I read a post this morning by JJ at Gaining Balance about her relationship with her father. She told how as a teenager she overheard her parents arguing, during which her father told her mother he felt trapped, and that this was not the life he wanted. My heart went out to her, because I understand firsthand how badly angry words yelled in the heat of the moment can scar a child’s self-esteem. Whether or not he meant it to be about his children, hearing it caused her a lot of pain, and I hurt for her on that. On that same post, Oh, the Joys left a comment how she does feel trapped sometimes, and feels like just running away. This hit a nerve with me, and I felt compelled to bring it here.
I remember one day about a year ago, my kids were having a bad day. Not an unusual thing here, but it was coinciding with and escalating my own bad day, and any mom can tell you that’s just a recipe for disaster. The worse they acted the worse I felt, and before I knew it I had a complete and total meltdown. If there had been any chance or way of leaving at that particular moment without my children getting hurt or being left alone, I probably would have done it. But there wasn’t. Instead I turned on a dvd for the kids, went into my room, and locked the door. From there I went into my bathroom and locked that door too. I sat on the floor and cried like the world was ending. I couldn’t take it anymore, and I just. wanted. out. This was not the life I signed up for.
It sounds horrible doesn’t it? Or does it, really? What mother out there hasn’t at some point felt so completely overwhelmed and unsure of herself, she wonders if maybe she’s made a mistake? A rare one to be sure. I think we all hit that rock bottom of motherhood once in awhile. Being a parent is not something that is taught to you so much as it is on the job training. Imagine putting a scalpel in the hand of a med school student on their 1st day of class and telling them they now must do brain surgery, and they are fully responsible for the life of that patient. It would never happen. Yet being responsible for the life, the welfare, the raising of a child is no less difficult, and the best we can hope for is a recommendation on the right parenting book to read. The stakes are high, and we think we should go through this will perfect grace and never falter from the path of perfect parenthood. We have that image in our heads of what parenting *should* be like, and we are shocked and confused when the Baby Story life scenes are not what we experience. In that regard having kids is the worst kind of bait and switch.
I did eventually come out of the bathroom that day after a long talk with a good friend. Sometimes it takes reaching out like that to get us back on level ground. I felt a little better, although convinced then I was the worst mother in the world. Yet another way blogging has helped me, I’ve since read other stories of mothers who have bottomed out that way, and come to understand it doesn’t make me a terrible mother. If anything it’s made me more aware of the pressures I put on myself, and made me understand my own limitations. I can now recognize it’s time to spend a few minutes alone, or call a friend, or get out of the house. Whatever it takes to get myself back in the right mindset and back on track to be the good mom I know I am, even if I make mistakes along the way.