Yes, I’m a business owner. Yes, I’m a Doctor of Physical Therapy. But you know what? My hardest job without question is being a mom. My son Jack is now 2 1/2 years old, and toddlerhood is absolutely insane. Actually, all of parenting is and here is why. Your heart explodes open in a way that only feeling it can capture, and you love this thing you are deathly afraid of messing up more than you have ever loved anything on earth. And this recovering perfectionist always wants to “get it right”, but there is no right. There’s only messy. One evening after yelling so loudly at Jack after he violently swatted his hands across my face in a tantrum, I called a girlfriend in tears. I felt horrible for losing my temper. All the tools I have and there I was screaming at my small child in a way that took even me by surprise. I stormed out of Jack’s room without giving him my usual song and kiss goodnight because the rage I felt was so consuming that I had to walk away. I showered and felt so badly that I swore if he were still awake when I got out that I would go back in and say I was sorry.
I checked the baby monitor and sure enough, he was awake.
I went in and hovered over his crib in the dark and watched my tears fall on his blanket. I sobbed and mustered through my choking throat that I was sorry, that mommy got so mad when he hit me that I yelled and lost my temper. I told him that I don’t think HE is bad, but that when he hit me it wasn’t a very nice thing to do. I told him that everyone gets mad sometimes, and we will have to learn together how to deal with those feelings without hitting or screaming. I told him that I loved him so so much and then asked if he forgave me. He nodded his innocent little chin up and down and even his reassurance broke my heart.
So here’s what my girlfriend said when we talked. “Do you know how many more times you are going to lose your shit? Like, a lot. But it’s not about the rupture, it’s about the repair.”
Those words give me goosebumps. The truth always pierces through me in a way that lets me know it’s the only thing to actually believe. I can believe I am a bad mom, I can waste time ruminating in guilt and shame that I am messing my child up because I am not doing it perfectly, or I can lean into the reality that I will not get this thing right every time. And that when I don’t, I will always be able to try and repair it by communicating with him about what happened, why it happened, and how we might do it differently next time. And of course, I can let him know how madly in love with him I am through it all.
To the current moms, the want-it-so-badly-but-don’t-have-it-yet moms, the I had a great childhood moms, the I had a traumatic childhood moms, the never knowing if you’re doing it right or wrong moms…LISTEN UP. You are ENOUGH. You will mess up, shout, let down, and damn right lose your mind. But you can always work on the reparation. You can always self reflect and see what came up within you that still needs work. You can look at your child like your mirror, your greatest teacher, and hang the fuck on for the craziest ride of your life. Until next time, RISE UP MAMAS. Keep loving yourselves, keep forgiving yourselves, and keep leaning into the uncertainty—it’s truly where the change happens.