So, when I first theorized this post, I was thinking of it being about me, as an individual turning 30. I have talked before (too often?) about coming out of a couple years of illness and small children, and I do often wonder if it is too late for me to ever carve out a life for me as “more than a mom.”
But then Halloween happened. Holiday season always puts me in a mind of “look at all the things we aren’t doing.” My children are very cheerful, grateful, unselfish children… and somehow that makes it worse? I feel like I should be doing so much more, so many fun things, and I keep falling short. They love it because they love everything! Will they still feel that way about their childhoods when they are my age?
I am going through all of the pictures for some projects going on (which includes a large “update on the kids” post tomorrow) and the feeling is compounded. Look at how small and squishy they were! Look at how much time has passed. I am stable with my health right now, but even still I just came off of 3 weeks being on/off sick because of a severe allergy turning into a respiratory/sinus infection (and this happens 2-3 times a year since we moved.)
It is always going to be something. On and off somethings. I get stronger, I do better, I move forward. I add more traditions, more snuggles, more books to the bedtime reading list. I add more things for me as my children spend more time away from me at school/with friends. I fight the desire to keep them close and homeschool, because I know that what is best for them is not me trying to make up for me (real or perceived) failings. Their early childhood was what is was. I am now leaving panicked and insecure chaos of babies and toddlers for the rushed and guilty chaos of school aged children.
In talking to friends, I am discovering that I am not a special snowflake in this regard. So many nights I wonder if I just lived a day my child will talk about in therapy 20 years from now. I hope that I have enough joy, enough love, enough humility to make up for them.
I don’t know how to reconcile these two desires, this wish to be “the best mom” and the “fulfilled individual” because I don’t even know what those things look like independent of each other. What does that even mean? Probably nothing. I do know it doesn’t do any good to look back in regret, and to look forward to anxiety.
I do my best to look back in joy at the good things we did, and to look forward in hope. I am learning to live in the present instead of just driving through, but also to not be angry at myself for doing that. I am practicing self forgiveness, and self love, but also self improvement and reflection. This isn’t about letting myself off the hook, it is about breaking cycles of shame and sadness. All of the pretty things and lovely experiences will not change a household of sorrow and regret.
When my girls look back, I know they will not remember me as perfect, but I want them to know they were cared for, loved, and cherished. I also want them to see a happy mother, because I know that what a model is what they will default to.