What will my children remember of me when I am old, or… eventually, gone? Will they look back on their childhoods and remember being loved, cherished, cared for and delighted in? Or will they recall my tired face, my “maybe later”s, my “I Do Not Want to Have to Tell You AGAIN!!!”s
I had a bad morning today. A terrible morning. The kind of morning where I watched myself bulldoze over pretty much every gentle parenting philosophy or boundary I have thoughtfully put into place. The kind of morning that ended with everyone crying, and me knelt down, saying to my 3.5 year old: “You do not deserve to be treated like that. It is not your fault. Mommy is tired, and sick, and sad, and she failed you when you needed her. I’m so, so, so sorry. All I can say is that I’m sorry, and I am going to try to do so much better. It is not your fault.”
Apologies don’t change the fact that we messed up, and that our actions have consequences. When you’re a parent, the weight of these consequences can feel pretty damn huge. Terrifyingly huge. When you mess up as bad as I did today, there is nowhere to go but up. If you ever find yourself looking at your sweet little one through tears of shame and regret, there is nothing to do but slam the breaks on and try to make sure they know that it is not their fault. I know that this is not good enough, but unfortunately sometimes, it is as good as it gets. We are human, some of us have more baggage than others, and parenting is no effing joke. For everyone who has stumbled, and gotten dirty and scraped up on this journey, and who continues to pick themselves up and do the best they can for their children every day, I am here for you.
I want to get into the concept of judgement later on in a separate post. I think many of us project the nagging pull of our own self-doubt onto the world, and I think that if we can reframe that, we can maybe breathe a small collective sigh of relief. But for now, I just want to send out into the universe a special peace offering to my son (who is, incidentally, nowhere near old enough to read…)
I came across this journal entry tonight and was so thankful for the instant, visceral flashback to when my first baby was just 4 months old. Kids: when I’m old, or even when I’m gone, I promise I will remember everything. And I will love you unconditionally in my messy, honest way, forever and ever.
September 23, 2011
It’s 1:30pm and you’re napping. It’s a warm, humid, cloudy day and you’re feeling sleepy today. This is your third cat-nap since you got up at quarter to eight this morning. Last night you gave me a wonderful treat – you slept soundly from 8pm to 4am (8hours!) then nursed and went back to sleep until around 7:30am. My sweet baby boy…. Thank you. Mommy really needed that.
You turned 4 months old this week and I love watching you grow bigger, stronger, wiser. Your skills and personality are developing and multiplying before my eyes. You love music (Chuck Berry and Guns N Roses are your favourite this week… you are your father’s son. (Chuck I approve of, but GNR?? I just hope you show L. Cohen the same appreciation when you’re old enough to understand lyrics).
You love to stand up on your feet. Love it. I’m starting to wonder if you’ll ever bother to crawl, because you have no interest in lying down at all, whatsoever, unless to sleep. You just want to be on your sweet fat feet all the time, smiling and squealing with delight as you hold tight onto my fingertips or your daddy’s.
You drool and chew on your hands incessantly. No sign of teeth yet. I am not looking forward to seeing those little white chompers peeking through. I just know you’re gonna be a biter.
You have beautiful strawberry-blonde hair and gorgeous blue eyes. You are long, tall and strong. My boy. I love you so much.
A hug and a kiss,