Posts tagged ‘self-forgiveness’

February 14, 2013

february: the final frontier

this is how it all went down.

i’d just given birth and, because my son was 11 pounds, i delivered my dignity along with him, leaving me disabled, for weeks, unless heavily medicated.

it was a preschool morning and i, somehow, managed to get dressed, as well as the kids, and then made my sore ass and their cute butts down the stairs, out the door, and in the car. we even made it there on time. it was amazing.

unfortunately, there, after all this effort, instead of a cheer squad ready-set to celebrate my achievement with high fives, was the parent sign up sheet for the halloween party that was scheduled for the following week. this is not the stuff that dreams are made of: i fail miserably at cute mom. the very mention of pinterest gives me anxiety and, on occasion, makes me hostile (you’ve been warned).

i began to sweat but, fortunately, was quickly pulled from my place of fear by my unreasonably competitive spirit (thanks, mom). damned if i’m gonna opt out like some flake, my inner monologue asserted, and i approached the sheet, handwritten in perfect preschool printing, with my head held high.

i scanned the options (cupcakes, cookies, other things that required skill) and, then, relieved, my eyes zeroed in on the cheese and cracker platter. it was a cop-out, but it was a deal. we always have cheese, we have a pantry full of crackers and i felt that regardless of my current state (i.e. inability to perform basic bodily functions), i should, at least, be able to manage that.

no one will even think less of me, i thought, considering it was pretty obvious i had bigger issues to contend with (as evidenced by full brief adult diapers visible above the waist of my sweatpants).

as it turns out, i managed to forget that i’d committed myself to the easiest contribution and on the day of i noticed on the calendar that i had scribbled: “be cute for preschool”, in what looked like a menacing, drunken script. with minutes to spare i mad-frantic hacked up some cheddar and threw it in, of all things, a zip lock bag, complete with a paper plate (admittedly, weak choices) and a bag of stone wheat thins. not quite what i’d envisioned providing for the merriment of my son’s first preschool celebration but i, delusional, assumed it would be good enough.

needless to say, whilst funneling into the classroom i couldn’t help but observe the amazing spread of wholesome and delectable treats also making there way in, held proudly above the makers shoulders as they unzipped the coats of their children with one hand. i cringed, my entire body shrunk, when i saw the other mother’s cheese platter complete with a variety of fromage choices cut out in seasonal shapes and figures (we’re talking about pumpkins and acorns here people) with a wide selection of cracker pairings attractively displayed on a carved wooden serving dish.

head down, i slinked to the food table, infant car seat bumping along my shin as i shuffled my pathetic remains forward. i casually placed my offering on the table providing no eye contact and no conversation, so not to draw attention to myself and in hope of it all going unnoticed.

i left embarrassed and upon return home, i debriefed with my father, who had arrived for his shift as assigned support person, present to intervene should i fatigue, hemorrhage, or melt down to the point of being unable to parent. another mother failure, i reported. sucked it up hard at today’s cute mom attempt, i confessed. patiently, he heard my ridiculousness and shallow musings about the mom race.

fortunately, by pick up time, i’d snapped out of it. eff it, i’d decided. in the classroom i confidently collected my child and scanned the food table to see if any leftovers required gathering. there it was: my ‘effort’, untouched. even the children knew it was a flop. i shrugged it off and then marched over, scooped it up, and made our way to the car.

my father, having accompanied me for the ride, was still in the car with baby. he wisely remained silent as i wrestled my sugar-high boy into his car seat and then collapsed into the driver’s side with a whine- rejected snack in lap.

a few minutes later he broke the silence. “so…”, he began, tentatively, “it all came back”.

just then, before i could reply, the big boy asked for a snack.  “well, looky here son”, i replied, “i happen to have some crackers and cheese ready, just for you”.

my dad and i, delirious, laughed all the ride home.

so…. it’s valentine’s day. you’d think that months later i would be healed from the ego wounds i suffered so many months ago. well, perhaps i have. this said, the depths of my vanity are profound and i have been waiting for months to redeem myself.

