the biggest heartache of my life is to be a mother. The overwhelming, total body encompassing, heart full, body full of love that happens when you meet your baby is only a small iota of what happens when a woman becomes a mother. The love is expounded and multiplied with each smile, coo, laugh, toddle, crawl, walk, and graduation. That describes only a small fraction of the love a mother feels for her child.
But there is also pain. Being a mother means you are now responsible for another person. You are responsible for their physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychic growth. You feed and clothe them to the best of your ability which has wide variance, as we all have felt growing up with more or less material wealth than our peers. Each mothering experience is unique and special. It is challenging even with the best planned support team. The experience is strewn with varying levels of guilt, insufficiency, doubt, insecurity, and what the fuck am I doing at any given time.
And this is what an “ordinary” mother experiences. But what is an ordinary mother? Is a stereotypical family with two parental units, a home that is mortgaged, normal amount of pets and kids and debt, an ordinary family with a ordinary mother? But I digress to an equally important point but not the one of this blog.
I am not an ordinary mother by most people’s standards. (Again, I must repeat, As if there truly is an ordinary mother). I raised 8 kids by myself. I raised 8 kids without support from my ex-husband and with quite ridiculous obstacles from seeming support people. My parents were way too active in my life and the lives of my children due to close living proximity and the erroneous belief that they were trying to help me with my family.
Sigh. AGain, I digress with another important facet of the complications and tribulations of the raising of the Dawn Smith children. Another day will bring that chapter.
It’s hard on the heart to have a lot of kids. Yes, they are all grown. But they are still my children. They still want and need their mother for love, support, advise, and sometimes, financial help.
I’m thankful I am in a position to help and support my kids. Times are hard right now with Covid isolation, chaos, and confusion. Navigating this world of racism, poverty, hate, and despair is hard enough, throw in a pandemic requiring social isolation and anxiety and depression are having a field day on people everywhere and specifically in my family.
As much as I love being able to emotionally support my kids, I also have my own feelings, emotions, and life. I feel some kind of way now about the balance of adult kids and my life. Raising teenagers was such a drain on my spirit, compounded by the obstacles that my parents through into the mix by undermining me and filling my kids’ heads with disrespect and hate of me. They were filled with the normal teenage angst, rage, and hate for their mother. In addition, they had a higher level of disrespect because that’s what my parents showed them by gossiping in front of them.
Although I loved my kids, it was hard to raise them alone. It was hard to keep it all together. I cried a lot. I felt guilty a lot. I felt overwhelmed and incompetent. a fucking lot. And I cried and overreacted. I had uncontrolled anxiety.
As much as my kids think I fucked shit up with my anxiety filled tantrums, they have no idea how much it fucked me up knowing the full extent of how much work it entailed to raise 8 kids by myself. It was hard. It was scary. It was unappreciated by anyone. The kids hated me (i know they didn’t really hate me but their rage was convincing enough). My parents didn’t think I was doing it right and constantly undermined me. My ex-husband never missed an opportunity to bad mouth me, harass me verbally, or through the courts demonstrating to the kids repeatedly disrespect of me. I felt like I was against everyone just trying to do the right thing: raise my kids to be kind, loving, respectful, hard working people.
I was just trying to raise my kids to be responsible. I was just trying to spend time with them. I was just trying to be their mom. Imperfectly but doing my best and trying to do better. And I was alone. I was alone for a lot of the time, arguing and fighting with the kids, for the kids, against the kids for the kids. Always fighting.
Now they are grown. I am tired. I want to help them. But life is hard for me right now too.
I know I am resilient. I know I will get through this. Hell. I know THEY will get through this. Because through it all, I did teach them to be strong, to be resilient, to keep working through it and to it.
We will get through this. I hope to get through it with more self-awareness, self-compassion, and self-forgiveness. I hope to remember, then and now, I am doing the best I can do and as I know better, I do better.