These are crazy times.
In the span of time since I’ve become a parent, there has always been this constant thought in my mind. And that constant thought was, “I don’t know how I’m supposed to be a mother. I’m still a kid. I’m a kid having a kid.” The first time I saw my belly stretch a tiny bit, heard my daughters heartbeat, gripped the cold metal on the hospital bed as my body fought against me and they wheeled me into the OR for an emergency c-section… I said to myself over and over, “I’m just a kid. I’m just a kid. I’m just a kid.” Becoming a mother is equally as beautiful as it is perplexing. I was twenty-six when that kid came out of me. A year before that I was chugging PBR at the Foster Avenue beach reading a novel by Anita Shreve.
I used to just stare at her. I would watch her eyes flutter while she dreamt. I would watch her itty, bitty hands reach out for me to hold her close. It was the most natural thing in the world. And yet- I would scream silently in my head thinking, “HOLY SHIT I HAVE TO KEEP THIS PERSON ALIVE. I CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER TO BRUSH MY TEETH RIGHT NOW, HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KEEP HER ALIVE? SHOULD I ASK MY MOM TO COME LIVE WITH US? I’M YOUNG. I NEED MY MOM.”
I’d love to say that those feelings subsided with the births of my next two daughters. But, nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. They just intensified. Significantly. I could have done a lot of things to help myself with the transition from youth to motherhood. I could have reached out for a mom tribe.
Instead, I reached for the wine bottle.
And so on.
When I stoped drinking, I realized it was my job to raise these kids. It was my job to be there for their boo-boos, their bedtime stories, their every need. That shit is terrifying. It still is. I started feeling things that I had stuffed way down.
Then something happened. Well, a few things happened. I found sobriety in a twelve-step program that has given me my life back. It has also given me a safe space to vent about motherhood one day at a time.
I finally grew up.
A few weeks back I was talking to my sister on the phone about this whole coronavirus thing. We both came to the conclusion that the end of times is near. This is the apocolypse. First this and just you wait- pretty soon the bushes will start burning, the seas will part, the stink bugs will start to multiply.
Don’t deny it. You’ve thought about it too.
As this conversation went on I explained to her that I firmly believe that the world will go POOF one day and that’s the end of that. I also explained that I wasn’t all that worried, because I figured that it would probably happen when my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren were alive. Not really something I had to worry about. I would share the same DNA, but I’d be dead for decades upon decades before all that would go down.
Yeah. Ok. So, I was wrong.
During this unsettling time of quarantine and isolation, my kids and I have spent a lot of days home together. In fact, my kids and I have spent ALL OF THE DAYS together. I’ve gone from newly single mommy land to newly headmaster, superintendent, homeroom teacher, personal chef, director of operations mommy land. There’s not a whole lot of time to question how we’re going to get through all of this.
We just have to go through it together. There’s been a shift in my inner mom monologue that constantly questions and wonders how things will get done. Gradually, I realized that I can do this. I can be alone here. I can put on my big girl panties and take on life like a boss bitch.
Every step I have taken in the past two years has prepared me for this. I can let go of my old life. I can have empathy, understanding, kindness, and compassion for others. Not all of the time, but I can at least try.
I can sit in front of my daughers as they learn about plural nouns and geometry and know that I am their teacher. Not just in those things, but in life. I’m not a kid. I’m a thirty-three year old, capable human being. I can face shit. I can face hard ass shit. I can face isolation, divorce, sobriety, anger, loss, confusion, hardship, and anything else thrown at me.
I am a grownup. I am exactly what these three little dumplings need. I can make decisions for them and our future that hurt, but are survivable. I can use the confusion to teach them lessons about adapability and acceptance. I can trust that inner tug in my gut that leads me to do the next right thing while trusting myself.
I didn’t know that I could be that type of parent seven years ago. I thought I would screw stuff up and ruin my kids’ lives, because I clearly had ruined my own.
That’s just a lie that my brain tries to trick me with.
I get to pause and acknowlege the way my brain is thinking. I don’t have to stare at these little people with tears in my eyes beacuse I’m doing everything wrong. I get to look into their eyes with pride knowing I”m doing the best that I can.
Sure, I need my mom. I’ll always need my mom. I need God. I need prayer. I need honesty. I need humility. I need integrity. I need happiness. I need a safe place to express my fears. I need the tired nights. I need rest.
I need help. Everyday. But the difference is that I”m not drowning in feelings of inadequecy. I’m learning the value of loving and trusting myself.