As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been missing for a while. If you know me personally, or have been a very observant reader, you probably know that I have a poor coping mechanism when I get emotionally overwhelmed. I roll up into a ball, put on my protective shell, and turn into a hermit, blocking out anything and anyone that might go deeper than surface level. It’s been a month of that around here.
But tonight, after a grueling few weeks, I’ve found myself feeling peaceful. It’s been a wonderful day and it’s an equally wonderful evening. Sitting in the Florida room feeling a gentle breeze and listening to the pitter patter of a summer shower, I feel the words bubbling up inside of me again. Those beautiful, painful, real words that I have swallowed down for a long time are opening me up and easing the numbness away. And it’s about time.
Today was my 4th Mother’s Day.
In many ways I can’t believe that, but in other ways it feels like I’ve had this special boy, my Little Man, in my life forever.
While the others were wonderful too, this Mother’s Day has been different.
I feel like I’m fully aware and present this year and thus have been filled with so many thoughts and emotions. Most are great, some are painful.
I woke this morning to the sounds of my son playing in the play area with his Nana. After venturing out, I was sent back to my bed with hushed whispers and poorly-hidden smiles. Within minutes my little one appeared, struggling to carry a tray filled with treasures he chose just for me. Fresh hydrangeas were cut from a bush in the yard, pictures were colored, wrapping paper was adorned with scribbles, and a random assortment of foods were hand-selected (hard-boiled eggs, bacon, oranges, hot chocolate, and Kisses…haha). And when this shining, proud little boy presented them to me with wide eyes and a grin he couldn’t contain, all I could think was.. “I’m not worthy of such a treasure…”
After happy exclamations and a smothering of kisses and hugs, I was left propped up in my bed with my treasure trove and a book. Instead of reading, I spent the next hour reflecting. Forcing down an adorable meal, all I could think of was my reaction: “I’m not worthy.” This beautiful boy, this innocent loving creature bursting with life, was entrusted to me. Given to me by my Father, who knew I would have to raise him alone. Why? Why was I gifted with such a perfect treasure to care for and nurture and shape into a man, when I barely feel capable of taking care of my own self most days?
I sat there thinking of the past few years. When I became pregnant, I dreamed of the kind of mother I’d become. It had always been my dream to be a wife and a mother, to grow a brood of children and lavish them with love. The Hubs and I privately tried for a long time with no avail, only to be surprised randomly after deciding to ‘give up’ for a while. I’d dreamed of, hoped for, cried over, and yearned for this child for a long, long time. And from the moment he entered this world, nothing went as I had envisioned. Birth complications, health concerns, NICU time, medical struggles, and a looming deployment robbed us of a large piece of our lovingly-anticipated pie. But we found peace in knowing there would be a time when we could one day enjoy things the way we had desired them to be.
But that day never came. Instead I found myself a single parent, never having truly experienced the co-parenting family relationship we longed for, and forced to not only learn how to be a parent as every young mother does but having to learn how to do so alone and while grieving the biggest loss of my life.
And if I’m honest with myself, which I was this morning sitting in my bed sipping cold hot chocolate with hot tears running down my cheeks, I think I’ve failed him.
Sure, from the outside looking in it appears that I’ve been an amazing mother. Strong, connected, driven. These are the things I hope to be and try to be. But only God and I have seen the breakdowns, the mornings where it was too hard to get out of bed and instead of swallowing it down and doing what needs to be done I just crawled to the couch and laid there instead while my child played with blocks next to me. Only God and I have seen the moments where I could have used a situation to connect with my kiddo and instead it was too difficult so I numbly distracted him another toy. Only God and I know the times when I should have prepared a nourishing meal with love and instead felt too overcome with memories to enter my kitchen and cook out of the same pans I fed the love of my life with, so instead I ordered pizza. Only God and I have witnessed the times I rushed through or skipped entirely our bedtime story because I felt I needed to sit alone with a glass of wine to ease my misery. Only God and I know the real moments I have failed to be the mother I wanted, dreamed, ached to be… and only we know the guilt that has placed on my soul.
Today I realized just how much pressure I have placed on myself to be the perfect mother. And I wonder, would I have been this hard on myself with The Hubs were here? Would I have expected myself to be everything and more if I had had someone to share the responsibility and gift of parenting this amazing creature? And I also wonder, does it really matter? This is where we are today. This is where we have been for 974 days. I have had 2 years, 8 months, and 1 day to figure out this life and my role in it. I have had 139 weeks to learn how to be everything my child needs. And while I think I should have had it all worked out by now, does any mother really ever know how to be everything for their child? Can you ever really be everything you want to be? Should you, even?
Even after I forced myself to crawl out of bed, play cars for a few hours and then displace my focus by lavishing some love on my own mother, I still found myself contemplating my desires, my failures, my current situation, and my own state of mind throughout the day. And now that the day is done and I sit here enjoying the crickets’ song and the raindrops’ harmony, I’m finding that the best realization I took away from this entire day is this: I am a perfectly imperfect mother.
I was chosen to be here. I was selected to be the recipient of this amazing gift, and there is reason for that. I may not understand it, I may not feel I deserve it, and I may not think that I am doing it justice, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am here for a purpose. And even when I feel that I am failing him, I am feeling that out of love. Even in my moments of weakness, I am weak out of love. And even in my imperfection, I am imperfect in love. And love is really all you need.
I am so thankful for the love of my son. I am so thankful for the love of my own mother, and my second mother, for giving me perfectly imperfect examples to model. And more so, I am thankful for the love of my Father, for giving me the peace and grace that can only come from a TRULY perfect love. I am so grateful to I know that no matter how undeserving I feel, no matter how much I falter or fall or struggle or anguish over giving my son everything he deserves, I have an unfailing Father who can give those things THROUGH me. He has given me a perfect gift: a living, enduring example of my greatest love, The Hubs. I wish more than anything that he could see his boy today. But I know that he is witnessing him from the greatest place possible, and he is proud of me for giving him everything I can and trying to give him everything he couldn’t. And I will continue to do that until the day I leave this Earth.
So if that is the definition of being a “worthy” mother, then maybe I am after all. I am a perfectly imperfect mother. And I’ll take that and run with it…
Happy Mother’s Day to all of my fellow perfectly imperfect mothers. You are beautiful, inspiring, and you mean the world to your children. Even though it is easy to do otherwise, don’t doubt yourself. You are beautiful. You are enough. You are worthy. <3