I had started on a post about good/bad baby products for today, but honestly I can’t get through it. I am having a “down” day, which is code for a day where my depression and anxiety is causing me to struggle with personing. I have had struggles with depression and anxiety since I was pretty young, and some periods have been worse than others. Being a mom has, unfortunately, triggered a lot of my mental health issues because of the constant feeling of not-enoughness that pervades a mom’s day to day living.
Yesterday was a bad day. I looked around my kitchen and couldn’t make myself do dishes. Which, of course, triggered feelings of failure because I was being “lazy” and couldn’t do what I feel is an expected bare minimum for me when I’m home all day. I was a miserable ball of grump when I went to a pilates class and found out that it wasn’t pilates but *GASP* *HORROR* a barre class instead (“I didn’t come here expecting to do SQUATS for heaven’s sake” she says to the clearly offended instructor) making me feel like a huge bitch. I went to school to help with auditions where I knew I would be letting everyone down because I wouldn’t be able to help with the show the way I would have before I had kids. I was late getting home and didn’t have dinner ready. I was short tempered with my daughter. I was irritated with my son (Good Lord don’t you eventually reach a point of exhaustion where you just pass out? When the hell does that happen for a newborn?? He could seriously keep national secrets safe in the face of sleep-deprivation torture). I ate poorly because I had no energy and then hated myself for undermining my hard work to eat well for my health and milk supply. I grumped at my poor mother on the phone. I felt like a failure across the board. The voice in my head repeated it to me: all the ways that I had failed all of the people around me. I wasn’t giving enough to my kids, to my husband, to my family, to my job… and yet I felt like I had nothing else I could give… so clearly, I’m just not ENOUGH.
Yeah. It was a bad day. Depression, added in to the relentless erosion of parenthood, can be a beast.
In particular, it was my daughter I felt that I was failing. I looked at her and someone else had put her hair in a ponytail (some well-meaning daycare working) and she had on dirty clothes with her runny nose and her perpetual daycare cold and I was crushed by the feeling that I was letting her down as a parent. And even with that knowledge, I couldn’t stay patient with her when we were eating dinner (I spent seven damn minutes grilling this steak and you “no want meat”?!).
I was in tears by bedtime. Not because of her – she is amazing – but because of me. She’s TWO, dammit. She wants to play hide n seek instead of putting on her pajamas; she doesn’t understand that I can’t help open the blue playdough when both of my hands are full, and she can’t help it that she can repeat the same sentence – “mommy help with boo paydough? mommy help with boo paydough? – a thousand times without realizing that she’s going to break me. I came in to her room for the bedtime routine secure in my knowledge that I am a BAD MOM.
We are lying in her bed, reading her story (“David’s Father” by Robert Munsch right now) and I’m lying next to her, with my head propped up on my hand while daddy reads and she yells out the parts that she knows. All of a sudden, in one of those purely spontaneous moments that only kids seem capable of, she reaches a chubby little arm out and puts it around my neck. She pulls my head down onto her tiny chest – I can hear her heartbeat like a butterfly through her fleece puppy pajamas – and she puts her sweet little lips on top of my head and says, entirely unprovoked, “I happy mommy.”
I am not enough. I never will be. I will never be enough to deserve the love that my daughter has for me… I will never deserve the way she looks to me when she needs reassurance… the trust she feels looking at me. That’s a form of grace, you guys. Undeserved, needed, precious beyond belief. It makes my not-enoughness enough.