Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mom Revelations

Ever have a mom revelation?  And Ah-Ha moment.  Where everything makes sense, even if it hurts your heart?  That happened last Saturday.

Under the circumstances, it's kind of funny.  But when I really thought about it, this revelation has made me sad and a little guilt ridden.  But when the truth hurts, it helps pave a way to righting a wrong.

I was at a birthday party for my BF's son.  He was turning two.  And this party was filled with all the usual suspects that have been gathering since her oldest turned one almost six years ago.  With this crowd I feel safe.  I feel like I can be myself.  I even feel loved.  So, I'm sure this had everything to do with my honesty.

The BF's sister in law was having a moment with her second born.  Baby girl is in that 6-9 month stage of separation anxiety.  So poor SIL was having one heck of a time with baby girl.  Every time SIL sat baby girl on the floor, or in a chair, or handed her off, baby girl would scream and cry big alligator tears.  The tears and the heartache were real.  So was the familiar look of frustration on SIL's face.

So I smiled my "this momma gets it" smile and said the only thing I knew I could say.  

I had one just like that.

She smiled back, a half smile half grimace, that only moms with demanding babies flash in those moments.  She asked me if it ever ends.  To which I replied it gets better.  Yet, there was something else I wanted to say.  Something I didn't even realize myself until that moment.  So I shared one of my biggest mommy revelations to date:

It gets better, but as she gets older, every whine and every cry, sends you back to this place right now.  And you are just as frustrated and sometimes more.

Then I shared this story, I'm going to share here.  I'm part embarrassed and part relieved.  Embarrassed because it shows that I'm still held captive by some of my PPD past.  Relieved that I'm finally able to recognize it and hopefully it will help me change.

I've finally realized why I lose my temper with Caitlin faster than with anyone or anything else in my life.  I can finally see that it has more to do with my past and not the present mothering I'm doing on a daily basis.  I'm still stuck in the fear and loathing that was PPD, but only when she whines and cries.

I've written about my journey with Caitlin before.  It was some of the darkest days.  To make it simple, I will say that Caitlin was a disgruntled baby.  Never satisfied, never content, and on some days it's possible she was unhappy.  So was I.  But that is an entirely different post for a different time.  I will say that we did not bond, as mother and child should.  Those first precious moments were overshadowed by boobs that just wouldn't work, a screaming hungry baby, and a new mom at the edge of her sanity and being.  It was ugly, friends, but at the time it was all I knew.

The winter of discontent for Caitlin has continued.  I don't think that she is an unhappy child.  But she is a child that can go from smiling to crying and whining in less than a 10 count.  And please, it's not a preschooler thing, it's not a girl thing, this is a Caitlin thing.  If you have a child like this then you will know.  You are most likely nodding your head now.

So I find that when things don't go her way, like pink leggings that didn't get laundered, or having to wear a size 11 shoe instead of a 10, I lose my *stuff*.  Like in less than a 5 count, I've yelled, screamed, and made a horrible mess out of virtually nothing.  She can push my buttons like no one else.  And it scares me, and it makes me feel guilty.  But finally on Saturday I figured out why.

For every hair that's out of place on her head, for every bow that's crooked, for every half hour spent on picking out an outfit on a given day, I'm reminded that every day has been a struggle with this girl.  That every waking moment for almost 5 years has reminded me that I am no longer in control of my life or anyone elses.  That some things cannot be fixed, or mended, or changed.  That my life is not my own. 

With every fit she throws, I throw one back.  Equally as charged, but somehow more loaded.  Because I'm the momma.  I'm the one who is supposed to be prepared for the challenges of why pink polka dots and orange stripe are not appropriate dress for school.  Why she cannot wear a size 4 anymore, because she needs a size 5.  I'm supposed to be stable and dependent and patient.  When it comes to Caitlin I am none of these things.

Realizing this has been a blessing and a curse.  A few weeks ago after a bad night in particular, my husband asked why I was so hard on her.  Why I lost my temper so quickly.  Why I just fly off the handle.  Why I answer her whines with a hard edge in my voice.  I could not answer any of those questions.  I admitted to knowing that I have high expectations for my little girl who can style outfits like Rachel Zoe, but has a hard time picking up her ponies.  My sweet child that can memorize a song after one episode of Shake It Up, but still can't recognize the word "on" by sight.  Unrealistic?  Of course they are, she is four.

