I grew up in a single parent home so my only depiction of motherhood was watching my mom. I would see the moms on my favorite television shows and realize quickly that my mom was nothing like them and my house did not look like those. That was okay though because my mom worked her ass off to take care of me without the help of my father. I’m sure that was easier said that done considering I was born in 1981.
It is alway funny to hear people say, “Tilya, you look just like your mother.” My knee-jerk reaction is to respond, “Who in the hell else am I supposed to look like.” But I just nod and smile.
The parallels in my mom’s life to mine is underwhelming because we made different choices in careers, and marital statuses, but the love she had for me as a child is the same love I share for my children. Not to speak ill of my mom, but watching her work as hard as she did, I promised myself that I would have better career choices. However, when I was at my lowest so was my motivation. I could not give up, but I wanted too.
When my oldest son was in kindergarten, his father and I had recently separated. Marriage is hard, but when it is not working, it may be time to let it go. But he was a talkative little lad, and knew a lot for his age because we always talked to him, never gibberish. Well one day he told his teacher, “My mom cries a lot a night.” Imagine how surprised I was when the teacher said this as his father and I sat in a parent/teacher conference. My eyes immediately welled with tears because I was carrying mom-guilt.
Looking into someone’s face everyday, you have no idea the heaviness that they are carrying deep down inside. The brokenness someone feels when they tried to do everything right but felt like they were coming up short every single time. I can only imagine the pain my mother felt doing it alone as I struggled to start my life over absent of my husband. I was 27 years old, a year or two out of the Air Force and adjusting to my second year of teaching. My plate was FULL. However, when I was at my lowest I could not give up, but I wanted too.
Hindsight is often 20/20. My mom was tired, I mean, at the age of five I had a key to the apartment and let myself in each day waiting for her to get home from work. The term then was latch-key kid, but you do that nowadays and you’ll be in jail. It is amazing the lengths mothers go through to make sure that their children feel cared for, loved and protected. Again, I watched my mom do it alone for me, so I put that same energy into my sons.
Pushing through seems to be second nature for moms because even when we are tired, we take care of our children sometimes before we take care of ourselves. We shrink behind our kids not even realizing that we are neglecting ourselves. We get tired. We take things personally while co-parenting. We are irritable from lack of rest. We cry at night when we feel misunderstood because in my private conversations and attempts to get our points across, the blame is shifted. I cannot even begin to count the number of times I was told, “If you’d just listen and shut up”, as if that was effective communication. It is draining to this day and was draining at the time of my separation.
My mom never got married so getting married then divorced for me was a big deal. I was embarrassed because what if people look at me like I am the problem in my marriage when there needed to be more compromises. What if as a mom, I’m failing my kids the same way I failed my husband as a wife? All of these transitions as a mom wore on me emotionally and mentally. I was at my lowest. I could not give up, but I wanted to.
There have been too many times in the past few years that I questioned my own authority in and of my life. This is not to negate other people’s responsibilities and to say that my feelings are all that matter. But feeling helpless when you are trying your best takes a toll and makes you, a mother as I am, or anyone question your judgement. There’s no middle ground.
One minute you’re a young mom trying to make things happen in a positive way while scared at the same time. Next minute life has taught you many lessons and you find a way to balance what you thought you knew with what you have learned. As with anything in life, becoming a mother is an ongoing learning experience. Let’s face it, we know nothing when we start and we know not a thing about our children with each mistake they make as well as our own mistakes.
The mindset of a mother is to continue in times of uncertainty, recharge when we need to, and remember who we are when we forget that being a mom is not our only job. Mom guilt is real especially when you want all of the answers but your only option is to keep trying. Moms are their kids superheroes. We often strive to prove to our kids that we can do anything, so we do.