and, now that i am continent, can walk with some grace, and generally function like a regular woman, i did. i participated in some role play and put on the ol’ apron. i read and re-read the recipe. i measured, mixed, and swore. i created havoc, and cookies. i dressed myself nicely, walked my son in proudly, placed the platter down whilst engaging as many people as possible. i returned, sure that my treats would have been well appreciated.

and, they were. that’s right, bitches.

p.s.- i realise that my cookies looked like pinterest cookies after they made friends with the blender. whatever. the point is, i baked something, all by myself, the end product resembled a valentine’s cookie, and they were full of sugar. the good moms might scorn me behind my back for not making something with whole grains or a super food but the kids apparently liked them and i got a story out of it. frankly, this adventure turned out better than the last vanity fuelled activity i shamefully participated in i.e. forcing my engagement and wedding band on my sausage of a ring finger trying to prove to myself that i’d lost enough baby weight to get away with it. in the end, my finger went numb, purple, and swelled up until it looked like an angry penis. the rings had to be cut off. no word of a lie.

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January 28, 2013

a ghost just needs a home

a week before christmas i was on the ferry to vancouver island when i found myself in front of a large and unforgiving mirror in the poorly lit ladies bathroom.

my baby was being love hushed to sleep by my spouse and my three your old was running laps, quite literally, around the washroom- offending some with noise as he slapped opened doors; terrifying others as he bent down to peer in curiously; humoring grandparents who delighted in his high energy squeals, echo experiments, and relentless questions; and irritating those without children who were used to navigating their lives, or at least their time in the facilities, without the nuisance of interruption.

it was an early ferry, full of other families who don’t consider having to arrive 1/2 an hour prior to an 8 am ride unrealistic. i don’t much mind. i was always a fan of the morning and at this point i’m well used to waking up 7 days a week to bright eyes and high needs. i was tired, though, and looking at myself straight on i was undeniably pale and weary appearing.

it was the first time since my husband went back to work after our baby had come home that we were all together with no frantic functional weekend hustle to contend with. just us, just space. baby was fed and was learning how warm and strong his dad’s arms were and our big boy son was trapped near me, given the too heavy door back out to the open boat. plus, he was happily terrorizing the public. i kept looking.

it had been a long and grueling 6 weeks with my spouse away from the home from dark to dark and with me having over scheduled myself and the boys in fear of feeling suffocated by home life. it showed.

i remember that i felt very calm and that i perceived the moment to be very quiet, something, i think, the other women who were around me would contest. i felt as though i had time, one of the few reasons i don’t resent the boat travel as many others do, and i stood there for awhile, taking myself in. scene was the same: black tights, black tunic, black boots, black cardigan, black purse. hair straightened, hair up. shira bracelet on. no make up. lip gloss applied.

i recall that on that day i had planned it so i could at least stand myself. i had chosen a comfortable travel outfit that was also cute enough to allow me an opportunity to run into any number of possible ex people i once shared life without wanting to cringe, or feel like i had to make excuses for my life. i smelt good, and that goes a long way in me recognizing myself.

it didn’t work. looking in the mirror i found that i hardly made sense. it got quieter. i blinked, shook my head a little, eyes still fixed. this calls for water, i thought, and i lowered myself to the sink. my body whined as i moved or, rather, my back screamed and my pelvis ached, moaned, and shifted with an audible clunk into another gear. my hands, stiff and clumsy from dehydration and the damp, found the faucet- an irritating push and receive with no option for agency- and they were soon filled with a safe tepid water. in a routine gesture, i applied to face, rubbed eyes, blinked some more. i fanned away the excess and rolled my spine up, neck and head having no choice but to obey. there she was again.

the woman looking back at me wasn’t old looking, per se, but she was so worn. she looked okay, if you knew the context, i suppose, but she didn’t look happy. i winced for the immediate pang of guilt.

it was too quiet, suddenly. i shifted focus to the external, again. feet planted, i cocked my head, listening for the sound of boy child. he was quickly located, making friends with a woman changing her baby. my eyes shifted down and i stood, listening. “i have a little baby too. he’s max, he’s so cute. mommy pushed him out her ‘gina. her bum hurts now”.

a smirk found my face and a chuckle bubbled in my throat. my eyes flicked up. gaze met gaze. there, i thought, she looks familiar.

