Tag Archives: guilt

Being a mom (since it’s Mom’s Day)

The year I graduated college (2002–shhhhhh!) I kept probably my best journal to date.  It was this small, red, hard back journal with pretty kick ass quotes in it about love and passion and that stuff.  I really challenged myself in those pages more so than I have in any journals since.  I’ll chalk it up to my life being much more simplistic then but it’s definitely a vibration I want to climb back to again.

I digress…

I never remember writing about being a mom.  It wasn’t until after I had C (Christian–my amazing 10 year old young man) that I realized I gave voice to my desire to be a mom in that small red journal.  I wrote about knowing that I would be a mom one day.  I was excited to take care of a life and give back to the world.  I was very clear about my drive to be a mom.  I was almost shocked when I read the entry.  I didn’t remember writing it.  But it was right, I always felt like this was my path.  I was meant to be a mom.

There have been a few times over the years who have asked me where I see myself in 5, 10, 15 years… I always hate that question (way more than I should because it’s an important exercise).  But I was asked this question a lot in high school and college by teachers and administrators.  Oddly enough, I always saw myself as a single mom.  Is it because I was raised by a single mom?  Is it because I knew early on that how I’m programmed doesn’t make for a good wife?  Who knows… but I always pictured myself as a single mom when people who pose the question.  I was okay with it.

I now have been a mom for 10 years and time keeps slipping away from me.  There was a moment where I never thought I’d have a 2 year old because the parenting thing is so demanding at first.  But now the time flies by and I constantly struggle with forcing myself to truly sit back and be in the moment.  I struggle with remembering what really matters. I struggle with reminding myself that I said yes to motherhood to give back to the world and that takes raising a caring, loving, and creative boy.  I’m sure I’m not alone here.  I think once kids are born, moms inherit this 500lb slab of guilt because nothing will ever be good enough again.  But I’m not going to use this as an excuse.  It’s important to rip myself away from the homework, chores, and the day-to-day activities to really take stock of my bond with C.  I owe it to him to be present, calm, encouraging, nurturing, and curious.

Having a kid doesn’t unleash motherly instincts (unless it did for you and that’s awesome on your part).  It merely highlights who you are as a person.  I’ve grown just as much as C has in the past 10 years and I’m extremely grateful for those opportunities.  He inspires me to get it right.  Growing up there was an obscene emphasis placed on my mom giving up everything to raise my sister and I.  We were constantly reminded of that.  But, at the end of the day, kids never asked to be born and they certainly never asked to metaphorically take anyone’s life from them.  I didn’t give up anything for C.  He’s a huge part of my life but he’s not my whole life.  I don’t think he wants to be my whole life.  I love my relationship with him.  I feel like he knows me.  I feel like I know him.  It’s an awesome dynamic and I love seeing it develop as he gets older.

I’m not perfect but I’m getting closer each and every day.  I’m so fortunate to have a super awesome son by my side as we explore life.  I love being a mom and just like every other job I’ve ever been assigned to do, I’ll keep honing my craft and sharpening my skills.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there in amongst the internets.

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Personal Revolution

I’m not the first human being during these era to wake up and truly believe that there must be more to life… amirite?  For myself, I feel like I go through these cycles.  Things are going great.  Things are not going so great.  Things need to be torched to the ground so I can start over.  Things are getting better.  Things are going great.  Things are not going so great.  And repeat.

Maybe the torch thing is a bit dramatic for a 35 year old woman.

But the cycles keep going and it’s like I’m constantly on the prowl to figure out how to stop it and witness sustained long-term progress.  It’s been a favorite subject of mine in both my written (yes, still handwritten) journal and in my therapy sessions.  Typically I’m searching my life for a culprit or a knight in shining armor.  Every now and then, like a good little therapy attender, I look inward and start to take stock of what is really going on inside.  Both looking outward and inward for a cause or a catalyst come with traps, right?

