Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Confessions of a Scary Mommy

The title of this blog is a book that I bought today and actually finished reading today.  I read this book while feeding Jake, while Jake napped, and I finished the last few pages after I put Jake down for the night.  I actually went to Barnes and Noble to look for a different book that one of my coworkers suggested I read- The Guilt of Motherhood.

I was taken back when this coworker of mine stated that she read the book.  I thought to myself, why do you need this?  You are a wonderful mother, what do you have to feel guilty about?  As it turns out, she cries about four nights out of the week because of guilt.  She says that even though she tries her best, it never ever feels like it's enough for her children.  She always jokes with her kids that maybe they'll have a better mom in their next life.  Her oldest is fifteen and autistic.  She often questions why God made one of her children autistic...I believe her words were, "What the f*** was God thinking?  I can't handle this!

Coincidentally those were my exact words when I found out I was pregnant with Jake.  At the time, it was extremely difficult to imagine my life with a child.  Three days out of the week I worked twelve hour shifts, and that meant I had four days to do whatever I wanted.  I had it pretty easy in those days.  If it was summer, I'd lay out by the pool at our apartment complex, get my toe nails done, do some shopping, and have a nice dinner with my husband.  As a bonus I could have sex whenever I wanted with my husband.  When I found out I was pregnant I knew all of that would change, and I was sad.  I guess that was the start of my guilt...I felt guilty for not being excited right off the bat when I found out I was pregnant.  Then there was guilt because I was worried that my way of life would change when there were women who would give their eyes, teeth, and nose to have a baby. (I'll just throw in I work with some of those...)  I had never looked at myself as motherly in any way shape or form, and all I could think was that I am bringing this poor baby into the world and I have absolutely no idea as to what I am doing.  Again, more guilt because I felt I wasn't motherly enough.  Hell, the first time I met my husband's family I practically had an anxiety attack because of all the kids that were at his parents' house.  All five of them to be exact. (Now that number has reached twelve since his brother has four kids and counting, one of his sisters popped out two more, and we have one of our own now)  I didn't have the slightest clue as to how to interact with them, I mean what do you talk about with a five year old?  Pudding?  Paste?  Cheerios?

Every night I feel guilty when going to bed.  I spend a good thirty minutes thinking I should have let Jake nap longer, I should have introduced green peas before zucchini.  I should have gave him more tummy time.  I should have popped in a DVD of Baby Einstein instead of Big Love.  I should have read more books to him.  I lay there thinking I am the most inadequate mother.  All of this goes through my mind at night making it extremely difficult to fall asleep.  That's usually when the tears start to fall.  I try to keep it quiet so I don't wake my husband up, but I'm not always successful on that.  The point I'm trying to make is that the book that I read let me know that I was not alone.  It gave me a peace of mind that other moms out there struggle with the same thing that I do.

This book provides an honest view of motherhood- the good, the bad, and the downright scary.  What really pisses me off about TV shows and people who do not have children yet is that they paint a picture of what motherhood is "supposed to be".  And it couldn't be further from the truth.  Yes motherhood is an extremely beautiful and rewarding thing; however, it's also tiring, messy, thankless, and strangely competitive.  At the beginning of each chapter the author has "mommy confessions" of different mothers who tell their secrets of motherhood, and I must say that I am guilty of a few of these confessions.  The author of the book talks about her journey through motherhood in an absolutely hilarious and truthful way.  There was one quote from the book that really stuck with me: "I shall remember that no mother is prefect and my children will thrive because, and sometimes even in spite, of me"

I'd like to share some things that I vow never to do again since I've become a mother.  First and foremost I will not judge how others decide to parent their children.  I will not ask the age old question "are you going to breastfeed?"  I've learned that it's none of my damn business.  I will not treat motherhood as a competition.  I will not shoot the parents of a crying newborn on a plane with death glares; instead, I'll give them looks of sympathy and compassion.  I will not roll my eyes at a child who is being extremely loud at a restaurant. 

I am slowly coming to the realization that I won't be perfect at motherhood, which is hard for me because I have the tendancies to be a perfectionist at times.  All I can do is try my best and hope that it is good enough.  I'll still have feelings of guilt...I don't know if that will ever go away, but at least I know that I am not alone.  And maybe one day my son will come to realize that everything I am doing right now is for him and hopefully he will appreciate it when he has a family.