“I wasn’t a good mom tonight. I need a break.”
I sent that text to my partner tonight, and I felt horrible as the thought entered my mind, as I typed it and even worse – as I sent it.
- Not loving the baby as much as my toddler
- Losing my bond with my toddler
The first was never an issue. The moment I heard my daughter cry I fell in love, and my heart is overwhelming with love for both of my girls. The second fear, however, is my current reality.
A week before I gave birth to my baby an acquaintance told me, “Your relationship with your first child will change.”
Well no shit. Next you’ll tell me that C-sections suck and the Pope is Catholic.
But that was always really my biggest fear – not having the energy to maintain my special relationship with the Child. My partner and I have been so careful to say things like “Just a minute.” versus, “I can’t help you right now because I’m doing x, y, z with the baby.”
I’ve been the mother of two for four weeks and four days, and I need a break. Admitting this makes me feel like a failure. When I say I need a break, I don’t mean anything long – three hours to myself to sleep, recharge and spend a few quiet moments alone would do the trick. If I’m being 100% honest, an entire day – sun up to sun down – would be even better.
I’ve been blessed with the company of family and close friends since the birth of my daughter, with a few days throughout to myself to learn my new routine and enjoy my family. But today, I’m run down. I’m exhausted, and overwhelmed with guilt.
After a peaceful day at home, laughing, playing and reading quietly, the evening ended with the toddler defying me (once again). I expected her to act out when the baby came home, but I expected it to happen right away. Instead, it took two weeks, and she only acts out against me – mom – not dad.
Sleep deprived and frustrated, I sent her to bed with no dinner, I made her put her jammies on herself, and I didn’t even say goodnight or tell her I loved her. Oh, and she cried herself to sleep. (I’ll collect my Mother of the Year Award later.)
I’ve reached my new low in parenting.
I know this will get easier, and I know this phase will pass between the Child and me – but knowing all of this doesn’t make right now any easier.
As I’ve said before, I’m blessed with great friends and family. One friend in particular, who we’ll call “Kay”, is one of my “real” moms. She gives it to you straight, and you never feel guilty for admitting your parenting secrets (and failures) to her.
Recently she told me -
Part of being a good mom is worrying about how to be a better one.”
Why do we (I) put so much pressure on ourselves? I feel so guilty for putting my infant in her swing so I can have two minutes to myself. “I should be holding her,” I tell myself.
This is where “Kay” steps in.
The more I speak with REAL moms – the ones who tell the truth, haven’t showered and have given their children an Oreo once or twice – the more I realize that the first weeks/months are about shear survival. Then you start to get ‘the hang of it’. It’s hard when you take being a mommy seriously.”
I know it gets better, and I know the village that’s helping me raise my children is amazing and that I’m not alone (Let me be very clear that my partner has been and is an amazing support). But just for tonight, I’m going to be “real” and tell you I need a break, and I’m terrified that I’ve ruined my relationship with my toddler because of the terrible way her night ended.
I’ve been wanting to write about this since I read Fat Mum Slim‘s take on the subject in late March. Since then, the definition of success has come up quite frequently in random conversations and even in a portion of the book I’m currently reading. I took these as signs to take a heartfelt look at my life and how I would define the word.
I loved Fat Mum Slim’s definition:
“It’s laughing with my husband and getting butterflies when he comes home from work. It’s having a healthy daughter who is happy and loves me back.”
Much like all other mommy guilt (self-inflicted), I find that defending or defining why some of us do what we do is always challenging – because of the judgment we feel from other parents and the guilt we impose on ourselves. And because of that, our definitions of success will vary greatly. There is no right or wrong answer.
As I prepare for baby #2 and continuously strive to strike a balance between my professional life and personal life, the definition of success has been weighing heavily on my mind. I’m just wrapping up the first chapter of Eat, Pray, Love. The author is struggling with her decision to leave a marriage, not have children and still feel like she fits into society.
“First you are a child, then you are a teenager, then you are a young married person, then you are a parent, they you are retired, then you are a grandparent – at every stage you know who you are, you know what your duty is and you know where to sit at the reunion.”
But what if you don’t “fit in”? What if you never have kids? Have a high-paying job? Get married? How do you measure your “success”?
I genuinely love what I do professionally, and I know that in order for me to be a good parent, I need to work. I need that balance. This doesn’t mean I don’t miss my daughter or have days where I feel overwhelming guilt. But for now, it’s the right balance for me.
I envy my parent friends who only work a few days a week – “They have the best of both worlds!” I often think. Similarly, I admire my friends whose full-time job is being a parent. That has to be the toughest job in the world.
uccess for me means having a healthy family; love and peace in my home; learning to love myself completely and raising happy kids.
How do you define success?