Snorekling in the Reflection Pool
My son used to take naps, once upon a time. He used to lay in his bed and close his eyes for nearly two hours every afternoon without a meltdown or hour long session of back-and-forth to negotiate the terms of said nap. Nowadays, by the time he actually lays down, if he does at all, it's way to late in the day to even consider letting him sleep. Everyone knows that late naps equal later bedtimes.
With the omission of naps, bedtime is one of the single most anticipated events of every evening because it holds the possibility for a tiny sliver of some off duty time for me to do whatever I want. I could sit and actually hear myself think. I could remember to restart the load of wash that I forgot about. I could eat without sharing. I could initiate and conclude-without interruption- a productive trip to the bathroom. I could then wipe my own ass without an audience. The possibilities are endless for 45-60 whole minutes (depending on when I pass out).
Sometimes I use this time to reflect back on my life and try to remember how it felt to only have myself to take care off. It feels like I'm thinking about an entirely different person. It is so hard to remember my life before marriage and children. These other human beings are so tightly woven into my fabric, I'm always thinking in terms of "we" and "us". Every once in a while I can shift my focus to just me, but it's usually in a self deprecating way.
Have I really given up on the"me"part of who I am? Or did I not know "me" to begin with?
I have always been insecure. I think any woman can relate from time to time; especially after you've had children. As much as you can plan to be one of those gorgeously glowing pregnant women, it doesn't always pan out that way. Even if you happen to be lucky enough to gain less than 40 lbs and basically lose all of it at birth, there is no doubt some part of you that changes and will never be the same again. The changes aren't all physical but you might start to miss your old physical self first. Personally, I regret being so damn hard on my old self. She was hot, way hotter than I gave her credit for.
Becoming a mother, for me at least, meant there was a lot of trading in one thing for something else. I traded my nice rack for tools to nourish my children. I opted for wider hips, in order to carry them for 9+ months at time. My hair never really grew back in as it should post pregnancies and my overall health took a downward turn. I could mourn the loss of who I was, but in reality, I would do it all over again and again and again. Although my "mom bod" still feels foreign to me sometimes, I am grateful for it.
When you're a mom, you learn to see your beauty differently. You start to see the beautiful attributes you've always had, inside and out, come through in your children. Whether they have your eyes or your good sense of direction; they are an extension of you. Many parents quickly learn that this is also a Catch 22. As much as we may want to give our kids all that is good in us, inevitably they are cursed with some of the bad.
I have struggled with mental health issues as far back as I can remember, back when depression didn't necessarily have name. As a child there was this looming something that followed me everywhere. Even on the happiest days there was this lingering haze of sadness. Of course my childhood had it's share of trauma and dysfunction but in all reality, compared to what other people have been through...it wasn't so bad. One factor that strained my upbringing was what I recognize now to be my father's struggle with depression and self-medication. Growing up, I resented him for being so unhappy but I know, I understand now, that he could not help it. He was being followed by the same looming darkness that I am. We cannot control what's in our genetic make up.
Not only am I blessed with depression, it has to be the Darth Vader of depressive disorders- treatment resistant Major Depressive Disorder. I also inherited my mother's scattered way if thinking. It takes a load of effort for me to devote enough attention to a project or task at hand long enough to see it through. It's hard to pick one thought to go with out of the ocean of commotion inside my head. That is the hand I'm dealt with and as frustrating as it is sometimes, I can handle it.
What happens if my kids are destined to go down that path? If they must carry some kind of life-long burden because of me, I will be devastated. Any good parent wants more for their child. We strive to make our kids better than we could ever be. We don't want to see them struggle. I personally do not want my kids to go through what I did. Truth is, I'm still fighting a battle for myself. Some days I'm winning and others I'm losing, but I keep trying. So even though I might not be able to guarantee that life always goes smoothly for my kids; they can be sure I will do everything I possibly can to get them through the rough parts. That's what good mom's do and despite my pitfalls...I am a pretty damn good one.