Most of the parents I know deal with two things. They seem to be universal for moms and dads of our generation. These two culprits bring anger, resentment, and self-deprecation. They are venom to a healthy parent. And they seem to be deceptively intertwined.
I’m talking about Shame and Guilt.
Shame is the voice in your head when you feel the need to make excuses about your messy house or your sweat pants. Guilt is the taunting that constantly chides you for not being better. “You shouldn’t have eaten that,” Guilt says. “Don’t talk to her,” Shame adds. “She has perfect hair and well-behaved kids. She’s not like you.”
Guilt makes me think mean thoughts about myself. And Shame makes me feel like I want to hide. Sometimes I can’t even tease the two voices apart, but I just want them to be quiet.
There is only one way to deal with these two. I’m learning they lose their sting when you just say it all out loud. You see Guilt and Shame have to hide in the dark places. They can’t dwell out here in the real world where the light hits their bruises.
So here it is. Here is my confession.
The other day I raised my voice. I yelled. I was too quick to anger. I was abrasive. I was not being kind or gentle or giving or engaging. I was tired and mad. I was happy to make use of “time out.”
I am ashamed that my son still wakes up nearly every night and asks for milk. Ashamed because I should not give in to him. I should make him go back to sleep without it. I know I am enabling him.
I feel guilty because I get bored playing with him. Monster, dragons, dinosaurs. After the first 15 minutes I would rather wash the dishes.
So there is it. Out here for the world to see. I’m not strict enough and I get bored easily, even when it comes to playing with my kid. Even though I have a parenting blog, I really mess this up sometimes. It’s important for me to say this because I’m trying to get over this Mommy Messiah complex I have.
I’m trying to realize that I’m enough because I’m not everything.
I’m enough because I’m not my son’s savior. I’m not his portion. I can’t make his life perfect. I can’t even make him happy. As an adult, I’m certain, Ezra will see my flaws. Especially after he has children of his own, he will know that I was not everything–I was not always patient and gentle and kind and playful–but I was enough. I am enough.
So to you, out there. I know you have things you are ashamed to admit. I know the guilt keeps you up at night. But know this: You are enough. Even with your short fuse and your rush to anger. You are enough because you know that. You know you must be better. You know the baggage you carry is not “you.” You know your kids deserve the best you have to offer. It’s in there inside of you.
You’re enough when you fall short and enough when you overflow with parental goodness. You are enough when you are well-rested and enough when you are kicked in the face by morning sickness. You are enough when you work late and enough when you pack that bag for daycare. You are enough today and you will be enough tomorrow.
And if this is something you just have to say over and over until you get it. Well, do that. Because I’m telling you the truth. Let this be your confession. You are enough.