When I’m on a roll with work, my family suffers. When I’m “Super Wife and Mother,” everyone in the house is happy except me, and my whole life falls apart. There’s so much pressure to do all the things — perfectly, because everyone’s watching. It’s stifling.
We’re supposed to do better than our parents did for us. For those of us who had less than stellar childhoods, this is imperative. If I had known for sure that history might ever repeat itself, I don’t know if I would have had children. Doesn’t that sounds terrible? Probably not as terrible as it feels to admit.
I grew up in a very confusing, unsafe, and inconsistent environment. I never knew what to expect or when shit would hit the fan and I trained myself to act accordingly. I tried not to be too much or too loud, not to take up too much space, or be too quiet or not enough. I spent extra time making sure everything looked okay from the outside as to not draw in too much attention. I failed to find balance, and had no one to show me what it really meant to be loved and supported no matter what.
Sometimes I feel ill-equipped for the motherhood position I hold. There was no interview process, orientation or grace period. No one said, “Let’s try it out and see if it fits.” Motherhood is not a stylish shoe or flattering pair of jeans. There’s no return policy or opportunity to exchange for store credit. Motherhood is permanent — and so is whatever damage may be passed along through generations. Most days I feel like I’m parenting by braille.
Today I’m really struggling.
If I’m honest, I’ve been struggling for a long time — too long. I can fake it like nobody’s business, because I have a lifetime of practice, but it hurts no less. I suck at asking for help, and I’m even worse at accepting it. I suppose it makes it easier to kick the shit out of and blame myself when things get all messed up.
I know how to help and support other people, so ferociously, I hardly have time or energy to focus on the need for my own attention. I know how to hide within the walls of other people’s pain and convince myself it’s a way out of mine. I know how to beat myself up for needing the support I encourage others to ask for. I know how to be surrounded by hope and love and adoration and refuse to let myself personalize any of it.
I know how to need saving. What I don’t know how to do is feel worthy of the reach.