The outward-looking trap is quite obvious… no one and nothing other than yourself will propel you to that life of sustained progress.  It’s not possible.  The perfect mate, the amazing job, financial security, supportive family, and whatever other external factors people dump into the “if only I had this, I’d be happy” category are all nice, but they do little to affect the internal barometer of success.

The inward-looking trap isn’t quite as obvious (for me, anyway).  I tend to cycle through my childhood, poor decisions, bad things that have happened to me, my failures, and all the ways I’m not measuring up to the person I believe I am.  So I get stuck there analyzing segments over and over again with no resolution.  I’m merely providing an avenue to give everything that’s wrong a stronger voice.  In many ways, I’m allowing the universe to kick more of the same my way because that’s what I’m drawing attention to, right?

So… the outward and inward approaches aren’t working.  What’s next?  Let a professional handle it.  I’m extremely fortunate to work with an incredible psychologist.  He has a phenomenal skill set and continues to push me in the best possible ways.  The issues I’m facing are deep and I’ve done everything I can to suppress my feelings and their real effects on my life.  Sure, I can meditate.  I can do yoga.  I can say positive affirmations during the day.  I can work to stop the negative chatter in my head.  I can smile more.  I can approach work with a confident attitude.  But these are the small changes.  This are mainly superficial.  It’s the underlying layer that needs the real work.

What does that mean?  How do I get there?  And more importantly, what do I do with it when I arrive?

I don’t know.  I’ve lived for many years by not showing up and certainly not taking any accountability for the path I’m on.  Substance abuse allows one to hit the reset button over and over.  It allowed me to reassign the blame.  I passed the guilt onto alcohol.  I checked out and decided that not feeling was more important that feeling anything negative.  And so here I am… I feel like an infant all over again.  I need to learn how to navigate the world around me but unlike an infant, I also need to learn how to navigate the past that haunts me–that underlying layer that has constructed this escape.

I’m terrified.  Being terrified is a feeling though, right?  I’ll start with that.

I am not perfect.

It doesn’t happen often but I guess it happens often enough for me to keep doing it.  My journal reads just like my 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th (you get the point) grade journals.  The same themes and issues pop up and really it’s where my thoughts on boys and the daily grind of life go to die.  But I keep at it, trudge through, because every now and then I have wonderful insights… this happened just this past Saturday night.

I was enjoying a fabulous single-mom night in and I took to the page and scribbled a ton of ink down. I was borderline manic.  I penned the line, “I am not perfect,” and was like an epiphany.  Simple, right?  I don’t think anyone believes they are perfect.  I certainly don’t.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still judge and hold myself to the standards of perfection.  I think that’s part of the guilt I wrote about recently and the standards we hold ourselves to as humans.  I don’t spend a lot of time admitting to my downfalls though and it’s not the most comfortable thing to lay down on paper–I can assure you that.

But that one line hit me like a ton of bricks.  I am not perfect.  In that one line I found myself holding myself in a place of tenderness.  I don’t do that very often.  I saw myself as a work in progress.  From there I could forgive and move past a few things.  I didn’t have all the answers and it was okay because I’m not perfect.  I wanted to run to the mirror and tell the girl in it that she was more than okay, that she was good.  I chickened out of the mirror part but I need to do that.  Saying things to yourself in the mirror is frightening but so f’n worth it.

That one sentence saved me in ways.  I combed through the past year.  It was a really tough year.  I walked away from a relationship that hurt me.  Sure, I told myself not to blame myself but I held some blame.  I was lied to, betrayed to in major ways, and found myself living a life of pure worry and anxiety.  I’m not perfect though and either is my journey.  It’s been that way for a long time but I’m okay.  So the revised sentence because, I’m not perfect and that’s okay.  My journey will never be perfect.  I was able to then look back at my life and celebrate my successes.  And giving myself some breathing room will allow me the space to cultivate more successes.  I can taste it.

