Mother’s Day, One Week Later

Just thinking…….

Mother’s Day was a week ago today, and I’m just now getting up the nerve to write about it. My mind fashioned all these words and phrases that I was going to say, and then it fell flat and I chickened out. Mother’s Day is tough for me to write about.

It’s not that I had a bad mom. Far far from that. Mom was a caring down to earth parent who sacrificed mightily for us. I’ll never be able to thank her enough for how she raised me. She is still alive, but going blind and has several health problems. But I’m blessed to still have a mom at my age.

And it’s not that I had a bad mom-in-law. I loved my mom-in-law like my own mom, and never doubted her love and care for me. She gave me the precious gift of my husband, and I am forever grateful that she mothered him as she did.

No, none of that. The mom that scares me is….. me. I look at my mom and my mother-in-law, and think, “I’ll never measure up to them.” Sometimes I think I’m in the running for the worst mother of the year.

Is this common for us moms? Do we doubt outselves, compare ourselves, chastise ourselves for our puny incompetent mothering? Am I alone in this?

I didn’t give birth; I adopted. Right there I felt second rate. All around me were girls and women having baby after baby, and I just cried every month. I couldn’t go to to baby showers for friends because I’d cry. Roe v. Wade made me furious, in part, because I would have loved the chance to carry a baby and couldn’t. Well meaning folks would jokingly ask when we planned to start a family. I would just stare at them and then turn and walk off, crying.

When we received the call that a baby boy was waiting for us to pick up, I got all stuttery. The agency had told us that it would be 5 years at the least before any babies would be available. So we didn’t put a nursery together or accumulate any baby things. I didn’t want to look at those cute little things for 5 years and feel the emptiness. So when the call came after just a year of waiting, we had 4 hours to put it all together and pick up the baby. As we drove to the agency, the Hubs kept hyperventilating, and I kept thinking, “Can I do this? Can I do this? Will I be a good mom?”

When the agency worker put the fat little baby into my arms, the child looked up at me and started to cry. I put him into the Hub’s arms, and the baby cooed and fell asleep. I had just failed my first mommy test.

I was a stay at home mom for the first couple of years. The budget was really tight and I missed the teaching job that I had. My mom had stayed home and raised all of us. Was I bad mom for wanting to teach again? I enjoyed our sweet baby, and we had fun together during those years.

But when a chance came for a job where I could take my 2 year old along, I jumped at it. It was a good deal. My child had playmates at the child care center, and I was just down the the hall. Really, I couldn’t have asked for a better situation.

When he was in first grade, I went back to full time teaching. My child and I had the same hours, the same vacations. We were not in the same building, but he was in the same building as the Hubs. I thought, again, that we had a good situation. But teachers keep strange hours. I would come home with hours of papers to grade. So I was at home with our child, but still…………. Mommy guilt again.

Our child was active, not hyperactive, but active. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body, but his impulsiveness would get him into trouble. It wasn’t bad stuff, but things like trying to jump through a fork in a tree…… and miscalculating. He ended up in the emergency room more than once from all those little stunts. Was I a bad mom because he ran full force at life and got hurt? He had a bone tumor that stunted growth of one leg slightly. When he complained of pain, I thought he was just trying to get out of cleaning his room. More guilt….. (extended surgery was successful, by the way, and he was a star track runner in high school, whew….)

Then there were the learning disabilities. I was a teacher, for crying out loud, and I didn’t even see the disabilities. How could I have missed this? Those years of his struggles in school: could it have been better if I had just seen the disability earlier? badmombadmom……

He’s made good choices and bad choices in life. While I take little credit for the good, I shoulder the blame for the bad. Don’t we all make bad choices? Yes, but I should have…..

So for Mother’s Day, I presented my self with a big box of blame and guilt and worries. I wrapped it all with droopy black ribbon and told myself that it was all I deserved. I was a flop of a mother. I had ruined his life. Then he came and hugged me, and gave me bags of wild mushrooms that he had picked and cleaned. And he breaded and fried them, and I feasted on this gift. I looked at his three little children and feasted on that gift.

Yeah, I was a bad mom, no doubt about it. I am tops at looking back and pointing out every mistake that I ever made. Worst mother of the year award? I am standing up and moving forward to receive it. And that’s why it is difficult for me to write about Mother’s Day. I just can’t seem to forgive myself for not being perfect. I have a hard time believing that I really did try to do my best, even when I failed.

Father, I thank You that I didn’t have to be perfect to come to You. Help me accept myself as You accept me. Help to grow in faith and love. Help me to be a better mother and to know that it’s OK to do my best. Amen

To God be the glory……

PS: I wrote this in 2009, but just now getting up the nerve to publish……

Published in: on February 20, 2011 at 2:18 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. I didn’t know we had so much in common! I didn’t know you had adopted; we adopted our daughter, too. And I went through all that infertility disappointment & tears for years before that. I remember those feelings all too well!

    I was a stay-at-home mom for her first couple of years too, working just a few hours a week from home. I went back to school when she was 3. I knew I needed some external structure to help me with my depression. I also wanted to see if I liked studying math enough to get my Ph.D., and if I liked teaching enough to become a professor. At the time I worried about putting Emma in preschool & daycare so young, but now I’m so glad I did it.

    Of course, I continue to fail as a mother, every single day, as all mothers do. Thankfully, God forgives us and manages to work all things for our good, even when we sin and fail and struggle. 🙂

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