November 30, 2012

the arrivals gate

it’s hard to talk about so writing about it is pretty scary- very concrete- as it officially means i am admitting to myself and then to the public (cosmically, if nothing else) that i don’t always enjoy mothering, especially, it would appear, from the trenches of the first few months.

i know damn well that i should be taking every opportunity to enjoy our new baby, given that he is darling, precious, and our last- soon to outgrow us all as well as his need or desire for my company- but… i don’t seem to really be capable of that today. most days, yes, i enjoy him immensely and now that i have got it all pretty sorted, this new life with two kids, i mean, the happiness quotient is rising with regards to all things parent. this morning though, i feel busy and harassed being responsible for the two of them and i find myself mid bitter identity crisis regarding where i am in all of this. i think it’s fair to say that on this dreary day, the chaos and ever present neediness x 2 is detracting from whatever bliss i should be feeling.

i remember this with my first son, as well. i didn’t find parenting hard, or meeting his needs to be a skill beyond me, but i found the transition to being a parent, exclusively, in those early months challenging. there wasn’t a whole lot of room for me to be anything else but what he needed me to be and despite my love for him and my pride in him and the delight i found in him, i had days where i felt suffocated and would find myself busying about at times, trying, somehow, to feel as though i accomplished something tangible, or that my day had meaning, in a way that could be measured. other times, the often sound of his crying was just so overwhelming that i would purposely engage in other tasks that i decided to define as important and pressing, just to justify diverting my attention and energy elsewhere which would give me reprieve from him, like vacuuming instead of continuing the constant effort of  trying to make him stop.

on those days when out was what i needed, part of me felt guilty but the rest of me felt good- immersed in an activity i could effectively manage-and i felt liberated, because i couldn’t hear him for a while and i could trick myself into feeling alone, and maybe even free. it was a falsehood, of course, as you can only vacuum for so long, and too soon i found myself called to face the enormous challenge of having a dependent and, as a direct result of this reality, not having much choice making room for myself. but, even the mini break did me good and benefited him in the end as well, as i returned fresh and maybe even kinda renewed. ready, anyhow, to keep on giving.

i find myself there again every once in a while, where i feel irrationally annoyed that my baby can’t somehow meet all of his own needs and leave me out of it in the meantime. compounding this is my three year old who has even more wants of me, and his requests are more creative, refined, complex and exhausting by virtue of same. they aren’t unreasonable demands and it’s not that i don’t have time or energy for them, it’s that i simply don’t always want to meet their (seemingly insatiable) requests of my body, mind, and spirit.

it’s at moments like this when i can’t help but wonder if maybe my personhood gets in the way of my motherhood. maybe i spent too much time in university and that’s why i always crave diversity, stimulation, and challenging dialogue. maybe i was single for too long after i graduated, had too much fun doing whatever i wanted on my own terms, and got selfish and now find it hard to share. or, maybe i was partnered for too long before kids, got spoilt and now miss my spouse as well as having a conversation with him that doesn’t revolve around the to do list. maybe it’s because i love my work and lose some sense of self-importance when i’m not busy being fabulous at it. maybe i am a product of a generation of selfish assholes (it’s a popular theory) and therefore resist selflessness. maybe it’s a combination of all these things resulting in too strong of a self concept that means i can’t be subservient to a baby without missing who i was. or, perhaps, it is completely normal for women to experience some internal conflict, resistance, and discomfort as we redefine ourselves (over, and over again) for the benefit of our family.

whatever. point is, it’s not the kind of day where it would be in anybody’s best interest to try and befriend me at the playground. but, i’ll be back at my joy. soon. arriving there may be more of a circular then linear process but i believe that i will make progress. i may be present and immersed and whole in my role one day and then i may spiral again, to the angst among unreconciled versions of self that can’t find room to think, let alone exist.  actually, it’s more then believing in better. i know i will get back to happy.  i have history on my side this time and i know that this is fleeting and that it all transforms and develops into good, good stuff. i walked this road before and we all survived.

as for now, i will practice what motherhood has taught me better than any other experience: i will try to let go of preconceived notions; i will try to shake off unrealistic expectations; and i will try to be sensitive, gentle, and generous with those who need it the most, myself included.