April 18, 2012

My soul begs
for quiet
maybe even more
than my body
begs for rest.

A quiet room
and mind.

No racing
or legs
no loud
no hustle
no no no no
no strife
no strain
just peace
just a moment.

No, that’s not true. I want moments. Many many moments of quiet, in a row. It would take days and days of quiet moments for the recovering of this heart and mind. This person.

I am tight shoulders and held breath, sleep deprivation and overstimulation. I am numb. I am not. I am crying. I am trying. I am not. I am feeling a tinge of pride when my Dad walks in and I’m making brownies with Asher on a very bad day. Look at me go! I found the energy! As if his love for me changes based on what I’m doing or not doing. As if he has a piece of graph paper and goes home to erase a bar of love for me if my kids were in front of the TV and I was in my pajamas at 2pm. Sometimes that’s the way it is when he walks in and he doesn’t love me less. I know that. But I stand there thinking I’ve got something to prove.

I wish, oh how I wish I didn’t have this deeply rooted belief that It is All about what I Do. I know with my head that this is not true–it’s not about what I do. But the belief? Buried too deep, it’s there, expecting impossible perfection. So I have to use my head to batter it down, repeat repeat repeat that it’s wrong, this belief, and sometimes I’m just too tired so I lose that fight but I get up again and try.

All those years ago, almost seven now, before I had Miles, I thought I knew what kind of mother I would be, but I’m not her. I’m anxious and a lot of that is not my fault. You know, it’s like my therapist says, Please understand this, Heather…this is your bio-chemistry. My head understands her but my beliefs try to laugh in her face. They just battle it out while I sit on a couch like a cliche.

I hate it that my bio-chemistry is covering up the Heather I am. And at the same time, I’m glad to melt into my bed in more need and pain than I imagined motherhood would bring me. Because I’m buried there in need and surrender with no other choice and what if I still thought I could do it all on my own?  That’s worse. That’s more exhausting. That’s a mask and a pretending and I’m terrible at faking. Just terrible.

My child admitted to me that it doesn’t seem like I love being a mom because I get so grumpy so much. I broke in half when he said that. Everything broken, not just my head or my heart or my soul all separate with their separate ways of doing life–every part of me. And I wanted to make it so much bigger. I went to my bed and I cried from my core and said over and over how how how….how did it come to be? That I would be the impatient mother, on edge and prickly, anxious and reactionary? I swore I would not be her. And my boy, he doesn’t know. He doesn’t understand. I can’t explain that Life is very Big and there are things that tear you down and throw you around. He’s not old enough for that conversation and you know what? When I stopped making this difficult conversation bigger than it was? When I stopped sulking on my pillow and wondering if I should go away so they have a better life…(see? I was making it bigger)…I realized, through the help of the friend that I called while crying, that he knows. He knows I love being his mom. I know that he knows. There are so many times that I am patient and kind, when I respond instead of react, when I take them to the park and we laugh and make up silly games. When I kiss him goodnight and tell him 398 times that he is so good and I love him so much. He knows. He was mostly responding to the fact that I had not let him play on my iPhone because it was morning and time to get ready for school and stop arguing with me about it. But if I had allowed the screen time, he probably would have told me that I love being a mom.

That’s just it, you know? They are so concrete and I cannot allow this conversation to continue to punch me in my fear places. One of my greatest weak places is how I over-think my mothering and I could certainly take this statement from an honest boy and let it color every part of me and how I move forward, for always. I certainly could.

but it’s not about me.

that’s motherhood. It’s not. Not even this, is about me. I am writing this to remember that. I am writing this to say that I’m a good mother. I know I am. I know I am. I don’t need to get out my graph and erase a bar of love for myself. I am too in love with grace for that.

I am a really good mother and I say that to quiet my mind in the midst of all the noise, in and out.




Jo April 18, 2012 at 9:31 am

Yes. This.

Love you.

Jodi April 18, 2012 at 9:38 am

I can completely understand every single thing you wrote. I feel the same exact way so many days of my life. I now understand why mothers struggle and use alternatives to get through a day. When I started to read, I felt as if you were taking right from my head, my heart, and my sould. I love my children more than life itself, I just don’t love how I am not the mom that I am “supposed” to be. It’s depressing and sad to think that I am not this picture perfect, cookie cutter mom that I am “supposed” to be. I too, also said I wouldn’t be the mother my mom was…but I turned into her. I wish I could make that “bio-chem” go away, but I can’t. Thank you for the blogs…and to make me realize that I am not alone.

