My honesty? I was surprised by her reaction to my confession. She wasn’t going to throw stones at me for admitting that, as much as I love my son, I am depressed with my current state of motherhood? She wasn’t going to report me to ACS for neglecting to read to him every day?
I was thrown for a loop: if therapists are human beings and human beings judge one another, why wasn’t my therapist being as judgmental of me as she could possibly be? Why wasn’t she admonishing me, as my mother does, for not thoroughly cleaning the awesome new secondhand stroller I bought for $15.00 from another mom at a neighborhood flea market? (We both wanted an upgrade.)
I reminded myself, again, that the adage “You are your own worst critic” is (mostly) true. Almost no one can punish me as harshly as I punish myself for my failings (real or imagined) as a mother.
Granted, I cannot walk the streets or shop in the supermarkets or ride the buses of New York City without some woman scolding me for Equis’ (my son is hence-forth named Equis, pronounced EH-kees) pacifier-usage or for letting him lean “too far” forward in his stroller (FYI, lady, he is NOT ‘holding on for dear life;’ he is excitedly observing the world around him.) I have been called a “terrible mother” on more than one occasion for giving a bottle to my son at 11:30 PM instead of forcing him to hungrily sleep through the night. (Damn you Doctor Lady from the Dream Sleep Team! Not only did your workshop cause a huge family argument in which everyone, not only my baby, cried, but you encouraged me to waste $11.00 on a Mini Sound Spa white noise machine which sits unused by his teethed-upon crib!) ...
I am not a bad mother. A bad mother is one who leaves her child, on a whim and without permission, at some family member’s house and doesn’t return for years or weeks or days. A bad mother is a woman who keeps her 15 pound, 4 year old daughter tied up to a bed with fishing wire so she can smoke crack with her boyfriend in peace. A bad mother ignores her significant other’s molestation of her son or daughter. I am NOT a bad mother.
I am a mother, however, who makes mistakes and feels natural human emotions: I have accidentally let my son pee through his pamper; I get angry when I have to wake up five minutes after falling asleep to soothe his crying; and I envy my friends for being able to follow their dreams while I put my graduate school plans on hold and look into my future with trepidation. I am a sad, exhausted mother who still thinks my son is fearfully and wonderfully made.
As much as I LOATHE single mommy-hood and feel anger towards my baby’s father for joking that he’s going to send me a card this Father’s Day (excuse me, where was the Mother’s Day one?) and wish upon the ache in my chest that I had an extra pair of loving hands to put Equis into (without me feeling burdensome) every time I want to shower or wash the dishes, I will NEVER regret becoming his mother.