Some nights I sit down at my computer and the words just roll straight from my brain to the screen in front of me. Other nights I sit and stare at the screen, knowing that I want to say something…I need to say something…and I find excuse after excuse not to write it down and set my mind free. (*Shout out to Pinterest and Instasnapgram for those distractions.) Tonight is somewhere in between those two worlds.
I am currently teetering somewhere between exhaustion (you should see the dark circles currently camped out under my eyes) and a total meltdown.
I know that in the blogosphere/social media world that we are perceived either ultra-glossy with our lives together (even the messy stuff is still glossy y’all), or we are letting it all hang out with no shame and no apology.
I am going to sit here and let you all know that I had a bad day today.
And the day before.
To be completely honest, the last couple of days have completely sucked.
So there you go.
When I see those words written out, part of me feels the pull to delete them and find words that are less harsh and more palatable; to find a way to not sound like I’ve lost it completely. But I’m not going to because it’s the truth.
I have cried several times, and I’ve held my breath a couple times trying not to let my emotions and my frustration and hurt billow out of me. Then, at the end of it all, I slump deep into my brain and replay each awful moment over and over again…telling myself that I am somehow solely responsible for everything that played out.
See, for those of you who don’t know, I have two kids under 3. My son will be 3 in October, and my daughter is almost one-and-a-half. The past few days with my son have been…difficult. He is strong-willed, which I love about him because of all the things it pushes him on his own to do and be and create, but with that strong will comes a few challenges. Challenges like stubbornness, easy frustration, intense emotions, and friction.
Basically, he and I are the same.
In the past few days, however, we have begun to butt heads. He is wildly stubborn and reigning that in has proved to be a task. It all came to a head when, after repeated time-outs, talking-to’s, and spankings did nothing but cause things to escalate, did he look me in the eyes and tell me, “You’re stupid Mommy.” To which I obviously replied, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” He stood there, staring at me and said it again, “You’re stupid Mommy. You’re a stupid, stupid Mom.”
I felt as though I’d been punched in the gut, the wind completely knocked out of me. Tears immediately sprang to my eyes and I struggled to compose myself (and not scream), as I quietly told him that he is never to call anyone, especially his mom and dad, words like stupid. I sat there on the ground with him sitting in his tiny chair in front of me and held my breath and counted in my head as thoughts and memories began to unearth themselves and voices get louder and louder. I did everything in my power to show love to my son as the tears leaked from my eyes and dropped to the floor and the old mantras began to get louder and louder…”You’re stupid. You’re not enough. No one loves you.”
For those of you who read this and have kids, you get it.
For those of you who read this and don’t have kids, I hope you never experience this…even though the odds are good you will.
Jude and I struggled to find common ground the rest of the day, and I did everything that I could to love him and guide him as firmly as I could muster. See, the goal is to break the will, not the spirit.
From there we headed to a night with friends where I then managed to lose both of my kids in a matter of a moment as they played in the backyard. Everly wandered off first in less than a minute. She was there and then she wasn’t. Thankfully she hadn’t wandered far and was grabbed by a friend. Jude wasn’t 5 minutes after that when he actually made it out of the back yard and into an adjacent yard. Funny enough it happened to be the home of one of his teachers from his Mother’s Day Out program, but I wanted to crawl in a hole.
Cue “terrible mother” mantra in my head.
I went to bed feeling completely out of sorts, hoping that the next day would hold something new and refreshing.
It ended up being a long night with restless kids (one of them teething) and everyone woke up on the wrong side of the bed. It didn’t take long for Jude and I to go at it, and in the middle of trying to console him after (another) time-out, he told me, “Don’t hold me, I don’t love you.”
This thought still makes my heart crawl up into my throat.
In the reality of everything that is involved in parenting, I knew that at some point I would hear those words: “I don’t love you”. But I wasn’t expecting them at 2.5, and I wasn’t expecting them to catch me so off guard. I was stunned, tears springing to my eyes and overflowing faster than I could stop them.
I felt as if I had been mortally wounded. How could this sweet boy say those words? Did he mean them?
I quickly told him with baited breath that those words had hurt me and made me sad. I allowed the tears to fall and I watched the attitude on his face melt away and be replaced with concern. “Mommy…I do love you…I’m so sorry.”
Even though I was thankful that he understood in that moment the weight in his words, I had been gutted. The damage was there whether he had meant it or not. Those words made me feel empty.
The day continued up and down, with more tears and more hurt.
Let me be incredibly clear that I love my kids and I love motherhood more than I have loved anything else outside of my husband. They have breathed a life force into my world so incredible that it’s borderline impossible to put into words. Those two have stretched me, taught me, pushed me, and made me realize the possibilities of this life with not more than a glance and game of tag. I live for them.
But loving at this capacity is new for me. Yes, I’m crazy about my husband, but these two tiny creatures are a part of me. I felt them move before anyone else and I cannot imagine my life without either of them. I beg God daily to let me love them until I’m 6 feet under. I beg him nightly to keep them safe, warm, healthy, strong, and to know that they are loved like crazy. But yesterday and today were new and I feel as though I’m spiraling deep into myself.
Doubt, fear, failure.
Maybe you think I’m overreacting. Maybe I am. But that doesn’t invalidate those feelings. It doesn’t invalidate my pain.
See, I sit here, glass of wine in hand, and I’m pouring out these words because I don’t know what else I have left. The voices of my past are deafening at this point. Maybe that’s why I feel so overwhelmed and empty. I know that my son doesn’t think I’m stupid and doesn’t not love me. But there was a time when I believed that because others thought that of me. Sometimes I believed it because it was said to me.
Maybe I still believe those things…
So there you go. My heart opened up and my feelings and failures laid out. I don’t ask for your sympathy. Not the reason I write. I ask for you to know that my life is far from glossy Instagram photos and funny Snapchat stories. My life is real, raw, and though filled with a love like no other, it’s messy.
Moms, don’t feel like you’re out there on your own. If anything, I get it. This motherhood thing is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for only the (perceived) strongest of us. If we allow it, it can make us into the strongest versions of ourselves. Believe that when you think you’re just not ready. Believe that when others doubt you or criticize you. Believe that when your child looks at you and says hurtful things.
Here’s to hoping for a weekend filled with love, laughter, and fewer tears, because parenthood is hard.