Missing Mother's Days

by - 8:22 PM

Last year I wrote a piece dedicated to the Fractured Father’s Day of my transition. At that point I had just begun to live my life openly as myself, and as such my Daughter still saw me as Daddy. It was a difficult and muddy portion of our relationship and that article is about finding peace in those murky waters. You can find that piece here.

This piece isn’t really about that sort of thing, so if you are looking for a redux I’m sorry to disappoint.
*waves hand*  “These are not the words you are looking for.”

If however you are here for my usual painful openness, well, step right up.

Because today we talk about me and the fear that I was a shitty mom.

I know this is a theology blog, and I try not to be overly crass, but that is the word that I think of and the word that best fits. So that is the word I will use.

First a little bit of exposition: In the year since my Father’s Day piece I have divorced my wife [for reasons left unstated here], and moved in with friends, rediscovered myself, realigned my relationship with my daughter, fell in love with a spectacular man and became a stepmom for two amazing kids. It’s been a crazy year.
In that year I have had more ups and downs, more ins and outs, more hopes and dreams than I have ever had in the rest of my life combined. It’s been wonderful.
And yet.
When I think of my past now, I have gained a slow creeping sadness.
A sadness so deeply rooted it is almost like a madness unto itself.
Even with the joy of finally being able to fill the role I have dreamed of since kindergarten, the overwhelming heartrendingly unspeakable happiness of getting to be a mom every day, certain ideas have begun to creep into my thoughts. This article is about those.

First off, they always start with, “Where were you before?
I mean, sure it’s all well and good that you are present with your kids now and take care of them, but what about before?
What about when the dysphoria had made you so depressed you could barely eat not to mention try to tell a bedtime story?
What about the vacant checked out nature of your parenting as you emulated the role models you had seen for “masculinity:? What about that?
What about all the time you lost?
What about those years you were busy trying NOT to be a mom?
What are you even?
What about those Missing Mother’s Days? Can you ever be anything but a fraud?
You whose womb is filled with dust, what right do you have to nurture and guide?
Why try when you already know you will lose?
Your own Mother has disowned you, shouldn’t that tell you something? ’’;

These are the thoughts I have boxed up in a dusty spider laden corner of my mind.
The thoughts that come out at night when I worry over my children.
These are the thoughts my future husband carefully folds and places back in the box, as he tells me yet again that I am a great mom, not to torture myself with things I couldn’t control.
So I try to quiet my mind and let these accusations rest, but even with those deepest darkest fears silenced there are still a hundred other worries that other moms face to stare me down, and the extra special ones that only mothers of divorce know.

“Am I doing this right?
What If I miss something?
Are my kids eating okay?
Are they healthy?
What about school, am I present enough?
Will the time I spend with my youngest be enough to help her through things?
What about their relationships with each other? Do they all know how much I love them?
What about all the stuff I can’t talk to my own Mom about? Am I missing perspective because of it?
Are they growing spiritually?
Will they be safe?
Will they be happy?
What if…..?”

I can sit and list these endlessly.
I won’t.
If you are a mom, you probably already have your own list anyway.

Sometimes I feel guilty for indulging these worries. Not because they aren’t legitimate, but because I can recognize that even having the luxury of worrying is a gift.

I have such a new respect for moms who suffer with mental illness and depression. When I was being eaten alive by dysphoria, these thoughts were rarely able to surface, not because they weren’t there, but because I was too busy trying to survive to have time for them. Every day was a fight to keep myself on planet earth long enough to see my little one grow up.

Now having won that fight, the insidious nature of guilt is to crush me for what I couldn’t do while I was fighting. It isn’t fair. It isn’t right. And I need to recognize that.

Today’s post is for me. But it’s also for all the other Moms out there still fighting and the ones who have come to a place of mental peace, only to fall into the trap of guilt set for you by your own caring heart.

To the Moms still fighting let me say this; “That is enough”
What you are doing is enough. You may think that just because you aren’t a perfect Mom, you aren’t enough for your children. But you are. Right now, this second, you are teaching your child the greatest lessons they could ever hope to learn, how to fight even when things feel darkest and that they are worth fighting for.
Whether you believe it or not, those lessons are enough.
Hold on, seek help, don’t despair while you are searching for it; You are enough.

To the other Moms, the ones who have come to the other side of the struggle and found a way to live beyond basic survival. Let me say this, “You were never meant to be perfect.”

You think that perfection is going to save your kids, but it’s not. You think that, making up for lost time is the highest priority, but it isn’t.
The fact is, there are no Missing Mother’s Days. There are only days you were teaching your children different lessons, days when you showed your kids how to live in the face of all odds. Those days are just as precious as the days you did everything right.
Every day you show up, every day you exist, every day you keep breathing and loving your children is important.
Kids don’t grow into adults in a vacuum, some safe beautiful bubble. They grow up out here, in the “real world” where trouble comes, where people have issues, where learning how to deal with reality is way more important than a perfect pinterest bento box.
Being a mom isn’t about doing it right all the time, it’s about showing your children how to learn and grow as people.
Yeah, they are going to grow up a little cock-eyed. Yeah, they are going to screw up. Didn’t you?

So finally, having said all this you may be wondering if I still worry I was a shitty mom.

The answer is YES. Of course I do. It’s easy to say these things, but feeling them is much harder.

What I will say though, is that I won’t let it stop me, I won’t let it weigh me down.

As hard as that is, that isn’t what my kids need. And isn’t that the most important thing?

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