Sunday, February 21, 2010

Need to stop worrying...

So these last two weeks have been kind of strange for me. First I came across that blog that I told you about here and how inspired I was by her to slow down, stop looking at my kids like a series of starts and stops and chores and tasks that need to be completed from when they wake up till when they go to bed. But instead to actually enjoy them being kids and babies and get messy with them instead of preventing messes all the time. And to forgive them more. And to forget their rudeness or their whining or their lack of respect more. And love them better (not more cause I don't think I could love them more, but just better).

Then I read this book called the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. This book explores the volatile relationship between a Mother and Daughter. A Mother who has regret and guilt over her mistakes parenting, and a Daughter learning to forgive and forget the bad and focus on the positive. I was struck by a passage in this book where the mother was so overwhelmed. She had been smelling nothing but baby formula, baby poop, baby puke, etc for so long. She had not had a good nights sleep in so long. She had been dealing with tantrums and attitudes, and crying and whining for so long that Motherhood had ceased to be fun for her. Sure there were moments of joy, but for the most part the bad was outweighing the good. She talked brutally honestly about sometimes wondering what her life would be like if she had no kids. About how some days she just didn't want to go home. She just wanted to run. Not forever, but just for a little while. I just remember reading this (while on the stairmaster at the gym) and feeling like I knew what this woman felt. Have any of us really ever NOT felt this way at one point or another? But we don't talk about these feelings for fear that we will be judged. For fear people will look at us like "OMG! How can you feel that way!" Or for fear that people will think we don't love our kids.

But when did becoming a mother mean that you cease to exist? There are days I just wish I could go to the gym without worrying that my kids are going to pick up something terrible in the daycare. Or throw a fit, or have a potty accident. To go get a manicure or a pedicure whenever I get the urge. To spend an entire day lounging in chairs at Barnes and Noble perusing the latest cook book or magazine? To be able to pick up at a moments notice and jump in the car and head somewhere without worry about sippy cups, snacks, movies, portable DVD players, pack n plays. etc. To be able to hop on a plane to go for a visit back to Boston without having to buy 3 tickets to do so. Just to be able to take a shower or go pee without a kid following me into the bathroom cause they love to play in the sink or under the cabinets or splash at my feet while I try to shower. If I had it to do over again I wish I did more before I had the kids. I wish I had more date nights instead of nights in front of the TV. I wish I had done more traveling instead of worrying about money and saving more. I wish I was a little more prepared. I read every pregnancy book out there and every baby book imaginable and no one talked honestly about the downside of having kids. Or the regret that can sometimes creep into your thoughts in places you don't like to talk about. And the guilt and despair that you can then feel for even having these thoughts when some people cant have children at all, and others have children that are fighting horrible diseases or have lost their lives too young... Don't get me wrong, it wouldn't have changed my mind about starting a family and YES I still would like to have more kids if I could, but it might have prepared me a little bit more for the bad times and maybe I wouldn't feel like such a failure when I feel like I am not having a bad day with my kids, but a bad month.

Then lately I am worrying about everything. Getting back to the Ya Ya book, there was a section in the book where the daughter has an incident from her childhood that she will never be able to forget and probably never be able to forgive. It has scarred and shaped her as an adult. I thought about this, and instantly held my breath, starting to scan my own childhood for those incidents that I too will never forget. We all have them. I was trying to go back to Ella's age to see if I had a memory that far back. What age do kids start remembering your parenting mistakes and lows? I was suddenly filled with so much worry. Have I already done something that Ella will never forget? Have I yelled too loud, or handled her too forcefully, have I lost my temper and scared her, or said something she will never forget yet? Just a couple weeks ago I was recalling something from my own teenage years and a friend said to me "Wow you can tell you are still really bitter about it." My response was "Yes, I am, and I think I always will be." So suddenly I am filled with a completely unrealistic dread and worry of the moment I will commit my first act that my children will keep with them forever. As if to think there is anything I can do to prevent it. But hopefully by then I will not say, I did the best I could, but instead will say, I am sorry for hurting you, please forgive me and know that I love you.