Tricia (irishsamom) April 18, 2012 at 9:39 am

Thank you for writing this Heather. It’s like you got into my mind this week, took out a pen and wrote down everything that is going through it. It has helped me tremendously just to read it. We are hardest on ourselves, mothers/people like you and me. Always judging ourselves with our measuring sticks that are not the ones that reflect accurate. The ones that beat ourselves up and analyse every single human thing we do as a mother, that we did not expect to do – it’s not like the motherhood that was in our minds all those years ago when we knew we’d do it just “right”. Except that motherhood is messy, it’s human and it’s hard. Writing the truth about how hard and how “big” and how messy helps us all to heal.

You are a wonderful mother. I know I am too, in some ways, in some ways, not so much. But at the end of every day, deep down, I know that my children know that sometimes loving them too hard, makes me imperfect and it’s not all roses and you know what? That’s OK. I love this. And I love you for writing it. For being raw and human and real.

Thank you.
Tricia x

molly April 18, 2012 at 9:48 am

This post is so timely. I had a really bad mothering day yesterday. So tired of the tantrums and how I go about handling them (not good). I know I’m a good mom but sometimes everything else clouds who I really am.

It is my bio-chemistry too. We have to work harder to see ourselves.
molly recently posted..The Story of my Diagnosis

Amanda @ The Lungos April 18, 2012 at 9:49 am

I have been trying to write this for months now. It is amazing how much this is me.

Thank you.

Lynda M O April 18, 2012 at 9:49 am

You are a good mom and your kids love all of you. There are parts of life they won’t understand until much later and that’s ok, Heather, you’re doing the best you can and they see *that* on a day to day basis. Just the fact that you worry about your skills being adequate brings you to a respectable place on the parenting scale. Parenting stands as the hardest of all jobs and you improve all the time. Hug that young ‘un a lot-it can only help. We love you too, Heather.

Stephanie April 18, 2012 at 9:52 am

So, so true and so, so me.

Last week I got, “Mommy, why are you so angry with me today?”
Um, I guess because I suck. Seriously still tearing me apart. I know the son who said this is a people-pleaser, and I must be careful with my words around him. But I wasn’t. And it hurt and sent me to my bad mommy place too.

One of my WORST habits is complaining about not getting respect for all the work I do. You know, my mommy job. It really doesn’t help anything to tell your 4 year-olds that you work 24 hours for them so could they please just give me 5 minutes without a want or need.

Like you said, I know they know I love them. I say it every day many times and show it when I do the things you say, slow down and care for them no matter how late we are for school. But, like all humans, I can’t do it all the time. At least I’m teaching them to say your sorry when you hurt someone.

Baroness Black April 18, 2012 at 9:54 am

You are SUCH a good Mum! But the truth is that you are one person in a family of five. I find it so difficult to balance everyone’s needs and wants without making anyone feel spoiled or entitled or rejected and ignored, but also without running myself down so much that I’m no use to anyone. It’s a balancing act, this family thing!
Baroness Black recently posted..Christopher Poole 31/12/1974 – 10/04/2012

Adventures In Babywearing April 18, 2012 at 10:02 am

Oh, that pain. The more you feel, the more you are a mother.

Adventures In Babywearing recently posted..There will be so many times.

TheKitchenWitch April 18, 2012 at 10:06 am

The honesty here is so heartbreaking and familiar.

How many times do I have to tell myself I’m a good mom, but then feel like I’m faking it all the time?

Like when Mama comes to Sunday lunch and I force myself to put on lipstick and make sure the girls are impeccably groomed, because good mothers wear lipstick and don’t allow stained shirts.

Miss D. once said, “Mommy isn’t funny, Daddy is. Daddy is fun.” It broke me to shards and I still hold on to it, even though in the back of my brain, I just need to be enough.
TheKitchenWitch recently posted..A Litle Tooth(#3)

Barb April 18, 2012 at 10:07 am

Amen. Beautiful. Absolutely wonderful post!
Barb recently posted..Home

Schmutzie April 18, 2012 at 10:17 am

You are, Heather. You really are. That he felt safe and accepted enough with you to tell you that speaks volumes. He wouldn’t have said that if he wasn’t also sure of your love.
Schmutzie recently posted..It’s Not About the Past. It’s About Taking Our Joy Back.

Michelle April 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm

This is exactly true.

And the same goes for you, Heather. You know we love you and you are safe to share with us. And we are so, so thankful that you do.

robin April 18, 2012 at 10:25 am

we are all good moms and all in need of His grace and His help, we cannot do it alone. But He doesn’t want us to. He made us to be mothers and he made us to call on Him.

This is beautiful. I understand the heartbreak of what your son said. The honesty makes it all that much harder to bear. But he also says “I love you” and “you’re the best” all the time and he means those, too. My dad once told me, “you’re a really strict mom.” And that has stuck with me. I never thought I was, nor did I ever want to be that mom. But maybe I am. And that’s ok.

