Motherhood guilt is REAL, isn’t it?
I was asked to write a blog post for another website featuring my Top 9 tips for 9 months of pregnancy. (I guess I’m now bordering on expert…hehe) and I was going back over some pictures from my pregnancies and just like that I’m sobbing like a baby.
Not with the sheer joy that comes from creating life. No, it was like each picture told a story, held a memory of what my life was like in that exact moment. As I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, looking at pictures of the last several years of my life, feelings and emotions just came flooding back.
I have a LOT of guilt over the first 10 months or so of Declan’s life. We had gone through some really hard stuff as a family, and he came to this world with troubles that I just couldn’t get a handle on. It wasn’t for lack of trying, you all KNOW how much I tried to figure out what was going on with his little self. And I look back and know in my heart I did everything I could to fight for him, and to be an advocate for what we were going through and I pestered doctor after doctor after doctor until somehow the planets aligned and we started to piece together what he needed.
But I look at pictures of those early days – his tiny, scrawny self that hovered right above the failure to thrive line on the doctor’s charts and I feel wracked with terrible, awful, sorrowful guilt. I can’t shake the memories of those dark days of endless crying, no sleep, constant worry. I can’t help but feel so sad and so sorry that I didn’t figure it out sooner. That I couldn’t help him feel better when he was so little, so helpless, so dependent on me to protect him.
Of course in the grand scheme of things, compared to real trauma, what we went through was nothing. But this mama’s heart still shatters a little when I remember. When I see pictures of him crying and inconsolable.
Sadness and grief are an interesting thing to me. I suppose I’m becoming a little bit of an expert on those topics as well.
When I express my feelings about those dark days to people, I usually hear things like “You did the best you could!” or “It wasn’t your fault!” or “But look how happy he is now!” All things that are – truly – accurate. They are all true statements. It wasn’t my fault. I did do the best I could. He is happy now (well, most of the time!)
But you know what else I think is helpful?
You have to sit in that.
In the sadness. In the pain. In the darkness. It’s ok to acknowledge those are real feelings. I feel guilty about the fact that Declan was born with a lip and tongue tie that basically kept him from consuming any calories the first 9 months of life and probably spent his days and nights hungry and miserable. Y’all. I. Feel. So. Guilty.
Whether it’s my fault or not, the feelings are there and they are real.
I saw this today and it just resonated with me.
Yes. Just sit there. And then? Get up and walk away.
My kids have been through a lot in their little lives. All of them. And sometimes, that reality takes my breath away. Even though so many things have been out of my control and let’s be honest, life is just HARD for all of us – oh, the guilt and sadness are so very real.
So I’ve been forcing myself to sit down when those feelings start. Just sit and think. Pray. Cry. And then I get up and walk away. And it’s helped me relate to my kids as well when they start acting out or crying over things I don’t understand. Isn’t it easy to say “stop crying!” “you’re fine!” “it’s not that big of a deal!” – but oh, the acknowledgment of feelings is such a valuable thing. I’m giving myself permission to feel and those little guys? They need permission to feel too.
And so do you.
Thankful for redemptive and happy moments. If we don’t sit in the sad, we’ll never truly feel the happy.
(And because a year makes a whole lot of difference! He almost has little baby rolls!)