And more worrying... lately my three year old is being ridiculously bossy. I cant tell if this is normal for the age or a personality or character flaw showing its ugly head. As a parent you want your child to be liked and you want people to want to be her friend. I am not talking about needing her to win a popularity contest. But I know children that are so controlling and so bossy and unbearable that other kids don't want to be around them. I so don't want her to be like that. So my worry that she will turn out this way might be making me over react when she is being bossy and controlling. But lately one-on-one play dates with friends have become more work then they are worth. For one, she is super sensitive due to some teasing she has been enduring recently. She is always on the defensive and thinking people are being mean or don't want to play with her, even when they are not, and she is always angry at her friends when they wont do what she wants when she wants it, or they don't play the way she wants. I do remember some of her friends being like this at times, but only caught glimpses of it. So here I sit, once again wondering is this yet another fabulous (NOT!!) phase that our children enter and I just need to sit tight and ride it out (like hitting or not sharing) or is this just a part of her personality? And if it is, should I crush it as hard as I am? What if her bossiness is laying the foundation for her to become a great leader one day, or a great manager, and it is just manifesting in ways that are not good right now as she learns how much is too much, but will eventually level out? And so I worry more...

And I said to my friend Jessica on Saturday some days I wonder how much of my teaching them to be good people, and good children, strays sometimes into me crushing their little spirits or personalities? And I am thankful for Jessica cause she listened to my ranting about all this stuff above with the most non-judgmental look on her face and said I am so relieved to hear you admit these things cause I don't feel bad anymore or like something is wrong with me for feeling some of these things too or for yelling at my kids etc. And then she said something that stuck with me and has put a smile on my face the rest of the weekend. She said:

"Jill you are a great Mom. Yeah your kids may remember some things some day but they will also remember that their Mom was cool enough to let them have their own Christmas Trees in their bedrooms. And your kids will say 'My Mom was cool, we had Christmas Trees in our bedrooms.' And really Jill, how many kids can say that?" Not many I thought. But mine can. Maybe I am not so bad after all. :)

I am not a perfect Mom, but I must be doing something right cause my Children love me more than anyone else on the planet. They light up when I walk in the room. When I am gone they truly miss me. And they actually want to spend time with me, at least for now...



  1. AMEN SISTA! Wow lots to think about. Seriously, you are not the only one that thinks these things, me to and probably most mothers :) Kassidy is also a boss and I always wonder if it's cuz I give into her cuz why wouldn't I? She wants me to play with a certain thing so I do, she wants me to color with a certain color crayon so I do but lately I have been wondering if my actions are teaching her to be bossy cuz I've noticed that she does it with friends probably cuz she doesn't know better, so I've been trying to tell her that I can pick my own color and to not tell me which one to use. Then around her friends I have to tell her they can think for themselves, you don't have to tell them what to do. Parenting is HARD and in reading your blog I can admit to feeling everything you do! You ARE a great mother and I LOVE the perspective your friend has...I believe it's true, so let's make better efforts to do little fun stuff like that so they remember good fun times with us. :)

  2. You are right, your children adore you and that is what really matters. They may be tough but there is a reason why they were placed in your care because you are a great mom and just what they need to be extraordinary women, just like you.

  3. Wow Jill, That was powerful. I too was thinking about our conversation Friday and it reminded me of the retreat I went on last October. I thought I was going to get something out of it about my marriage, but instead, what kept coming up is my issues with my parents, and specifically my mother. I wrote a list of every nasty or critical comment she ever made to me, every way in which she let me down, every time she wasn't there when I needed her. I thought finally I was ready to confront her, and hopefully make peace. But at one point it dawned on me: she did the best she could. And that's all I'm doing too. Let's face it, my best is a lot better than her best ; ) But I am the good person I am today because of every experience I had, for better or worse. So I chose to forgive my mother, fully and without confrontation, and it's my greatest hope that one day Summer and Leo will do the same for me. Because no parent is perfect, we are all, in one way or another, screwing our kids up. We hope it's minimally but all anyone can do is their best. I know you are an AMAZING mom, and your girls are lucky to have you. They will be the best people they can be, because of you. Love you girl... hope it's all headed up from here : )