On Not Measuring Up

Remember Confessional Fridays? I kinda miss those. đŸ˜‰

Recently Courtney had a great post about ten things she has learned about herself since becoming a mother. As I was reading the post I was struck by how proud she seemed of these self-discoveries.

Then I realized that really, I was projecting my own feelings on to her post. Actually, I would be proud to list those ten things, or at least most of them (whole milk I can do without đŸ˜‰ ).

As I thought more about her post I recognized that if I were to write something similar, I would not feel so glowingly about what I’ve learned about myself as a mother. In fact, about some of it, I’d be ashamed. (Courtney hates putting her son to bed because she can’t bear to be without him while most nights I count the minutes until I can walk out of my daughter’s room and have some precious moments to myself.)

And as I pondered that upsetting thought, I acknowledged there was more I was ashamed of. I’m ashamed of how I’ve handled this past year of trying. I read the blogs of so many women who are incredible examples of how gracefully people can handle struggles much more monumental than my own. Some do so with humor, some with snark, many with honest reflection, some reach out and provide gracious support, some become spokespeople for our cause and others navigate the stormy waters with impressive perspective. People wade through years, sometimes decades of continual disappointment and loss and their posts rarely read as so full of despair as mine are and I haven’t even hit the 12 month mark. Frankly I’ve managed this past year with a piss poor attitude of almost constant negativity. If my run-ins this summer taught me anything, they taught me that.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m not getting pregnant because I don’t want it enough, if the ten things I learned about myself through motherhood are not all what I wanted them to be, and so maybe I shouldn’t even have another child. Maybe I don’t even deserve one. Certainly I don’t deserve one as much as so many mothers suffering from IF who cannot have another child, who have fully embraced motherhood with all its challenges and would feel truly whole with another baby in their arms.

I’m sure this all sounds incredibly negative. I promise I’m not trying to throw some more sad sack shit around with this. These are real thoughts I’m having, thoughts I feel are valid. I’ve struggled with these issues this entire year. The fact that I waited so long to start acupuncture, that I never really abstained from Diet Coke, that I got drunk at special occasions, that I didn’t take my Royal Jelly or wheat grass, that I didn’t all the dozens of things I could have done to up my chances. I did all that and more the first time. This time I just… didn’t.

Why was that? Do I not care enough this time around? Was my ambivalence a symptom of not caring? Did the things I learned about myself when I became a mother make me realize that I not the person I thought I was? Actually, I know that answer to be yes. So maybe this other person, the one I’ve only recently come to know, doesn’t want another child as much as the person I thought was did. And maybe that is why I’m not having another baby.

Probably I’m just projecting. Or internalizing. Or something that psychiatrists say. Maybe I’m just trying to make sense of something that can never make any sense. All I know is it all feels so murky and complicated. And not being able to have another baby has brought up unresolved issues about who I am and the mother I’ve become, issues I was able to ignore when I wasn’t trying to have another child.

It’s not that I don’t like the person that I am. It’s not that I don’t appreciate who I’ve become. It’s not that I think I’m a bad mother; I am proud of many things I do as a mom.  Me as a mother is just not what I expected. And I’m still dealing with that. And wanting to have another child brings it into such stark relief, I can’t ignore it any longer. I guess I’m just coming to terms.

Maybe I should write my ten things. Maybe I wouldn’t be so upset or ashamed about what I felt if I actually got it down. Perhaps the outline of that post in my head doesn’t do the reality of it justice.

I guess I’ll have to just write the post, and see what I see.

9 responses

  1. Oh man, how I can relate to this post. I felt for YEARS that maybe our infertility was a sort of punishment for not being a better person. Or that maybe I didn’t want it enough.

    It wasn’t until my therapist pointed out, neutrally, that the idea that Bad Things Happen to Me because I was a Bad Person struck her as a very YOUNG idea, as if I got stuck when I was 4 or 5 in that thinking and never matured out of it. She wasn’t that stark about it, but it really struck me, especially since I see Lucky react the same way whenever I’m angry. And it’s been a process in working on changing that thinking for me.

    Truth be told? I am STILL ambivalent about the idea of a second child. I cannot tell you the number of times that I think, “Thank GOD we just have one, it’s so simple” – just moments before I’m kicked in the gut with the longing. Especially as time passes. I mean, we’re looking at KINDERGARTEN for Lucky – we register him for it three months from now. I’ll have a school age child, and we’re regaining a lot of freedom with that. Do I REALLY want to go back to the months of sleep deprivation, nursing, tied to nap schedule, etc?

    There are a lot of days where, intellectually, I will respond to that question with an unequivocal and vehement “NO!” There are other days when my heart overwhelms everything else and I respond, “YES!”

    That’s just the nature of the beast, I think. You are a parent now, and you know what work is in store for you, what a drain being a parent is on your energy. There are SUCH rewards, yes, but the day to day is a lot of WORK.

