Musings on Motherhood:
I have a secret. I’m not perfect. And I was okay with that until I became a mother, then I was wracked with anxiety. My self-confidence and self-esteem plummeted to lows that I hadn’t experienced since I was first diagnosed with depression. My infant Dew’s cries would make me run screaming from the room with confusion. Besides loving her, I had to care for her and guide her into becoming a well-adjusted adult.
Actually, no goal was bigger. I wanted to make sure she turned out to be a sympathetic, loving, well-read, self-loving, healthy, free-thinking, open-minded, well-spoken, woman who would never be bullied, abused, impolite, molested, raped, or killed. ACK! How was I supposed to that along with making the everyday decisions? There was no handbook.
With my anti-depressant dosages a little higher and a firmer grasp on taking parenting one day at a time, I had another baby, Jo-Jo. Things were manageable until she started talking and walking. My patience and energy was cut in half. (More like in quarters because I also have responsibilities to my husband and my job.) It seemed that these squeaky-voiced little ones were climbing all over me demanding that all their emotional, entertainment, and physical needs be met by me all of the time!
Add the resurfacing of my previous anxieties and I was at wit’s end. I was constantly hollering at my daughters. I’d shout, “leave me alone!” and lock myself in my bedroom to have a moment alone. I’d be sitting on the floor crying while they begged me to come out in voices choked by tears. I wasn’t crying because I thought they were horrible children. I was crying because I thought I was a horrible mother. By Thanksgiving 2009, depression and insecurity had swallowed me whole.
When I started therapy after Christmas, I begged the therapist to help me. On the first visit, I looked her in the eyes and said “I don’t want my daughters to have to come to therapy when they’re adults for something I did while raising them. Tell me how to do that.”
Apparently, I was so angry with myself for not being the mother that I wanted to be that I redirected it toward my daughters. If they misbehaved in a way that I felt reflected badly on my mothering, I’d yell at them but I would be thinking “they wouldn’t be doing XYZ if I were raising them better and was a good mom.”
Slowly, things have been getting better. For the past five months, my therapist has been advising me on how to recalibrate my scale of being a “good mother.” I’ve also developed a few coping mechanisms and discipline techniques to improve my parenting skills. I regularly read blogs like Free Range Kids to help me alleviate the “world is an evil place” anxieties. Books, like ScreamFree Parenting: Raising Your Kids By Keeping Your Cool and Parenting with Love and Logic, have also been helpful in reducing my desire for perfection.
But mainly, I’ve learned to forgive myself if I make a misstep in becoming a calmer and a good-enough mother. As my therapist says, perfection doesn’t exist. “We’re trying to achieve progress, not perfection.” So to all those mothers out there, who feel like they’re failing, take a breath. You’re doing just fine.
By Rakisha White, a loving mom, a wife, librarian, and a work in progress. Check out her thought provoking wht hosted blog, brooklynshoebabe.
image: Anne Taintor
Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, a link that gives us a small commission if you purchase the item. For more info, or any questions, please see our disclosure policy.