Saturday, April 10, 2010
The Love (and Fear) of Motherhood
There is an anxiety that grows over me, like a shadow that tilts and widens as the sun goes down. When my children were babies I thought that my anxieties about them would go away with time, and yet that has proven to be untrue. As I find myself waking in a sweat from a nightmare about my poor little boys being hurt in a terrible accident, I begin to realize just how deep my love and fear for them has grown.
Really the growing depth of my love for them echoes the growing fear I have for their safety. I find myself staying home so as to avoid stress-filled wrestling matches with 5 year old in hand and 2 year old on hip in crowded busy parking lots. I feel my teeth clench and my shoulders rise up to my ears as my eyes dart to and fro at the playground trying to follow the impulses of two young boys surrounded by such fun, and dangerous, equipment. Even when we stay home, I find myself calculating the damage done to their little growing brains from each moment of time spent in front of the TV or video game system. I count how many servings of fruits and veggies they have consumed and give myself extra 'good-mother' points if they were raw. I beat myself up for being anything less than engaging and present with them every moment of everyday, knowing all along that these expectations of myself are impossible.
As time goes on, this creeps into my subconscious, and the dreams get scarier and even my daydreams seem to have taken on a rather scary and obsessive quality. If my child was a newborn, or perhaps even 6-12 months old, I'm sure a doctor would diagnose me with postpartum depression, but alas, my children are now considered a toddler and a preschooler and this overwhelming fear must be something more than fluctuating hormones and breastfeeding surges.
I can't honestly blame this on the 'Mommy-wars' or the judgment of my peers either. I find myself surrounded by supportive and like-minded women for the most part, and I think most of the judgment I am feeling is coming from within. I don't pretend to be a psychologist, and I'm certainly not going to expound on any number of reasons why I might believe that I have become to doubt my own value and ability as a mother, but it does seem that I subconsciously don't feel that I am measuring up to my own expectations.
What I do know is that I care and I try and I love. I wish that was good enough for that inner critic. I wish that I could put my life and the lives of my children fully in God's hands. I wish it was easier for me to focus on the successes instead of the failures. So I'm putting this out there. My revelation for the night is that I can now see that this stress/fear/anxiety has reached a level that I am not comfortable with. I know that there is nothing false about hope and I will continue to hope for relief.