By: Graeme Seabrook.
The sound of my son giggling through the monitor woke me. Then the thoughts began.
A good mother would have been up before him and ready to greet the day when he opened his eyes. A real mother would have already taught him how to say Mama. Why doesn't he ever call for me?
I set his milk to warm and then set the coffee maker up and turned it on, got him up and changed and we went into the living room to snuggle and have his morning bottle.
A real mother would have been prepared the night before. The Montessori book said that he should be pulling off his diaper by now. Am I not giving him enough freedom to learn? Should he still be drinking from a bottle at 19months? Why am I so selfishly holding him back? He should still be breast feeding, he should still be breast feeding. FAILURE!
He had apple zucchini muffins for breakfast in his high chair. Which, of course, he didn't eat.
Because you're a terrible cook. He isn't eating enough vegetables. He should still be breast feeding, he should still be breast feeding. FAILURE!
He played at my feet and around the house while I answered work emails, checked our calendar and made the grocery list for the day.
You are missing quality time with your child. Why isn't he your primary focus? He should still be breast feeding, he should still be breast feeding. FAILURE!
His father came out to play for a little while before heading off to work.
NO, you do not get to be jealous that he gets to leave and go to an office and talk to adults all day. NO, you do not get to be relieved that you don't have to get up and shower and put on makeup and look like a professional and go to an office all day. He should still be breast feeding, he should still be breast feeding. FAILURE!
I finished up the grocery list, got his socks, shoes and jacket on and threw a long coat over my leggings/t-shirt combo.
I may look like shit, but my child is always clean, fed and perfectly dressed. My mother never left the house looking like this. Is this the type of woman I want to model to my son? He should still be breast feeding, he should still be breast feeding. FAILURE!
When we got to the store there was a mother coming out with her daughter. We passed each other, smiled and nodded. The babies waved at each other - SO EXCITED to see another little person. In a moment I knew that she had showered and dressed that morning, she wasn't on any medication to make her able to get through her day, she was a contributing, functioning adult. Her daughter loved her, was happy to see her and happy to be with her. SHE was obviously breastfeeding. You just KNOW. This mother was better than me in pretty much every measurable way.
Some of the voices that live in my head come from my five year old self, dreaming about what it would be like to be a mommy. Some of them come from my pregnant self, reading books and articles, talking to the little alien swimming around inside me. Some of them come from the Depression and Anxiety that I have been battling since his birth.
Some of them are from the comments section of way too many blogs and articles because I still haven't learned to not read the comments. Some of them come from comments left on my own blog or as a reaction to something I posted on another blog. Anonymous lives in my head too. She is perfect and she hates me.
We have to stop doing this to ourselves and we have to stop doing this to each other. We each have the power - we can forgive ourselves and in doing so we can offer grace to each other. I see it in support groups all the time - moms offering each other a hand up, moms helping to silence the negative voices in each other's heads.
To every woman reading this I make a promise:
I will forgive myself and I will hold your hand while you forgive yourself.
I will stand beside you while we do the hard work of mothering.
We can do this, together.