by Linda Sharps
1. I am estranged from my father and I have a polite but extremely distant relationship with my mother and I sometimes worry that my lack of family bonds and fear of rejection damaged a number of buried but critical internal structures that will forever prevent me from forming intimate friendships and will repeatedly surface in ways that will negatively affect how I parent my children.
Well! So much for easing you into the topic, right?
Actually, I have no overarching topic today, just a series of confessionals. No reason, aside from the fact that sometimes it feels cathartic to peel off some unsavory truths and lay them out in the open. You're only as sick as your secrets, they say. I have no idea if that's true, but like Mulder, I want to believe.
2. My five-year-old greatly prefers my husband and it has been at times the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life. My oldest went through a Daddy phase too, but this is different. This is something I often take personally even though I know I shouldn't. Every slight and refusal digs into me and carves a new wound. I worry that I make it worse by pulling back but I can't seem to help it. My older son feels sorry for me and comforts me and tells me "I want to be on Mommy's team because Dylan never is" and it stirs up the most confusing murk of emotional flotsam: sorrow, self-pity, a grasping gratitude for my 7-year-old's sensitivity, a hateful internal inventory of everything that must be wrong with me and every reason my husband is the superior parent.
3. I constantly compare myself to the sort of mother I think I'm supposed to be and come up short every time. I worry about how my children will remember me. I secretly want to be beautiful and capable in their eyes, loving and gentle and brave. Perfect. The good queen from a fairytale -- when in reality I am sarcastic, impatient, fearful, weak. Not the evil queen, exactly, but flawed and unlovely and all too human.
4. At nearly forty years old, I am neither a talented homemaker nor an accomplished career woman. If there is a dream to be followed, a passion to pursue, I do not know what mine is. Some days I'm okay with the goal of being present and doing the best I can in my various roles. Other days I wonder what happened to the ambitious, driven person I used to be.
5. Speaking of, I once ran a marathon. I did a sprint triathlon. I worked out with a personal trainer. I was strong and fit and confident. Now I'm so out of shape I threw out my back lifting groceries into the trunk of my car. I'm scared I will never be able to crawl out of this fitness slump I've been in for two years and counting, and I'll spend the rest of my life feeling lazy and unattractive and unhealthy.
6. I'm terrified my children will inherit my alcoholism.
7. I resent the drudgery of stay-home motherhood, and the way I am responsible yet receive no recognition for the most boring and unsavory tasks while my husband gets to walk in the door at 5:30 every day to a clean house and a hero's welcome.
8. I am lonely.
9. I know that every time I feel defensive or judgmental about someone else's parenting choices it's because I am less than confident about my own.
10. I will never understand how I came to be so lucky as to have my amazing family. My beautiful, miraculous, wild little boys. My devoted, forgiving, loving husband. Every day I tell myself the same thing: If I only do one thing right in my life, please, please, please. Let it be this.
The floor is open, dear readers. Do you have any difficult confessions of your own to share?