Now I know why.  Now I know that every whine and every tear, transports me back to those foggy days.  Foggy days full of diaper changes, endless crying, and no napping.  Those middle of the night wake up calls that could not be relieved with a pacifier.  Those days of wondering how on earth I would get through that first year.  All the loathing.  The struggling.  The disappointment in motherhood.  I'm reminded of that every time.

I know this now.  With knowledge comes power.  Power to overcome feelings.  Power to make changes.  I don't want to be so hard on her.  I want to foster her determination and tenacity.  I want her to be this little creative person she is turning into.  I want to be able to lead her in the right direction without pressure.  I want to be patient and kind.  I want to teach her about the love between a mother and daughter.  I want to mend the trials of my mothering past, and set a better more patient standard for my mothering present.  Mind my temper.  Count to 10.  Breathe.

Please believe I love my child.  She is my heart.  She is my comrade in arms.  We are survivors.  We are a testament to unconditional love.  I fumbled and fell.  I've cried and screamed and all but given up, yet she loves me.  Like no one has loved me before.  Like only a child can.  And I love her more than my being.  Like only a mother can. 

21 comments:

  1. Such a strong story! Thanks so much for sharing and being so open about it. I think as mothers this is something that we all struggle with. Having kids is not easy!! Have a great day!!

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  2. I'm bawling. Love and hugs to you friend! Thank you for sharing your heart time and time again. And you are so right, knowledge is power. You are a strong mama! Love you!

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  3. This hits quite a nerve with me. I never realized it, until you said it. Every fit, every fight, every day that is filled with whining and crying, brings back all of the feelings of the ppd. Sometimes I wonder if it is still considered ppd, when my son is 20 months. Then I wonder if its just me. Everytime I lose my temper, every time i raise my voice a little too loud, i am so struck with guilt. Why cant I deal with it? :( But, the knowledge is power, and I am the one in control of my temper (even when I feel like my kiddos are).
    Thank you for sharing this. :)

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  4. Megan! i'm crying over here! you are a wonderful mommy & you and Caitlin are so lucky to have each other... even when it's not easy! Through my own struggles with Memphis, I can totally relate, as many other moms will too! thank you for such an honest and beautiful post!

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  5. Megan..thank you for sharing! So powerful and REAL.
    Ashley

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    1. Thank you. I tried to reply by email, but you are a 'no-reply' commenter. There is a way to fix that. Thanks for being such a great support to me and my blog!

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  6. Megan, this is completely beautiful. The first thing that popped into my mind was PPD. I know that feeling because it happened to me. My youngest was 16 when I gave birth to my 6 yr old. She has special needs and it's been a challenge since in the NICU. But when my 4 yr old came along, I just could not handle the demands of a new baby and a special needs toddler. The moment I was left alone for the first time after coming home PPD hit me hard. Turns out I have had anxiety all my life but did not recognize it and with the PPD, I couldn't get a handle on it. I still struggle with it and she's 4 and now I have a 2 yr old in the mix. Some days I struggle as you described. I don't like it. I don't like feeling that I am not in control, not only of my children but of myself. I feel tremendous guilt and vow to do better but some days it's just down right hard. The one thing that I love is how God shows me through my kids what unconditional love is. They love me even though I mess up, without hesitation. And my kids are amazed that I still love them when they mess up. It's a learning process for both sides but some days it's just so overwhelming. Thanks for sharing this Megan. Having 3 adult kids (2 girls and 1 boy), I can honestly tell you that each stage has it's challenges but there will come a time when something will happen and kids will "get it", all the struggles and challenges you went through with them, they'll appreciate it and be so grateful for you. I've reached that point with my older ones, I just hope I can hang in there and enjoy the time I have with my little ones till they get to that point. xoxo

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  7. You guys are amazing!! Thanks so much for your support!! I'm crying!

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  8. I'm crying and shaking my head and agree with it all completely. Having kids is so difficult, more than I ever realized it would be. And like you, I think I started off on the wrong foot. I find myself being hard on Oliver. He's two - and after the fact I always feel like a piece of crap. Maybe you're right on this - My early days with him were so hard maybe thats why I get so overwhelmed with him so quickly. Hugs. I needed to read this today. It's one of 'those' days.

