anyone to do for another parent is to feel empathy, send love and support, and wish them well. A simple, effective, silent wish skyrocketed to the Universe.”
I felt like I was living part of my dream when the kids were babies, toddlers and even preschoolers years. I rocked the early years (for the most part) The baby years were my years, I loved labour and delivery, Loved nursing (once I got the hang of it), loved the slower pace of the day, loved the milestones, loved the cute cuddles and smelling the tops of there heads and kissing their chubby feet. I was constantly amazed that I got to be a mom and these two are mine…just like that mine, I made them…I feed them from…my body….mind was blown daily because of these facts.
Once my children got older, things changed a little for me.
For one thing I realized they are not mine, as in mine to own. We are all our own person, free to be, free to think our thoughts. These beautiful children that are brought into out lives are here for us to guide, support, love and learn from and visversa. We are each others soul keepers, life encouragers and lesson learners. Not possessions.
The affects of two years as a single parent (not saying this was the cause, more like it was the magnifying glass) wore thin, separation anxiety from their dad being away, reared its ugly head. My sons, behaviours were getting harder to handle, and since he’s been 4ish…my parenting spirit has slowly broken down.
Parenting for me teeters on pure enjoyment and wonderment and overwhelming love to utter devastation, feeling like a parenting failure and desire to live on a private island by myself with conjugal visits from my husband, oh, and a personal assistant to make me food, clean up after me and give me pedicures.
As a little guy some behaviours were in public, but most were in the privacy and safety of our home. He has very high expectations, for events, for himself, for us, for friends, but generally doesn’t voice them until after a complete melt down. He is extremely sensitive to how other people are feeling, he can read a person or the people in a room, in a heartbeat…and his mood will reflect it. At school he appears, calm, cool, collected, never showing how he is feeling, keeps it together the whole day…plays the role of a student, of a friend. But one little thing someone said or did, or didn't do at school can easily snowball into an evening of hell for us, and him.
It has been a good six years (he’s now 11) of learning how to parent this sensitive, beautiful, funny, active, intuitive, moody, creative, smart child, and I suspect this learning will constantly evolve. My son has recently been diagnosed as ADHD with Inattention, Learning Disability and Anxiety. So yeah…this makes sense. A big discovery for me…choke…is that I am very similar to my son, but I developed some coping strategies at a young age (because no one talked about it and/or recognized anything was wrong) and am still learning about myself, ALL. THE. TIME. I am tired. I am excited. I am happy. I am truly blessed. I am thankful. Thankful that my son has someone like me (and my husband) to accept and love him no matter what, learn with him and guide him, relish in his strengths and hold him up through his weaknesses. Thankful he has my heart and I have his.
I know its getting more socially acceptable to talk about Mental Health but it is very hard to do. There are so many initiatives out there to get rid of the stigma of mental health…yet,still very hard to write about, talk about when you are the one dealing with it so personally, its a window into your cracked life. When you don’t want to single out your child who is learning to live and thrive with it. When it is yourself, some days, just barely squeaking by. But it has to be talked about. If you and your family are dealing with this in silence I want you to know you are not alone. I slick on the lipstick, do my hair, dress for the day, look like I’m put together and most days this is the case but sometimes, I am undone, and completely broken on the inside and you would never know. And that is how I deal.
Parenting is not for the faint of heart and most likely nothing like how you expected it to be. It is so many things. Some days are sooooo long, tedious, heartbreaking, exhausting, frustrating, boring, not boring enough…to absolute and utterly joyous, heart-warming, heart- melting, heart-stopping happiness and Love, those days go by too fast. And for it not the two extremes (in my case) , a divine paradox to blatantly appreciate every, darn thing.
So yes, on this Eleventh Momiversay of mine, I am going to celebrate with a Pint down at our local Pub, with my King and a couple of friends. Perch myself upon the throne (bar stool), affix my crooked, tarnished crown, and toast to my rein as completely flawed Mom to my kids.
Updated "Anniversary of Motherhood"