Last night I finally reached the moment in motherhood where I asked myself, “Can I really do this?” It took almost nine years to honestly ask that question of myself. Is this a good thing or not? I can’t say. Other times there was frustration, tears, and anger, but nothing like the pain of emptiness that occurred last night as I sat in my darkened closet, tears streaming, feeling completely defeated.
I’m embarrassed having to admit this failure. I believed in the saying that raising a child would be hard, but I never thought it would be this hard. The guilt, pain, self-doubt, that can follow some decisions made in regards to your child. It is the shittiest feeling to think you aren’t strong enough to be a mom.
I’m asking myself how I got to this point with no answers, only speculations of what I could have done better, changed, or not done. My daughter is very strong-willed and stubborn. This should have been apparent to me while she was in the womb when she fought me even then. If I laid on my right side to sleep, she would kick non-stop until I switched sides. She loved to stretch and stick her foot into my rib cage. When I would push her foot down, she would push harder to keep her foot in the same place.
Some of the things that flashed through my mind last night as I sat alone, pondering my failure:
• Overindulging her: She is my only child. She does have a sister, but she is 10 years older and lives primarily with her mother. She is the only grandchild for my parents. All of our lives revolve around her and her needs. She does not have to share anything and wants for nothing.
• Too many options: This is where my husband and I have disagreed in the past. I give her choices for many things and let her make the decisions. My husband believes that in some instances this may be appropriate, but rare.
• Only child syndrome: This is related to the overindulging. She has no siblings to share with, fight with, or build patience with.
As I sit here and type 24 hours later, I am no closer to answers. I still hurt and doubt my ability to be a good mom. My mind has raced with things I should have done differently, but since I’m lacking a time machine, things in the past have to stay there.
Our day passed without incident. Our interactions short and few throughout the day, which leaves me wondering if she feels even a portion of the pain that I have carried all day. I continue trying to numb the feelings that insist on surfacing, and plastering a smile on my face so it does not make my husband and daughter uncomfortable with the inner turmoil. I wish my mind would settle and let me feel a little peace.
The distance I am keeping from my daughter feels unnatural, but a necessity for me to navigate these uncharted waters. Where did I go wrong or did I go wrong? I don’t think that I am at the point yet where I can answer this question.
What I can answer . . . my daughter is her own person and I am here to guide her into becoming a caring, responsible, productive adult. It is my job. My responsibility. I chose to have a child and the burden lies solely with my husband and I. Even though we are ultimately responsible, I am very lucky to have a very strong network of family and friends to help me through the difficult times. My parents help guide her, listen and advise me, and mirror consequences at their home since she spends so much time with them. My friends were there supporting me with encouraging words to build me back up.
So I sign off with questions, uncertainty, pain, and emptiness, but a new respect for motherhood. I will continue this journey for the rest of my life and I have just hit a low point. The only way to go now is up.
I wrote this over three years ago. Has it been any easier you ask? Truthfully, yes and no. There have been other doozys that have knocked me down again, but knowing a calmer time is just beyond this storm has helped settle my mind. I have also found a bigger tribe to lean on. I have made friends with parents who have kids the same age as my daughter. Knowing we are all struggling at times helps keep the sanity. Us parents just have a front row seat to the kids struggling to learn autonomy, navigate increased hormones, push boundaries, school, grades, peer pressure, etc. We need to be strong for them so they ultimately are the kind, hard working, dedicated young adults we want them to become.
So be strong and know you are not alone. Remember, people like to paint the pretty picture, but it isn’t always so.
Tori Alvarez is a mom, wife, high school educator, and indie author of Naive in Love. This is her debut novel which can be found exclusively on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited. You can follow her adventures in life on Instagram or Facebook @mstorialvarez.