When you couple being a mom with being a perfectionist, the outcome is often a genuine case of mom guilt. At least that’s true for me. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do things the “right way” and yet, I scarcely know what that is. The parenting world is crammed with conflicting information; so I gather up as much as I can, filter, synthesize, and try to come up with something that looks like a strategy. I make all of these goals, and inevitably, I fail. Often. I am trying to come to terms with imperfection as it’s become a new way of life for me. I’ve written a letter to my children to reconcile some of these feelings.
I always had the best of intentions. I read the books. I took classes on cloth diapering and researched farmer’s markets. I ate organic food, took a whole host of specially formulated pure, natural vitamins, and followed the doctor’s orders to the letter. I purchased fragrance free detergents and organized your tiny clothes by size and gender in your closet. I learned about baby carriers and strollers. I understood the importance of tummy time and reading books. I played the piano and listened to Mozart. And yet, with all of that preparation, you still took me by surprise.
First, in the most frightening of ways. When you were born at 29 weeks and 5 days gestation, I immediately began to worry about you. In spite of understanding the risk of having triplets, I naively believed that doing the “right” things would keep you from being born so early. It didn’t. From the moment you entered the world, you began to teach me about relinquishing control.
Nothing can prepare a mother for spending time in the NICU with her child. Your fragile bodies connected to tubes and wires and encased in a plastic tomb. I would listen to the rhythmic beeping, watch your chests rise and fall, and feel my heart drop every time an alarm sounded. I felt completely helpless. I couldn’t even hold you. All I could do was try to produce enough milk to fill your little tummies. So I tried.
I researched and acquired the best breast pump available. I made lactation cookies. I took strange pills and drank awful teas. I was strapped to a machine constantly. And then, at three weeks, I was told that it wasn’t enough. You needed more than I could produce. The only thing I could do to help you, I had failed at. And so I cried.
Then you came home, and I thought all would be right with the world. I held you and changed your diapers. We had tummy time and read books. I watched your precious faces as you slept. And I fed you. Every three hours. All day and all night. I became more sleep deprived than I ever imagined could be humanly possible. But I had a plan to give you the happiest, most positive, developmentally productive start in life. So I tried.
One night, when you were four months old, your father was working very late and I had been alone with you all evening. Usually, you were very calm babies, but not this night. You. Would. Not. Stop. Crying. No matter what I did. You weren’t wet, you weren’t tired, you weren’t hungry. You were just plain mad. I tried to entertain you and you cried. I tried to hold you and you cried harder. Nothing helped. Finally, I had to make your bottles for the next day, or you would have no food. So I walked over to the kitchen and listened to you all scream as I began to mix your formula. In my sleep deprived state, I dropped the blender top onto the floor and watched it shatter. I grabbed the glass pitcher full of unmixed formula, carried it to the concrete porch, and slammed it onto the ground while I screamed. Of course, this made you cry harder. And so I cried, too.
And these moments would continue to happen and tears would be shed many more times throughout your first year. But every time I felt helpless or lost control, I would learn. I would learn that I am not fully in control and I never will be again. I would learn that things don’t always go according to plan. I would learn, and perhaps one day I will accept, that there is no perfect. And that life is full of surprises. And, maybe, if I let go of the reigns from time to time, those surprises could be wonderful.
What I’m trying to say is thank you. Thank you for not just exposing my many imperfections, but for helping me to understand balance. I will never be the perfect mother. But I will always love you. And I will always try.
Hello, there! I’m Krysta. If you’re new to The Thoughtful Mom, welcome! And thank you for stopping by.
If you like what you read, you can link to me on Faceboook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. You can also sign up to receive email updates when new posts are written by entering your email below. Thanks again, and I look forward to learning from you.