I can’t control everything.  Now that I don’t have the worry of my past relationship I need a new way of building.  That got me thinking.  I’ve spent  a few years reacting and making decisions because I needed to make them.  I lost focus while on the defense.  That’s not what life should feel like, right?  So, it’s time to climb back into my imperfect skin and get down to Britta Business!  Let’s look at life through the Britta lens and make decisions from there.  I won’t be perfect.  Life will send me obstacles.  I will be hurt again.  I might fail.  But if I’m always perfectly Britta, I’ll be a better person because of those trials.

With fall comes Homecoming, right?  Fitting.

Guilt, Being a Helicopter, and Remembering 4th Grade

Do you remember 4th grade???  I do!  And I think that’s why I’m having such a hard time right now.

I’m a mom.  As soon as I found that out (yep, it was August 31st 2005 at 6pm on the dot) I was flooded with worry, panic, and GUILT!  It’s like the seed of guilt grows along with the baby and when the baby is born so is this gut wrenching sense of guilt that never goes away.  It’s totally insane.  I’m sure dads get the same sort of feeling but I wouldn’t know.  Dads are like unicorns to me.  Good dad’s are like all-orange unicorns capable of time travel.  (They just don’t exist.)  But this guilt comes with owning the life of another human life.  It like piggy-backs off of the “joy” of your new “blessing”… blah, blah, blah.  When I found out I was growing a human inside me I knew I had to start making, not only good decisions, but the BEST decisions.  I wanted to read everything, consult everyone, and be the best mom ever.  I had to do everything I could to give my new bundle of joy the best foot forward.  And Christ, the feeling never goes away.

Maybe I’m crazy?  It’s quite possible.  But that feeling persists to this day.  I’m constantly beating myself up.  I threw myself into therapy when C turned one.  I dealt with a lot after I had him and I needed to dive into therapy a lot sooner.  Anyway, when I started feeling less like a robot and more like a human robot, I decided I needed to get professional help.  My therapist told me that I’m probably doing the whole parent thing right because I’m beating myself up and analyzing the job I’m doing.  She insisted that a lot of parents don’t.  They don’t question the work they put in.  Maybe that’s the case.  Whatever the case, it made me feel better about the guilt.

Being a parent is tough and it takes YEARS to figure out if you’re doing it right.

The guilt  brings me to my next thought… being a helicopter.  I work in student housing for a local university and I get to witness parenting almost on a daily basis.  It’s given me a long list of “what not to do’s” and I feel better positioned to be a good mom.  I won’t hover over C.  I won’t make decisions for him.  I won’t do work for him.  I won’t answer questions he should answer.  I won’t be part of his identity.  He won’t be my whole identity.  I’ll give him space to mess up.  I’ll give him space to get things right too.  I don’t want to know everything.  I’ll trust him until he gives me a reason not to trust him.  He’s an awesome kid and I just want him to be him.  We won’t have one another forever (in many ways).

Lastly, let’s circle back.  I remember 4th grade.  I remember friends, my teachers, some awkward moments, and so much more.  My little man is going into 4th grade.  I can’t believe it.  I’m not the first mom to say it or write it.  I know.  And I’m quick to dismiss other moms.  Oh… they’re just saying it to say something.  I mean, maybe that’s the case.  But good god!  It’s 4th grade!  Homework gets serious.  Boys/Girls start the boy/girl thing.  It just feels less innocent.  I learned stupid things that weren’t true about the boy/girl thing.  LOL!  I won’t elaborate but we all have those things we heard about that couldn’t be further from the truth.  C’s like a dude now.  It’s hard to let that sink in and just be.

Being a mom forces you to make decisions (small and big) constantly.  It’s one thing to mess up your own life and get things wrong but you can’t do that to someone else.  I always wanted to be a mom.  I thought that was my one shot to truly give back to the world.  It was also my chance to right the wrongs of my childhood.  I always knew I’d be a mommy and I can’t forget this.  I can’t forget my simple mission.