I posted this originally 3 years ago, but it was incomplete. I really thought I had taken ownership of myself, my parenting, my children, and my happiness but while I made a solid effort, it would be inaccurate for me to leave this post dated 3 years ago. I had a lot of learning, a lot of growing, and still had some old insecurities to beat out. So here is an updated repost with love and honesty. Happy New Year!
I have finally faced that imaginary wall we place up in the moment we become parents. It’s littered with comically inaccurate specters aimed at haunting us with the unwritten codes to “parenting correctly”. They advise us on the “dos” and “don’ts”, “acceptable” and “misguided”, “rights and wrongs” at the complete refusal of the INNATE urges we feel as parents towards our children. They are the voices that tell me that homeschooling Corwin is going to ruin him forever, that if I have a glass of wine I will poison my nursing 5 month old, that missing my former self in her former life makes me a bad parent because being a mother is ALWAYS wonderful and why on Earth would I need company or activities that don’t involve my children…
I have felt a deep, ceaseless guilt for my self perceived incompetency as a parent. I place ridiculously high (and at most times unachievable) goals for myself. Corwin didn’t spend enough time with me as a baby, I didn’t have my natural birth with him (instead I had a 21 hr long labor, 14 of which drug free before I succumbed to the epidural), and didn’t breastfeed him as I was 18 yrs old, my mother didn’t breastfeed me, and I didn’t even know what a lactation consultant was. I have been plagued by these decisions ever since they happened, every single day, and have made myself my own harshest critic. I was not the parent I wanted to be. I was not the mother I dreamed of being. I had failed…. before I had even gotten started.
These feelings never let up. As Corwin’s problems progressed, I blamed myself for not having enough foresight, for not being educated enough, for not being “there” enough. How dare I have taken a night off every now and then when he was a baby, how dare I have fed him nonorganic baby food, and OMG DID I CAUSE HIM TO HAVE AUTISM (gasp). The voices continued through other people… People who told me I didn’t care enough about him, that I needed to suck it up and finish school, that I needed to be MORE selfless, try harder, work harder, WHAT was I doing out drinking on a weekend (shock!). I also fought the conflicting voices telling me that it was okay to take a backseat to parenting, as I was only [blank] years old!
And then I told all those voices to fuck off.
That’s right. I’ve reached that point. The only voices of value in this world are my own (when they aren’t teaming with the angry and insecure remnants of others opinions of myself) and those of my beautifully flawed children. It has been a long, hard road. I have made numerous mistakes, ones I can never take back. But I have learned that your role as a parent is never fixed, just like your identity as a person is never truly set. I am constantly evolving, maturing, and learning and dammit if I have to live in the shadow of my poor decisions forever. Dammit if I spell “Damn it” wrong. Fuck me if my grammar isn’t perfect. Because I do what I want, I follow what I feel, and I love what I love and do what I do so imperfectly in a perfect way for me because it’s MINE.
Because I do.
I am a fearless lover of my children. I follow my instincts and trust my gut, better than I ever have, and it has yielded the best rewards an “uneducated”, “uncultured” girl like myself could ever hope for. I ultimately succeeded in my previously failed parenting goals with my daughter (3 and a half years old) and youngest son (6 months old). I breastfeed because it is a challenge I loved succeeding in. I do natural births because I wanted to enjoy the birth of my children rather than live in a drug induced nightmare that was my oldest sons’ birth. I learned from experience. Which brings me to my next critical realization…
Until you have walked in my shoes, or at the very least have birthed a baby, you are NOT entitled to an opinion. This has been one of the hardest lessons for me. I am a self admitted people pleaser. Others opinions of me MATTER, to an ABSURD degree, especially on things as important to me as my success (or perceived lack thereof) in parenting. I can’t count how many times I have had advice thrown at me, or judgment placed on me, by people who weren’t even parents, or people who were parents but in drastically different situations. I can honestly with 100% accuracy say I am finally over it.
And finally I have come to the realization with the help of reading a POWERFUL blog post on Renegade Mothering that I *am* a different person than I was 8 years ago. I was struggling with my mothering role in regards to my son. Torn. I was a very good mother, even by my own standards for the most part, but I was at an identity crisis. I wanted friends. I wanted a community. I wanted to be “liked”. And it all placed me in some very uncomfortable positions where I made some very poor choices that have affected who I have become today. I have realized that I am who I am… I believe what I believe and having no other friends than my children really isn’t so bad on most days. For the most part, I thoroughly ENJOY my life. And I don’t relate to other people around my age because other people around my age can’t relate to me being a parent and THAT IS OK. I don’t need to fit in.
Here is my New Year- I have grown to love myself in a more real way than I ever have. I have done it by becoming a mother that *I* am comfortable being. I have done it by finding and staying true to the voices in my head that make sense (in a non psychotic way). I value my voice because it is mine, and I am posting on here because IT is mine. I made this blog mostly for my own benefit, and if it isn’t valued by others that is ok with me. I’m not an expert on parenting, autism, or babies… but I am damn good at handling all three in my own way. So go me.