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.


lisa said...

wow. that is very deep and scary. i had feelings like that after skyla was born that lasted for much longer than i was comfortable with. i felt so vulnerable about her, and truly scared all the time, that i too debated leaving the house many times for fear that that would be the day that something happened to her. something WILL happen to her one day, there is nothing i can do to prevent that. if i think about it, i will go crazy and lock us all in the house. i have to look at all the joys in the every day things, and let that run my life - not fear. rejoice in your children, celebrate their life everyday, revel in your life, sing and dance and laugh all the little stuff away. stress/fear/anxiety have become your bed partners and you have to kick them out or they will take over. as far as measuring up to your expectations...lower them to a reasonable level, you're only human and can only do so much in a day.

emily said...

well said, mama. i have similar anxieties, but they center more around my own health and ability to be here for my family than for H's health and safety. we all have our struggles..totally normal--when it was really bad for me i went to therapy for a couple of months and it helped tremendously! just like clearing out the worry cobwebs...don't know if you've tried it or not, but may be worth considering for your own happiness :) hang in there, you're an awesome mommy!!

Karen L. said...

You are a deep thinker and always aware of the goings on of the people around you. You cannot understand why some people do what they do at times. I guess the reality of life is that we are all different and react differently to situations. I think you are so family oriented now and want the best for your boys that you never feel like you are doing enough. Your best IS your best and you cannot be all things to all people. Do what you need to do but remember, your little birds will grow up and must leave the nest. You are preparing them for that so think in those terms. They need to grow towards independence and you are the one to help them. And ... re-read Lisa's comments as she has a lot of good, sensible stuff written there.