They love us. Unconditionally. And they give mercy to us like He gives. Someone just reminded me of that when I posted something so similar a few days ago.
robin recently posted..a day at the races

alita April 18, 2012 at 10:26 am

If we ever stop questioning our methods or even our day to day complexities it would be a complete lack of mothering on our part. This resonates. The anxiety. The quickness to respond. The patience. The 398 i love yous. The self-criticism. They are just all encompassing aspects of being a loving and supportive mother. It is good to question and doubt if at the end of the questioning you pull up your sleeves and do what needs to be done out of love.

I get this.

Beautiful post!
alita recently posted..Over and over again {Six word friday}

cassie April 18, 2012 at 10:33 am

This brought tears to my eyes! Its so right on! Mommy is the hardest job title you can have there is no greater responsibility in life and the pressure is enough to make u lose ur mind! We have to remember to give ourselves a break and breath!

Jenny April 18, 2012 at 10:59 am

I so needed to hear these words today. My oldest told me that I could get the family to listen if I wasn’t so grumpy all the time. It was a kick in the pants, and it hurt to hear it. Especially when my anxiety had been at bay for a while. She knows how much I love her. Thank you for reminding me of that.
Jenny recently posted..A revelation

kendal April 18, 2012 at 11:00 am

i only know you from your blog, but i know this. you are a great mom. you are a godly mom. you are a mom who overcame addiction to be the mom god made you to be. i am stopping to pray for you right now, b/c i know these feelings of defeat and fatigue. praying for you to know peace today.
kendal recently posted..an early morning question

Peg April 18, 2012 at 11:48 am

Oh how many times a day do I bash myself for turning into this mom/aunt that I dont’ want to be. How do I explain to the kids that I’m completely overwhelmed by their needs, our family, my grief and just plain sucky parts of life? It’s not their fault, but they seem to get the brunt of it. Liam even made a video on his leappad called “grumpy mommy.” Funny, but it hurt so much.

You are a good mom. You’re also a real mom.

Thanks as always for your great words.

Hang in there.

Laura April 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Thank you, Heather! I think we all go through this, we all doubt ourselves, we all beat ourselves up, and very few of us say.it.out.loud. because we fear judgement, even though we all feel this way! I’m not always the Leave it to Beaver mom, because I am reality. I find myself wishing my kids could just grow up and understand what it’s like to never ever ever get to leave your job (because even if I’m out with friends, we talk about our kids, and they just exist with every single hearbeat, so that I’m never really without them). Then I curse myself for wishing their precious childhoods away! Rock on, Sister! We’re all in this together!!

Amber @Beyond Postpartum April 18, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Thanks for sharing so honestly. The vicious cycle of our moods and behaviors because of depression and anxiety followed by the guilt and then the response to that guilt. Yuck. But, being a good mother despite all of that and then being able to acknowledge and celebrate it. Rocks.

Andrea April 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm

You have such a good soul. I’m so glad I get a glimpse into it through your writing. I have so many days like this. If I could be that mom I thought I would be, then I guess that would mean life would be perfect all of the time. But there would be so much about myself and my kids I would have never learned.

maura April 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm

this exactly! thank you! thank you!
maura recently posted..just breezy

Erin April 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Sending hugs and reminders that indeed you are a good mom. Dare I say, a great mom. I’m fairly certain you just reminded every reader here the same thing :)
Erin recently posted..Swinging Into Spring…err..Summer

Ann April 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I haven’t read all the other comments, but I’m willing to bet they said the same thing, and I know you already know this–especially b/c you’re a social worker.

It’s precisely because he’s so secure in his attachment to you and of your love for him and his for you, that he has the confidence to speak his feelings so directly. Because of you and the amazing mothering and Heathering that you do. That my friend is the truth. And I love you.
Ann recently posted..The Accidental Directress

The Mommy Psychologist April 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm

This is heartwrenchingly beautiful. And I completely understand because I have been there myself. Even if it is biochemistry, it doesn’t make the pain any less. In my own struggles with depression, I sometimes wish that it wasn’t biochemistry because then it would be easier to do something about it. It’s really hard when you get to the place where your mind has ran away from you and you can’t get it back. Just remember that it will pass. It doesn’t feel like it will, but it will pass. And you are a good mom. Bad moms don’t even worry about being a good mom!
The Mommy Psychologist recently posted..Kindergarten Tantrum Results in Handcuffs

monica April 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm

oh your words! huge love for you.

“I am too in love with grace for that.” …this string of words? perfect.

Meg April 18, 2012 at 6:12 pm

I think this is one of the parts of motherhood that we don’t always acknowledge. I have certainly gone through the over thinking, and have been heart broken by honest declarations made by my little one. The older she’s gotten, the more obviously pointed those statements become and the less sensitive I am to them. My confidence has grown, as well, and yours will too as your small children mature into their pre-teens and you can see the personalities gel and that the lessons you’ve tried to teach are being heard. Even though I don’t know you, the fact that you think and over think and worry and try lets me know that you ARE a good mother, and your babies know it too.

