Not what I thought
It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote this post and I still can’t quite get over the incredible and supportive comments left in response. I didn’t think before writing this – just poured it out and then had to summon up all my courage to hit the ‘publish’ button. Thank you so much.
My friend Scary Mommy is running a ‘Search for a Scary Mommy’ contest:
What is a Scary Mommy, you ask? I believe a Scary Mommy is a mother who doesn’t leave the house wearing lipstick at all times. A Scary Mommy loves her kids to death, but will admit to feeling totally overwhelmed and exhausted by the gig. A Scary Mommy doesn’t really care what other people think, and a Scary Mommy thinks that all mothers win when we admit our weaknesses.
I think this is my Scary Mommy post.
I hope you who are reading it for the first time can relate to it – seems like a lot of my regular readers could. And hearing that “yeah me too” made me feel more ok with myself than I had done for a long time.
Thank you for listening x
Before I had children I had an assumption about how it would go, how I would feel.
I would love them. I would love them totally, utterly, unconditionally. My patience would know no bounds, my selflessness would be instinctual and ungrudging. This magical connection would happen instantaneously the second I clapped my eyes on them and it would last a lifetime. No challenge would be too big, no detail of their lives would be too small or go unappreciated.
I never knew it would feel like THIS.
I read a post by a fellow blogger recently that made me cry. The lovely Insomniac Mummy wrote a beautiful piece about the love she feels for her son, describing unconditional love and the many perfect intimate moments between the two of them. It was the kind of love that I had dreamed about having with my child.
But it made me cry because I found it hard to relate to the way she felt, the feelings she described.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love Kai. Oh god do I love that boy. In fact I completely under estimated just how much I would love him – it has knocked me sideways these last 15 months. It is almost painful the deep love I feel for him; that tangible connection I feel to him; that sense that he is mine; as much part of me as my own head and as essential and fundamental to my existence as breathing.
And yet it is not a fairytale love. At times it is dark, it is agonising, it unravels me and balls me back up again over and over, every minute of every day. It has changed me, and continues to change me. Challenging the very nature of who I thought I was. For although I feel that deep sense of connection, that feeling of ‘knowing’ him so completely, at the same time he sometimes feels like a distant, unreachable, unknowable mystery that I will never fathom. He is separate to me in a way that is isolating and confusing.
I don’t know how to be a good mother to Kai. That is the truth of the matter. Since the very first day he was born he has pushed the limits of my patience, tolerance and empathy, descending on our lives with the force of a unstoppable hurricane, turning our heads and our hearts upside down. His needs have always been so intense, so uncompromising. My whirling ball of energy and curiosity, forward motion and fierce independence, uniquely co-existing with a fundamental dependence and need for closeness, contact and comfort that I never could have imagined.
Sometimes it is so easy to love him, with his infectious smile and spark that has everyone around him glowing. His affectionate, attentive nature, constantly surprising and delighting us with the strength of his personality; his dogged refusal to be anything but himself.
But at other times it is not so easy. The battles and the refusal to compromise, expressed through tears and screams and bites and flails and fights. The unrelenting neediness and constant demand. These are the times where my love for him is tested, where my worth and suitability as a mother is brought to bear.
I feel I fall short in these moments. I try, god only knows I try and I push through it, but dealing with the inevitable feelings of anger, impatience, frustration and failure are some of the hardest tests of character I have ever had to face.
And yet. There are moments of stillness. Moments of tired heads rested on laps, of soft hair and soft cheeks. Of little hands that seek out and grasp my own, holding on with a tenderness and a pure need that melts my pain away. Of intimate smiles and tender kisses, of foreheads that fit with perfect synergy into the nape of my neck and I know that there is no where, no when I would rather be, or am meant to be. Right here, right now; holding desperately on to this boy I love so much and wish I knew how to mother.
I wouldn’t change him. Not one tantrum or one sleepiness night. I honestly wouldn’t. He is perfect in his imperfection, in his complexity. He fills me with both awe and bafflement and pride in equal measure. And the fact that I get to be the one to watch him grow and mature and learn and develop feels like a privilege and a gift I would never pass over.
So no. I do not have a fairytale love for my boy. I cannot hold up as a bright example as do some mothers that I so admire seem to able to do with so much integrity and conviction. But it is unconditional. If only because I fight so hard to make it so, because I refuse to let it be any other way, however much it tries to pull me off course. It does not come easily. But it does come – I hope that is enough.
The eloquent Nobel Savage tells me it gets easier. She too faced dark places in her journey with her girl and she’s stepping blinking through the tunnel and out the other side.
I hope so.
But in the meantime I am happy to be here. Happy to be on this adventure with my beautiful, perfect little monster.
I really am.