Lately, I often have two children literally hanging on my legs. Listen, I am not a touchy person. I half-joke that I like snuggling with my babies until they're a year and a half, and then once they hit about 18 months old, Mommy needs her personal space bubble again. This means I still love snuggles with my daughter, but sometimes I can't get the almost-three-year old pealed off of me and it makes me feel anxious. Sometimes I just want my space. In fact, I can't tell you how often I say, "Mommy needs her SPACE." I also like quiet, and I am often saying "Mommy needs QUIET," as well. Neither one works. Once you're a mom, you might as well say adios to personal space, and quiet, and quiet spaces. Even if I get to take a shower alone, the entire time I hear knocking and a little voice saying, "Mama? I munt to take a jower! Mama, I take a jower, too?"
Being a mom is hard. I didn't realize how hard it was until Austen came around. It's easy to give yourself to one child. One child demands all of you, and that's fairly easy to give. I mean, you may be on the brink of insanity, but it's doable. But when two (or more) children demand all of you, well, that's just impossible. How are you to give all of something to two different demanding, loud, in-your-space, tiny people? I read something once that gave me a little hope. It was that when you find yourself locked in the bathroom, sobbing on the floor, because you've just had enough does not mean you have failed as a mother. Being a mother is hard. That is not failure. That is fact.
And the mommy-guilt. It's bad enough that mothers have to be so emotionally invested in their children (ha), but we are just so damn sappy and compassionate and we love those damn kids so much it literally aches, it aches so deep, that when we are not behaving as our idea of the perfect parent (because our children deserve nothing less) we beat ourselves up, and then the more insane moms (like myself) tend to think god forbid anything should happen to our children (your love, your life, your very heartbeat!) because what you could have, should have done differently will be forever burned in your brain and there won't be anything you can do about it!
I think it's actually healthy to... well, a couple things. Be honest with yourself. The other day, I told my mom that sometimes River hanging on me is like nails on a chalkboard. That I don't know why I feel like that, and I hate that I feel like that, because I love my little boy with all my heart. But I just get busy and overwhelmed and then he's stuck to me and I just want him off, just go play, please stop saying mommy a million times. I just need a break. (Or, a frickin' break is what I said, I think.) And then after you're honest, take care of it. Recognize the need. Recognize the emotions for what they are. Do something about it.
For me personally, while a break may mean getting away for a bit, sometimes it means spending one-on-one time with River. I think that's the kind of break I'm needing right now. Take a break from anything else that is demanding my attention, so I'm not being pulled in all different directions, and place all my attention on River. Focus in on him. Lie down on the warm sunshine in his room with him and Austen and shut the door. Shut out everything. Read a few books, do some puzzles, color together. Talk quietly. Be silly. Watch his facial expressions and listen to his corny toddler jokes and eat fake, wooden food and tell the same story over and over because it's his favorite. Make everything else wait. Brush off everything else that's overwhelming. Not him. He needs me more than anything else needs me.
Just be. Be present.
Here's the thing. Someone told me something like this (I mean, it was in that blog post, so it wasn't directly to me) and I have to tell myself this all the time, and I imagine most mothers deal with mommy guilt at some point or another, so consider this me telling you. Directly. Your child was made specifically for you. Breaking down every now and then doesn't mean you've failed. Being angry or frustrated doesn't mean you're a bad mother. We all have our embarrassing or bad or painful moments as mothers. Wanting to get away from your children every now and then does not make you uncaring or neglectful or selfish. Wanting a little peace and quiet and not being able to get any, that's not something many people can survive. The older I get, the more I feel like a woman and less like a girl, the prouder I am to be a woman. Women are strong. We take a lot of shit. You grew a person. If you are a good mother... deep down, you know it. You know when you do your best, and you know when you don't, and you know what you can realistically change... and that makes you a good mother.
Remind yourself of that.