Julia April 18, 2012 at 9:56 pm

I love this and you. You are a good mother. This is just really hard. Really, really hard.
Thank you for sharing this piece of your heart.
Julia recently posted..A Whole New World

Lindsay @lilloveandluck April 18, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Get out of my head.
Except you make the words in there much prettier than I could.

Elaine April 18, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Sometimes I wonder how our mothers “made it through” without reading things like this and relating to THIS. I don’t think they talked about it like we do now. And I’m so glad we do.
Elaine recently posted..The trip was totally worth it for the cake and hugs

Galit Breen April 19, 2012 at 6:44 am

I get this.

From the quiet to the cry to the howdidigethere.

I get this.

Beautiful, as always, you.
Galit Breen recently posted..Raising Kick Ass Girls

Mirjam April 19, 2012 at 7:04 am

You connected with me from the very first sentence.
I know how this feels, all off it. Lately I’ve been seeing more of me.
More of a mom who has the energy and patience to deal with her three kids.
But then there are the days, I wish they would just leave alone, that someone could just take over for me..
Thank you for being so honest and writing it all down, beautifully.
Mirjam recently posted..Dirt and flowers

Erin April 19, 2012 at 7:58 am

When I was deep in the midst of sleep deprivation, I used to fantasize about checking into a hotel. Bringing a loud fan and my own blankets and pillows. Turning off all the lights. Putting up a do not disturb sign. Sleeping in a dark, quiet room for as long as I possibly could. It was such a strong yearning that I could feel it, taste it even.
This too shall pass. You are a good mom and those boys (and girl!) know it.
Erin recently posted..Three-Zero

MidnightCafe April 19, 2012 at 9:03 am

Oh, Heather! Our children live so much in the moment. Their own feelings are so big that they can’t see past them. I believe, I believe, I believe that they have a deep knowing that we love them, that they have it in their core…and yet, on the surface, some moments all they can see is grumpy & tired. They are often the grumpy, tired ones. They know we love them or they wouldn’t complain about grumpy and tired. If they were worried and insecure and didn’t trust, they wouldn’t be able to speak their big feelings out loud.

You are a fantastic mom. I know this. I know because I know how fiercely you love your children, how deeply you’ve forged connection with them. I know that they know.

Peace, Friend. You are who you are, and we love you that way.
MidnightCafe recently posted..Starting with 86…

Sommer April 19, 2012 at 6:27 pm

I always babysat. I sat at the kids table until I had kids. I became a teacher. I taught preschool. I thought I would have 12 children and love being at home taking care of my home, my husband and babies. I thought this. I tried this. It did not work out this way. It was hard to conceive. It was then hard to be up all night and be a mom and live up to my own expectations. I had a picture in my head – I think we all do. Those childhood dreams and thoughts of how it will be or should be. Fantasy. Reality smacks us in the face and we feel as though we have failed.

No. I have not failed. You have not failed. We have beat ourselves up and that picture in our pretty little heads – we need to rip it up. Take a new photo. A realistic one.

I feel your heartache so deeply to my core. I want to reach through my computer and hug you.

Embrace the mother you are. Love your children and be the best mother to them you can be and that will remember this. If you live for the mother you think you should be or expect yourself to be based on that old image the disappointment will shine through and that is the reflection your son commented on – not who you really are or the mommy he knows and loves.

I say this because I am trying to rip up my pictures and create a new mental album that is real and not fantasy. Peace.

Suzin April 20, 2012 at 10:34 am

No words….just wow, and exactly, and AMEN…..and all of that…

Thank you thank you thank you

Katherine @ Postpartum Progress April 20, 2012 at 11:09 am

Oh gosh Heather. I really have just … I think I’ll sit here and cry.

I love you girl.
Katherine @ Postpartum Progress recently posted..Postpartum PTSD: Still Fighting To Heal From Her Traumatic Delivery

Andrea Livingston April 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm

You are teaching your children self-awareness, honesty, how to overcome things, horrible things…and move on with the ability to express themselves with grace and dignity. They know you love them. You are amazing.

Robin | Farewell, Stranger April 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm

There is a band that connects mothers – an invisible one that loops across our tight shoulders and circles our held breath. We are connected because we are the same and for that, at least, I am grateful.

Beautiful, Heather.
Robin | Farewell, Stranger recently posted..In the Softening Light

charrette April 24, 2012 at 2:13 am

Amen to every word here. I CRAVE silence. And it’s so very hard to come by.
I have had similar “grumpy” conversations with my children. One I still remember from when my daughter was five. Another from last night, and now she’s seventeen. One thing I know: The brokenness is part of the plan and the process. Thank heaven so is the grace!
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