Working with my hands
Updated: Aug 16, 2020
So before the pandemic came into view and we were all supposed to stay home I was already feeling a little pent up anxiety and directionlessness (not a real word). After having my second baby and being at home with her most of the time, I was getting pangs of who-the-hell-am-I-anymore and feeling like a milk machine/house cleaner (milk maid?). For me I love being at home with my kids. I love that I am so situated, that I can spend lots of time with them and watch them grow and other than my sobriety, being there for my kids is my number one priority. But there are times when you've been stuck in the dark ages of diapers, endless laundry, and little plastic toys and you need to come up for air. These dark ages I've heard go on for a few years too. I was told that when the youngest turns 4, you will emerge back into the world, and though you may be a little less adept socially, you will reemerge to find that life has in fact, continued on and you might even *gasp* get to do some things on your own again.
I was not going to make it. One of my friends put it like this "I'm a better mom, when I am working at least a little bit, or doing things for myself. I tried to be there 24/7 but I was not happy and in turn neither was everyone else." It gave me the breathing room I needed in the guilt landslide that is parenting to stand up and take a break. I've explained a time or two, that I had some pretty trying times in my childhood and one of the issues I faced was that my mother was not happy, especially it seemed, in the role of parent. I even asked her once (big mistake) if she could do it all over again, getting married, having kids etc, would she, and she said "no." ...Umm, come again? Now in her defense, she may have been having a crap day, or was tired of driving us around to yet another sports practice and needed a break herself and I caught her at the wrong moment. Another explanation is that she is bi-polar and could have been having a rough day with her mental health. My mother, does not remember this conversation btw, but her medications I think have messed with her memory because she remembers very little from my childhood. For me it was one of those defining moments of course. I also know too that our memories can be faulty and not even accurate, so who the heck knows, but my point is she was not happy, and it was really hard to be happy in the face of someone so unhappy and I really, really, really (not enough really's in the world) don't want my girls to live with an unhappy mother.
I want to note here, that a few years ago, that story about that conversation would have been fraught with resentment towards her and a lot of blame heading her way, but I have done a lot of trauma work, therapy, and inner work through meditation and realized that I am better in many ways and able to help others because of my childhood difficulties and feel I am a stronger person because of what I faced. I also know that growth and loving support can also make children better adults, and would not wish my past pain on anyone. I joke a lot that "I turned out okay, there was that whole rehab thing in the middle, but other than that, ship shape!" So anywho, that's where I'm at currently in my healing journey, pretty okay with it, all jokes aside.
But back to my girls. I have these two amazing daughters. My baby-baby just turned one yesterday and my first baby is 3. And they are so full of magic and love it is unbelievable most days. I don't feel worthy sometimes of the gift of getting to be their mom and I am so grateful the Universe saw fit to send them down to me. You know, that feeling as they're falling asleep, and you are looking at this perfect being so full of trust and love for you and you are so overcome with this expansive gratitude and awe for creation and all that is, but it is is also slightly crushing and you can't bear the weight of that immeasurable love so you have to just cry a little and try to deal with the reality of time once again? It is so powerful, it is almost too much and I also feel sad that my mother didn't get to experience this, or if she did that we haven't talked about it. And selfishly I feel afraid that I will somehow make them feel unsafe, or will repeat the cycle of unhappy mother with them. And I know I am not her, that I am consciously making an effort to cuddle, and be there, and say "I love you" as much as possible, all things I wanted but didn't get. And of course I worry about that too, that "what if I'm too much?" feeling.
So you can see, I wasn't going to make it to 4 years for the youngest without coming up for air a little sooner. I think that everyone has a bandwidth for other people's stuff. Whether you are a mother or a therapist or a dentist or whatever. Through nature and nurture you can handle taking on a certain amount of icky junk before you are done for the day. Your spiritual bank account is reading 0, nothing left in the tank. Now some people are just born naturally therapeutic and can handle anything that is thrown there way all day and night. I've known therapists like this, and to compare oneself to them is, in my opinion, futile. I always came up short. I also think if you are particularly good at self-care you can extend your bandwidth through things like meditation. With my children, I have a similar experience. Day one, I'm good, Day two I'm a little more zoned out and so on.
Having children did not change the fact that A) I'm still me and B) I still want to do things for myself. And I'm almost to the point that I'm not sorry about that. So I started living more authentically in line with who I feel I really am right now. That means, I started learning how to make pottery (very hard btw, people go to college for this), I have two large gardens that I am managing in an effort to grow food for my family (people also go to college for this, feeling a little buyers remorse I think), I make videos for the YouTube community and I'm writing (heeeey...also things ppl go to college for). I also manage the business with my husband, but that is his baby, so I play a mostly supportive role there. And we have hired help for our kids. The guilt creeps up, but so does the happy feelings of accomplishment that come with doing things I love, that are just for me. And when I go home, I'm happy to be with them. Tonight we are going to go to the beach at sunset and watch movies and make dinner and "go crazy" or have a dance party sing along to the Frozen 2 soundtrack. And it will be so full of love and I will try to hold back my tears of gratitude, but probably won't succeed. And when my daughter asks why I'm crying I'll tell her all my feelings of gratitude (she likes to hug me and hold my face when I cry and say "awww, it's okay"), and that I just love her so much.