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  9. What an amazing story. I can't completely relate, but somewhat. I only have step-kids, but I'm known to lose my temper and be short at times. And then i feel guilty and horrible and sometimes it's like a vicious cycle. i'm still learning and a lot of times I think it's because I'm a step-mom and that I'm horrible at it and they will hate me. It helps me to read things like this and realize that all moms - of every age and family type - have struggles. That none of us are perfect. That we all make mistakes. And that some days we do lose our 'stuff' and that's okay. Thank you so much for this. And for reminding me that everything is a learning experience and I can continue to push myself and better myself - but not be too hard on myself! xoxo

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  10. This really struck a chord with me, too. I didn't have ppd, but I had some other very unexpected serious issues to deal with in my life just four months after my first child was born. I feel like what happened to me has affected his entire life, and neither of us asked for it to happen or wanted it to, but as a result, I've become a much more cynical and short-tempered person. I now have a second child whose behavior until just recently has reminded me of my own very close bond with my mother (who is now deceased), but lately, she's started throwing tantrums and I feel out of control. Motherhood is not what I expected in both good and bad ways. I never expected to feel the love I do for my children, and I never expected to get so angry and yell at them so much. I keep waiting for the day when they no longer wet the bed, talk back, throw tantrums, have fits over tiny boo-boos, or just completely ignore me. I hope that day comes real soon.

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    1. I would love it if you emailed me. Days are too hard and too long to do this alone. These feelings you have are real. Anytime you'd like to talk or confess, you just send an email. I'm here.

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  11. Wow! Thanks for being so honest. I never had ppd but I can definitely relate in some ways. I , too, feel like I am much harder on my son and lose my temper so quickly. I hate this aspect of myself and want to make it better but I have such a short fuse. I like what you said about sometimes when a truth hurts it paves the way to right a wrong. So true!!

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  12. love you so damn much! i can so relate. i didn't have ppd per se, but i do struggle with depression issues and have certainly had similar moments. as always, i appreciate and respect your honesty and send you big hugs :) XO

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  13. Thank you so much for sharing this! I was nodding the whole time reading this post. Jay is the one I am like this with - I never understood it and without this post I may never have. You just opened up another world for me. I am relieved to know I am not alone. I love Jay to death and anyone who knows me personally knows I do. You have no idea what you just did for me - thank you so much again for opening up about this.

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  14. Oh man, tears streaming down my cheeks. I get it. I struggled so hard with ppd and psychosis after the birth of my last daughter (who is now 1.5 yrs old) and I feel so incredibly guilty that my bond with her seems to be somehow less than the bond with my other kids. Sometimes that guilt boils over into frustration and I find myself snapping at her for little things that are normal toddler behavior. This post took such courage to share, especially in a time where everyone has a judgment to make. Thank you so much for posting it, I am sure you have helped a lot of people today. I am one of them. Thank you.

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  15. I love that you've shared this story. I have no way to share in this frustration but one day I will. And when I do I'll look back at blog posts like this and remember that it's worth it!

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  16. Oh, Megan!! This is the first post I have read of yours- I just stumbled upon your blog. And I have tears in my eyes. I am so happy for you to have come to this realization & you have made me think about some of my reactions as a mother. Thank you for this! What a great post.
    Sincerely,
    Heather

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  17. I found you through the May Day blog hop and am looking forward to following along your journey!

    Thank you for sharing your story. I'm a new mom and while my four month old has been a very easy baby so far, I fear that may not always be the case. It's so nice connected with other moms who won't sugarcoat their stories and pretend everything is perfect.

    Your honesty is seriously inspiring. Good luck :)

    xox,
    Dana @ five30three.com

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  18. My friend and I were JUST discussing how the next time we see another mom with some sort of child issues - we're just going to say, "We've been there. We understand." It seems like there are way too many mamas judging instead of commiserating. My experience isn't just like anyone else's, but we all have similarities. Thank you for sharing your story! (I came this way via Baxtron Life party.)

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  19. This definitely spoke to me. I feel this way most of the time myself. I am so happy you liked it up on my blog. I hope others who feel this way read this post, so they can begin to feel like I do now. Relieved that I am not the only one.

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