Over the last almost 10 years, I have seen myself evolve into this new person. Mostly that evolution is due to me becoming a mom, more importantly, I became a single mom. I always knew that it was a possibility that I too would join the league of millions of other women, but it wasn’t exactly something that I was hoping for. Instead, I was hoping that motherhood would skip me completely, or wait until I settled down with the nearly perfect guy that would stick around and help me pay bills and raise our kids. No such luck though. But, like everything else that life has thrown at me; thick ankles, a sarcastic personality, and a double chin that doesn’t go away no matter my size, I deal with it and move through life accordingly. And up until almost 10 years ago, I have been pretty fucking good at dealing with stuff and not really crying (for too long) about how my life isn’t what I imagined it to be. I used to be able to bounce back pretty quickly, but after I became a mom…not so much.
At first I blamed it on the hormones. I had my daughter literally 2 weeks before I turned 30, so I was already in the middle of a major hormonal change, the pregnancy only made it more weird. I wasn’t an emotional crying basket case during my pregnancy, instead I kind of became the opposite. Me and my daughter’s dad had already come to the conclusion weeks into my pregnancy that we were not going to work, so I had to deal with that reality pretty quickly. I immediately went into “single mom mode” and totally stopped even considering him to be a factor in her life. I felt like I honestly had no choice for the sake of my emotional well being. It was either that or set myself (and maybe even her) for disappointment and heartache and those are 2 things that I already had way too much of early on in life and was fresh out of time for both. I know it sounds harsh, but I was literally in complete defense and protect mode.
After unpacking the idea that I not only was having a baby at almost 30 with a man that I didn’t love, or like for that matter, I had to deal with the fact that I had become a statistic and had not managed to break the cycle of my own conception. My mom was not married to my father and had me when she was almost 30 years old too. I felt ashamed that I didn’t learn from the past and from the hardships that I saw my mom go through. I felt stupid for not being a responsible adult and protecting myself not only from having a child but only God knows what else. But more than anything else, for the first time in my life, I was scared. I wasn’t ready to grow up. I wasn’t ready to be responsible for another person’s life. I was already irresponsible and making horrible decisions with my own life, how on Earth was I supposed to make good decisions for a small helpless person? It was all too much. But, I had no choice but to deal with it.
Don’t get me wrong, at no point did I ever resent my unborn child, nor do I ever resent her now. I knew that she was more than likely the best thing that would ever happen to me and was the catalyst that I needed in order to grow the fuck up. And reluctantly, I did. In my mind and heart it was the only thing I could do because I was all she would have. The change was almost immediate. I went from thinking only of myself and my well being to her being my number one priority. I put myself and my needs on the back burner and never thought twice. I read all of the books, watched all of the tv shows, talked to all of the good mommies that I knew in preparation for my daughter’s arrival. I figured the least I could do for her was to be a good mother despite all of my failings and flaws. I have always thought that kids deserve that from us, they deserve the best “us” that we can give them because they didn’t ask to be here. In a way they are victims of their circumstances and a lot of times their lives end up sucking because of that. I didn’t want that for her. I didn’t know what would happen with her father and I as far as co parenting, but I did know that no matter what, she would always feel loved and know that she meant something to somebody.
So for the past almost 10 years that has been my goal. Some days I feel like I have honestly achieved and exceeded that goal. Some days I feel like I put my best foot forward and provided her with what she needs in order to feel the love and support that a good parent gives to their child. But other days…uggghhh those other days are a bitch and in my child’s mind, I probably am one too. The biggest problem, to me is that we both need breaks and I haven’t figured out yet when to say ‘when’. I think it comes from my excessive ability to try and overcompensate for a missing parent. I know now that this is unhealthy, but that’s one of those things that has been learned painfully. If there is a bit of knowledge that I could ever pass on to anyone in a similar situation, it would be TAKE A BREAK. IT’S OK.
This shit is hard.
At no time during my pregnancy do I ever recall reading a book that said, “Read this shit if you want to but be warned there is really no guide to this and you are going to have to figure it out on your own.” At no time during labor and deliver do I recall my obstetrician saying, “Hey! Are you ready for the most emotional ride of your fucking life? Too bad if you’re not because it’s too late to turn back now!” That has literally been what motherhood has been like for me, a complete and total beautiful disaster with moments that are filled with sadness, hurt, anger, joy, happiness, pride and unbelievable amounts love. Like, tears brimming in my eyes just thinking about it love. It’s almost maddening. Almost.
So far, I have been handling being a mom ok. Some days I feel like a failure, and others I feel like this was my destiny. It’s funny to me because some people think I’m this great mom, when in reality I am just flying by the seat of my pants trying to figure this shit out one day at a time. To get a real time pulse check, I often ask my daughter what she thinks of my parenting skills. My ratings so far have ranged from best mommy ever to mean sometimes, and I cannot argue with any of those because her perception is her reality. That is some scary shit for your ass, right? Just the idea that our actions and words are shaping and molding the psyche and behaviors of someone else can be a lot to take in and realize. There is so much power and responsibility in being a parent or guardian that it makes me cringe at the idea that ANYBODY, including myself, can have the honor of being one. I often wonder what I did to deserve such an innocent and good person that trusts and looks up to me. Scary and beautiful all at the same time.
10 years. It’s almost been 10 years that I have been responsible for the well being and care of my child. If someone would have said to me 11 years ago that this is where I would be, with mom jeans, wearing discounted sneakers, and finding joy in reading children’s books, I would have told them they were crazy. I would have told them that they were out of their minds. But now, to try and think of what my life would be like without my child is almost impossible. I don’t want to come off giving the impression that I don’t like being a mother or that I hate motherhood, because the exact opposite of that is true. I just wish that sometimes I knew what I was doing.
As it turns out, my daughter is literally the best thing that has ever happened to me. Despite her coming from a broken home, she is happy and cheerful and remains very positive about life and people. I admire her for that. Unlike me, she has always had a sunny disposition and I think that is what makes us work so well together. I am the glass half empty, she is the glass half full. Everyday that we wake, I am thankful for another opportunity to get it right. For another chance to be the best me that she deserves because she’s such a great kid. For another chance to tell her that I am sorry if I ever said anything that hurt her and to thank her for believing in me. For another opportunity to tell her “I love you as big as the world!”
I cannot wait to celebrate another decade of life with her!