All any Mother wants is to be a good mom for her children. For them to know just how much she loves them and what she would sacrifice for their happiness. For most mothers, it is a wanton worry because they are a living example of the stereotype. They have all the makings in their bag of tricks, so it’s no surprise: financial and emotional stability, great health, stores of energy, craftiness, patience, and most importantly, after unconditional love, a great support system. I worry to the point of paranoia, because I don’t have anything on the list but unconditional love to offer my children. Will they understand one day? Will they resent me for being their Mother? Will they tell other people what a bad mother I was, when they are adults? Will we even have a relationship left by the time they’re grown?
With four kids, our expenses are stretched thin and it is damn near impossible to keep them in brand new clothes. We haven’t stepped foot inside a mall in years. They don’t have multiple pairs of shoes or oodles of accessories, hats, and belts to color coordinate with their outfits. They certainly have what they need, but they do not have a wide variety or a multitude of anything; much unlike their friends from school. My second son would cut off his left arm for a pair of Air Jordan’s, but we just can’t afford $150 for a pair of shoes to make the kid happy, and it pains me. There are no extracurricular activities like basketball, soccer, or dance. No family dates to museums, bowling alleys, or the movies, either. Our financial situation sucks more than ever since I’ve been unable to work. Yet, I don’t qualify for disability because I waited too long to apply. Are my kids going to think their childhood was shafted? Will they miss out on discovering a real talent? Will they hate me because they missed out on so many common life experiences which can’t be made up?
My health is not good for someone only in her early thirties. I have Degenerative Disc Disease with bone spurs. It limits my mobility even though I do push my physical limitations farther then I’m supposed to. I could never compare myself to those Pinterest-perfect moms I secretly envy. It causes me to waste precious energy on worries from self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness. Exacerbating the whole situation is the depression I’m constantly battling for control. Impeding thoughts of doom and gloom race through my mind frequently, playing out like those made for television Lifetime movies. Some days, I’m so physically drained which wears on me mentally, I feel like I’m deadweight and can’t move from “mom’s spot” on the couch. These are days I have to tell my children that I just don’t feel well enough to play horsey or go to the park, they can’t have friends over or make the intricate craft we had planned a week ago. I feel like the worst mom on the face of this earth in these low moments. Do they think I am the worst mom ever, too? Do they accept my illness and know it isn’t my fault? Do they see how much I try to push through my pain and despair? Will they hold this against me until the day I die? Will they call me crazy one day? Will they be stunted in some way because I’m not always emotionally available?
My biggest wish would be to have a traditional support system to lean on while I make my way through this haphazard parenting journey I’m on. In some way or another, I know it would make a huge difference in the way things are right now. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be drowning in trepidation over my relationship with my children if I had any kind of support at all. With my husband’s twelve hour, half-afternoon/half-midnight work shift leaving me as a married-single mother, it is just me and the kids- twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The only day off he gets he needs to use for recharging his own batteries, which doesn’t allow for giving me a day off for myself. This is the point where everyone suggests I call my parents or his and ask to drop the hooligans off for a few hours, the day, or a sleepover. Ask a good friend to come over and help me clean up the house. Call up an aunt to see if you can come over for a girl chat gossip session while your kids run wild in her humongous backyard. This is now the point where I begin laughing maniacally in their face. I don’t have those kind of comfy-cozy close relationships in my life. There is no one willing, able, or offering to help me raise my children, despite all the hurdles I have on my course. Are they going to realize I didn’t have the support those good mothers have? Will they see how limited my options really were? Do they know how much I have given of myself to do right by them? Are they going to see me as a failure? Will they think I didn’t give them enough? Are they going to distance themselves from me as they grow? Do they think I’m broken? Do they EVEN know how much I love them?
My worrisome, guilt-ridden thoughts eat away at my confidence. They bring me far away from my natural happy-go-lucky, go-with-the-flow disposition, taking me to a place of depression which is hard to climb out of. But NOT impossible. I still have the greatest of all the good mother makings in my bag, the most powerful of them all: unconditional love. It is true what they say about love conquering all because no matter how low my obsessive worrying brings me, I am always able to find my way back on the love train. Regardless of my pain level, the bad days full of darkness, or my inability to provide a wealth of experiences and material things I always have an infinite bounty of love for my children; no strings attached. The love I have for them pours out of my heart and soul with no limitations, no conditions, and no boundaries. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for their well-being even if it meant dealing with excruciating pain. I can’t be so hard on myself for not fitting the mold of a stereotype designed around circumstances which are NOT my own. If my children cannot feel the love I never stop giving them, then it is no fault of my own, because I am doing the best job of mothering I am capable of doing.
Have I taught them to be compassionate enough? Have I shown them how to be themselves despite social expectations? Do they see I march to the beat of my own drum, because it is the beat of my soul? Will they realize you don’t have to be anything but yourself? Will my journey inspire them one day?
Molds were made to be broken. It is encouraged to think outside the box more than ever now. It is wrong for me to deny myself the credit I’m due and look down upon myself with unnecessary regret and guilt. I will love my children to the moon, around all the planets in the universe, through the Milky Way, across all the stars, and back into my heart…to infinity and beyond sanity until the day I die. I would give my last breath for them, to sound contritely cliché, without hesitation. They give me purpose and motivate me to fight the battles in my life and overcome the challenges they present. I want to be the best me I can be for them. All the worrying I do may be justifiable, but it is just as wanton as it is for any good mother.
Because, despite which tricks I may, or may not, have inside my mothering bag…I am as good a mother as any. Whether I worry incessantly, or not. It’s up to me to believe in myself- believe I’m a good mother, because not one of those tricks will do that for me.
What kind of mother would I be if I didn’t teach my kids to believe in themselves by me believing in myself first? The kind of mother I’ll never be, that’s who!
By: Kristina Hammer, aka, The Angrivated Mom