Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thoughts on Mother's Day

Mother's Day was this past Sunday.  Mother's Day is bittersweet for me for a number of reasons.  Firstly, because I've always had a pretty rocky relationship with my own mom.  It used to weigh on me a lot.  I used to feel like there was something wrong with me that my mother couldn't love me in the way I needed her to love me.  She was always trying to change me, to push me to be more like my sisters, to make me someone she could understand and relate to better.  I used to feel like that was my fault.  Time has made me realize that it's just our dynamic and I waste a lot of energy mourning what I don't have, or trying to make myself someone that she can accept.  I've just tried to make peace with things as they are.  I still have a hard time with Mother's Day though, because I feel like no matter what I might say or do, it won't be "enough" in her eyes and I'll continue to be a failure.

Secondly, I have problems with Mother's Day because everyone keeps telling me "Happy first Mother's Day".  Except that this isn't the first.  I've been taking care of our foster daughter for several years now.  I've been the most constant and stable mother figure in her life for a while, and yet I have never gotten credit for the work I've done there.  Not from my family or friends, or from her.  I know that shouldn't bother me, but sometimes it does.  I've spent a lot of time, energy, and money investing in her well being and guiding her into a life that is better than the one she came from, but no one seems to think that's being a mom.  And I'm always at arms length with her, since her mother is still in the picture and she doesn't want to have to betray her mom by treating me like I'm also a mother figure, so it's uncomfortable.  She's sent my husband "Happy father's day!" messages for years, but I always fall short.  I'm a bit of an afterthought.  She'll realize she praised him and then come back and say "Oh yeah, sorry I forgot about you on Mother's Day".  It stings.  I won't pretend it doesn't.  It stings even more because it mirrors my own relationship with my mother, where I keep her at arms length.  It opens up a lot of fears about my relationship with my infant daughter, and how afraid I am that she's also going to keep me at arm's length and we will just continue this cycle.

I constantly worry about whether I'm enough for my daughter.  Whether I'm a good mom.  Whether I'll continue to be a good mom as she grows and changes, and as my role changes with her.  I love her.  I do.  I sometimes look at her and feel like she's the only thing I've gotten right so far in my life, that she is beautiful and perfect and that I haven't managed to screw her up yet.  I constantly worry that I'm going to screw her up.  I worry about whether I hold her enough, or play with her enough, or pay enough attention to her because I sometimes just have other things I need to do.  Sometimes I don't want to hold her.  Sometimes I want to just sit and watch tv while she plays on the floor.  I feel guilty for that.  I feel guilty for a lot of things.  I worry that every decision I make is terrible, and that she's just going to end up hating me.  I fear that I won't love her in the right ways.  I fear that I'll repeat some of my own mother's mistakes.  I fear that no amount of love can keep this stupid cycle from repeating itself.  I am not sure there's a time when I'm not worrying about something.  I want to be good at this.  I just know myself.  I screw up everything I touch.  I destroy all of my relationships.  I am "too high maintenance" or have "too much drama" in my life.  I start to feel, over time, that I'm just not worthy of a normal, healthy, loving relationship with others because I'm fatally flawed.  My husband is still around, but I always worry it's not going to last.  I have, throughout the course of my life, lost pretty much everyone I ever let myself be close to.  I am afraid to lose my daughter too.

So for now, I'll celebrate Mother's Day.  I'll look forward to those little kid years of paper flowers and cards made with finger paint.  I will love her, and I will love those Mother's Days, because I'm afraid a day will come when those things will disappear and I'll just get a quick text message she sends out of obligation.  I'm afraid for that day.


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