**Joining in Just Write today…because that’s the only way I can get it out.**
For 12 years now, I’ve had moments where I’ve felt horrible. Like the worst person in the whole world and especially the worst mother. Because I have days, sometimes multiple days, where I am positive that I am not capable of being Olivia’s mother. I can’t change one more diaper, I can’t clean up one more mess, I can’t entertain her through one more 2-hour doctor’s appointment, I can’t get her dressed one more time. I just can’t. And the thought runs through my head that not only do I have to do it today, I have to do it forever. And if today feels this terrible, how on earth will I do this forever?
And that, my friends, is reality. There are days when I can’t stand being her mother. Because it’s impossible. Because it’s too much. Because it’s so hellishly lonely sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe. And then that makes me feel like double shit. Because I love her more than anything in this world. I adore her. I would move heaven and earth for her. So why do I feel this way? Shouldn’t I be sitting around cherishing every word she says, every move she makes, every milestone she reaches because it’s all a miracle? And around and around I go. I love her, I worship her, I can’t stand her, I can’t do this, I give up. It’s a terrible circle to be in.
And then one day, as I’m reading Brene Brown’s words, I come across this statement she made about “Caregivers’ Shame”: We’re not monsters and we feel like this because we are human beings trying to manage a major life event with very little of the support and resources typically offered to people in crisis.
And even though she was talking about taking care of ill or aging parents, it slaps me in the face with the truth of it. With Olivia, I don’t get to be JUST her mother. I am also her caregiver. And that’s why I feel this way. Day in and day out for 12 years, I’ve been not only her mother, but her caregiver. Without fail. Without much help. Without many breaks. And all this time I’ve felt terrible for feeling this way about being her mother, when, in fact, I’ve been feeling this way about being a 24/7 caregiver. It makes so much sense.
It doesn’t change the fact that I had the shittiest day I’ve had in a while yesterday. That I barely made it through a 2-hour eye doctor appointment with my sanity in check. That I definitely grabbed Olivia by the arm and spoke to her through clenched teeth and the receptionist saw and gave me a hateful look. And that look made me want to scream at the top of my lungs that I’m a good mother, doing my absolute best, and I love this child more than anything in the world but I just had to change a diaper of a 12-year-old in a public restroom, had to keep her from licking the walls because she decided that’s what she would do today to drive me nuts, try to get her to cooperate with the eye exam, keep her entertained for 30 minutes while her eyes dilated, keep her from picking her nose and sucking her hands and inappropriately kissing the eye tech and answering her endless questions of when we get to leave. And now, we’re almost done, and I’m told she needs new glasses, which insurance won’t cover, and she’s crawling down the hall while I’m trying to pay our copay and schedule our next appointment and I just want to get the hell out of here, so I grabbed her by the arm and told her to sit through clenched teeth because that’s all I have. I have no discipline method that works with this child, and this probably won’t work either, but I’ve got to try. Because I’m going to lose it in front of all these people in 5 minutes if I don’t get the hell out. I am going to crumple to the floor in the fetal position and bawl my eyes out in front of these strangers and my daughter. And you know what my next thought is? I get to do it all over again tomorrow.
And that’s when I have to remind myself that it’s normal to not enjoy this day in and day out. Who would? That it’s normal to feel exhausted and spent and at the end of my rope. Because even though I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the whole world, being her mother and caregiver is a tough job. Very tough. Especially 12 years in when everyone’s gotten over the shock and awe and has kind of forgotten about this monumental task you’ve been given. And because I love her and adore her, I don’t ask for the help I need, or even take it when it’s offered. Because I don’t want you to see me as weak. I don’t want you to think that I don’t love her. I don’t want you to think that I don’t want to be her mother. I don’t want you to see my tattered superhero cape. Everyone always says “I don’t know how you do it” and most of the time I want to answer “I don’t either”. But instead I just smile and say “You would do the same for your child, too” because you would. But it sure as hell doesn’t mean that it’s not difficult. Every day.
I was afraid to write this post because sometimes the ugly truth can bring on some ugly comments. But I decided that it was more important to put it out there because if it makes one person feel less alone, I will be happy with that. Sometimes the truth is ugly, right?