    Your infertility is not your fault, Esperanza. It’s not a product of being negative, or not caring, or being ambivalent, or wanting it for the wrong reasons, or wanting it too much. You are coping the best way you can. Give yourself a break. This shit is HARD. In a lot of ways, the first year for us was the worst, because I was figuring out how to cope best without losing my sanity or mind. And I had TIME to do all of that, because I wasn’t a parent already.

    xoxo

  2. Some nights I love putting my son to bed and miss him an hour later; other nights I can’t wait to put him to bed and pray I don’t hear from him until the sun comes out. It’s all part of being a mom and it’s not about measuring up. I think you are doing a great job every day.

  3. I never feel like I measure up to you as a mom, ever. You delight in being around your daughter, you engage her unlike any other mom I’ve been around. You are an excellent mother. I’m a “try hard” mom: none of it comes naturally to me. You have a gift with children.

    Don’t feel guilty about the way you’ve handled this year. You’ve been honest and told it like it was. Many others have read your posts and have felt they are not alone.

  4. I didn’t do all the things I did last time to optimize fertility this time, either. I made a conscious decision to not focus and not stress on getting pregnant too much, because I feel like it doesn’t make a difference and it’s gotten me nowhere. I didn’t stress about it, and that’s gotten me nowhere too. It’s such a mindf*ck, getting pregnant. It’s all such a loss of control and it’s really hard to swallow and maddening.

    I’m with you, question all of my decisions, but I did what I did because I felt it was best for me and my family. It kind of sucks to be at this point and wonder what “if I had…” but I don’t let myself dwell there long. It is what it is and I can only control where I go from here.

    I also had the same thoughts about Courtney’s post…I have no idea what I would write about what i’ve learned! And that made me kind of freak, am I an awful mom?

    Can’t wait to read your post, if you do decide to write it. I’m going to try to write one too, but I have a feeling it’s going to take some time

  5. You mentioned awhile back that you thought you might be reusing post titles (I think that was you – ??). I was going through my own archives recently, and you know what title I was shocked I’d used so often? “A Bad Mother” Apparently I’ve written post after post about what a bad mom I am. I didn’t realize I was doing it. But I can say, you’re certainly not alone in being surprised you are not as good at it as you thought. I’m really bad about limiting TV and computers, and not so good at enforcing healthy eating. I also let my son jump on the couch and climb on tables (although I recently told him not to do it at his grandparents’ house, because they don’t like it). We are all good at some parts of parenting and bad at other parts.

    As far as not doing everything you could for a second child – I think with a first, this is all you know about being a parent. It’s all you can do, all you have to do, to be a mom: cut out diet coke, go to acupuncture, etc. By the time you’re trying for a second, you realize there is SO MUCH MORE to being a parent than that. You’ll have years to be your second child’s mom (whenever/however that happens) and you see that Royal Jelly is only a small component of that. I don’t think it’s about caring less as much as it is about perspective.

    It is not about not deserving to have another child. Not at all.

  6. I was one of the people who commented on Courtney’s post about making it a thing. I started my list. And then I stopped. I like you looked at how proud she was. How parenting changed her for the better. I look at me as I’m struggling to keep my 1 year old in check, and she’s doing her best to give me a run for my $$, and realize I’m not the kind of mom I thought I would be. I thought I would be this AWESOME mom. And I’m just not. I’m pretty laid back as things that freak other new moms out just don’t bother me. But my house isn’t as clean as it should be. My laundry isn’t always done on time. Somedays I don’t even shower.

    When we started trying for number 2, my focus drifted towards the whole TTC process, but Raegan was still the most important. Does that mean I don’t want my second child as much as I wanted Raegan. HELL NO! It just means my priorities have changed. Raegan is my first priority. I’m not as good of a mom as I thought I’d be, but she’s happy and healthy and developmentally appropriate. I have to be doing something right. It’s hard for me to feel like I’m doing it right when I see all those other moms make it look so easy. For me, parenting is VERY hard work. Parenting while TTC #2 is even harder.

    I’ve realized the only thing I need to measure up to is me, and well, even though I’m my own worst critic, I measure up fine there. And so do you…and you know it…the second to last paragraph says it all…and maybe making your list would help you find a new perspective….I haven’t given up on my list…you shouldn’t give up on yours!

  7. Oh yes. I just commented on someone else’s post that each day I feel like I am mediocre as a mother. I thought I would be better. And then I start to wonder if maybe the infertility was telling me something all along. But I suspect that are expectations for ourselves are too high and that we aren’t as bad as we fear we are. It’s been a rough week/month/year.

  8. Isn’t that what the Internet is for — to make us feel bad by comparison?

    đŸ˜‰

    My favorite time of day is bedtime. I don’t play with my kids enough. I get impatient with them too often. There are a zillion and one things I could feel bad about (and sometimes do).

    And yet, I want to teach them to be gentle with themselves. So I have to figure out how to model it for them.

    #conundrum

  9. I wish you would stop feeling like you don’t measure up- you are an amazing mother. FYI I am NEVER sad that it’s bedtime, have drank WAY too much diet coke this pregnancy (it’s never tasted so good) and mess around on my phone a lot while “playing” with my child. But at the end of the day, I know I’m a good mom overall. And remember when you are comparing yourself to others, especially on the internet, you are looking at a piece of their life, often a highlight reel. You are doing a great job- keep telling yourself that.

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