Confession: I really struggle with making this whole motherhood thing all about me.
For example- when I first found out about Addison's diagnosis (I am sorry that I talk about this so much, but it was an impressionable event in my life). I was so angry at all the women around me who were pregnant and having babies who did NOT have a diagnosis or any life threatening health issues. I loathed the fact that they were living the pregnancy/birth that I wanted. It was almost as if they weren't allowed to be happy because I was so miserable. How DARE they post such a HAPPY birth announcement! type of thing. Without realizing it, I was letting their experience be overshadowed by my experience and getting angry that they didn't realize that they should react accordingly. Like my sadness had the right to supersede their happiness. They should be miserable too! There was a long time when I secretly hoped a friend or acquaintance had a secret diagnosis at birth so that I wouldn't be the only new mom that this was happening to. After all- why me? Why didn't I deserve a healthy baby too? What was so special about THEM?
It was all about me.
As motherhood has marched on and I found my peace with Addison's diagnosis, I quickly moved to make other things about me- without even realizing it. The whole breastfeeding thing. When I saw articles and post about other's successes- I felt angry. How DARE they be successful at something that turned out differently for me? It wasn't my fault that my daughter needed 2 heart surgeries and a g-tube! It wasn't my fault that I couldn't keep pumping with her doctor appointment schedule! Since in my mind I had "failed" (ahem see last week's post)- no one else should succeed because clearly- it is ALL ABOUT ME. Every time I whipped out a bottle and was reminded that other people were just lifting their shirts to feed their babies, I felt angry at the reminder. WHY were they FLAUNTING this RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME?
When people would post things on social media that their typically developing kids were doing that Addison SHOULD be doing but wouldn't do for a long, long time (if ever), I felt sad. I thought HOW INSENSITIVE! Can't they see that they are bragging about their child being normal? It hurts! Do they know how I FEEL to read that? Why would they say that? Why? #allaboutme
And honestly this moves even past the special needs parts of my parenting. When I heard of a kid Carter's age who already knew things that he didn't, I panicked. WHY were they teaching their kids things that I HADN'T GOTTEN TO YET? Would he ever get into kindergarten or college? I mean, he is already 2 and he doesn't know his multiplication tables yet? FAILURE! How rude that friends are rubbing this in my face on Facebook because their kid DOES know these things! They should be more sensitive! Bragging! Because clearly- what they teach their kids and their child's speed of development is…you got it... ALL ABOUT ME.
When I read about others making different motherhood choices- I waver. Why would they make a different choice than ME? Where they wrong? Was I wrong? Were we both wrong and the entire civilization will die off in four months because of all of the HORRIBLY WRONG PARENTING CHOICES that that article told us we were making? Why would someone post this article to make me feel GUILTY? Don't they know? Don't they know how I would take this? How insecure it would make me feel? #allaboutme
Do you ever get to the point where you recognize painful truths about yourself and then you are embarrassed, thinking about how you wore this mask for so long without even realizing it? Where you look at your beautiful children one day and realize that this is your story, no one else's. And your story is not written and critiqued on Facebook. Your story isn't lesser because it's different from someone else's. Your worth as a person and as a mother isn't defined by other people failing or winning around you. Your story might include different choices, but never mistakes. Because sometimes its the seeming mistakes that really define our journey.
I have been settling into this motherhood thing with a bit more comfortableness as I ripped away this mask that had been clouding my vision. Squinting into the sunlight, I know now- it's okay to be happy for someone else without it having anything to do with what's going on in my life. I can be secure in who I am as a person, as a mother- without letting the stories of others color whether I am "good" or "bad". My successes have absolutely nothing to do with others' successes.
For example: Addison is extremely delayed in speech. I can watch a video of another 4 1/2 year old chattering away without feeling extreme hurt because of the excellent speech obviously being RUBBED IN MY FACE! No. This isn't about me. This is about that child's video. Their successes. Their moments. When I post a video of Addison saying a new word- everyone celebrates with us about HER victory and her moment. I can afford everyone else the same consideration.
Sometimes the thing in motherhood that I need to do more of is just be still and trust. Not to worry that I'm TEACHING THEM ALL WRONG! Or saving up for their therapy bill to fix their childhood's emotional scars. Or making all the innocent things about me. No, to trust. God chose these children for me. God gave me the specific abilities and talents that I have. These two things were divinely paired together. My ability to mother my children is a God given story that has been written for me. I just have to rest in this story and trust that my best is exactly the right amount of best.
I think that friends at times tiptoe around me. I am a "special" mother. Also- I write a blog and in time past have written long posts about how much "this hurt to hear" or "I can't believe this happened IN MY FACE". And I think that my inability to recognize this in myself has at times hurt my friendships. Because I wear the title "special" maybe they think perhaps this is a normal reaction? Maybe this is a side effect of a child with a disability- an inability to move on in life and view happiness normally?
But today I would like to say- just because I have a child with a disability doesn't give me permission to be a jerk. Having a child with huge delays doesn't automatically mean that ALL PARENTS have to be careful what I might see or hear them post about their kids.
Because you know- it isn't about me. Not even a little bit.
I think we should all celebrate our kids, our decisions, and whatever happiness comes our way. Because life is hard. Cruel, even. And if we spend all our energy worrying about everyone else's stories- we will never get to just settle down and enjoy our own. And these stories are speeding by so quickly- it would just be a crying shame to miss any of this.