After I had my daughter what feels like almost a decade ago ( shoot it was almost 10 years ago) I was blessed enough in my personal life to be able to stay at home and luxuriate in full-time motherhood. I had all these grand notions about how effortless and all encompassing it would be- the love would be so palpable, that I’d be able to subsist on it alone. Of course anticipation is never quite the reality, which hit me like a crushing slap in the face.
Motherhood, or to be more specific new motherhood topped off with postpartum depression, was more like a lesson in learning how to stay afloat when it seemed like I was drowning in diapers, three am breastfeeding sessions and this sense that while I had this newborn tethered to me and an outpouring of well-wishers I felt utterly alone. Once I was able to wade through and come to terms with my own insecurities, as opposed to dropping the baby off with a neighbor (and of course a well-stocked diaper bag) and riding off into the sunset, I was finally ready to fully embrace my stay-at-home mom role with a joie de vivre, except I was horrible at it.
While some moms swoon over their baby’s every first, I honestly can’t remember the first time my kids did anything. I hated watching all those lovable furry monsters our babies become so enraptured with and of course wrestled with all these feelings of not finding motherhood to be my true calling (I mean it’s been drummed into us from the time we’re little girls that it is in our very nature to mother kids- and when we do- a long dormant gaping hole will finally be sealed and satisfied).
I did not experience any of those I am a mother hear me roar- and the guilt I felt was extraordinary. So I stuffed it, buried it played along and even went a little overboard dragging my one and one a half year old daughter to any class that would let us attend and wouldn’t mind if we used a corner of the room to change diapers too.
I remember looking at all these moms, wondering, and secretly hoping one of them would grace me with a, ” I feel utterly horrible at this motherhood full-time thing and would so much rather be doing something else,” but I never got one of those. No we all sat there- clapping, laughing singing songs and cooing at our infants- and convinced ourselves that these $500 classes once a week for six weeks were going to invigorate their senses and have their brain synapses firing stronger than babies who were left to languish in day care.
Fast forward nine years and while the post-partum depression is far behind me, the guilt of never being a good enough mom
(the self-sacrificing, everything in life is secondary to motherhood type of mom) well it just never seems to subside.
While both my kids are in school full-time (to all you home-schooling moms out there- I am in awe of just how you manage it) I still struggle with feelings of not being a good enough mother.
Whether it’s feeling awful that I skipped reading my son a book before bedtime, because I needed to finish writing an article, or feeling guilty that I couldn’t attend my daughter’s dance recital dress rehearsal because I had to work. It’s gotten to the point where I experience so many of these- shoulda woulda coulda scenarios when it comes to my kids that I could likely fill an entire anthology in alphabetical order of all my failings as a mom. I wonder does this guilt over not being good enough ever subside?