I cried today. I cried a lot. Because today it was just too much.
Some of the tears I cried were tears of empathy. My little babe, at 5 months old, is cutting his second tooth in three days, and he is miserable. I looked at his scrunched up, tear stained face and cried because all I wanted was to take away his pain, and I couldn’t.
Some of the tears I cried were tears of frustration. After three hours of dealing with the fussy baby, I cried because all I wanted was for him to stop crying, and for all my rocking, soothing, and applying of homeopathic ointments, I couldn’t make him stop.
I cried tears of guilt. These are the ones I cry the most. I cried tears of guilt because when I finally got the fussy baby down, all I wanted was to sit and read a book, watch a show, or maybe just take a nap. But instead my 2 year old wanted my attention, and I just didn’t have it in me to get down on my hands and knees and play firetrucks under the kitchen table. So I set him up with a colouring book and some markers while I poured myself more coffee and tuned out on my phone.
At 3pm I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My greasy hair was pulled back in an unflattering bun, and a big white spit up stain adorned the shoulder of my pyjama shirt (yes, I was still in my pjs). Cringing, I allowed myself to take in the whole picture – and I cried tears of self-loathing as I stared at the exhausted woman in front of me, with her excess belly fat, and wide arms, and big black bags under her eyes, and baby cereal crusted in her curls.
I cried because when I texted my husband this morning at 9 and suggested a coffee date after the kids went to bed, I had been full of excitement and love and passion, and now all I wanted was to hand over the kids the moment he walked in the door and go somewhere – alone, by myself, with no one talking to me or crying at me or touching me or pulling on my hair. I cried because I know that’s not the wife he wants to come home to. I cried because he deserves better, and so do my kids. I cried because so do I.
Ok, so this was an especially hard day. Due to some registration issues with our car (one very helpful government of Alberta employee suggested we move back there, and then back to Ontario, to sort out the issue) I haven’t been out of the house for a week, my baby is teething, and has uncharacteristically been up at night. I’ve told myself a hundred times today that this is not how it usually is. And it’s not. But as I’ve been coaching myself through this day, I’ve been very aware that a big part of this problem is not the circumstances I find myself in.
I’ve become a critical woman. Not just of others, but mostly of myself. Recently a woman I respect and admire greatly started a Facebook page dedicated to sharing triumphs goals, positive experiences, and encouraging one another. And it’s been a place where women can open up about their vulnerabilities and struggles with no shame. And it’s been shocking. Because so many of these women are women that I have seen as “perfect” not in the sense of actually being perfect, but in the sense of being strong, confident, successful, and put together. And the thing is, they are all of those things, but they are also women who struggle with self-worth, who have fears and doubts just like me. And they are rising above.
So today, as I’ve been fighting back the tears, I’ve also been trying to fight the lies that tell me I’m failing, that I’m not good enough. I’ve been trying to replace those lies with truths – I was fearfully and wonderfully made, I am loved, I am a good mom, I am doing my best. I want to take hold of the critical thoughts in my head, to make my mind and my heart a place where truth and grace reign. So that out of a place of wholeness and love, I can offer truth and grace to others. Which means I need to start choosing to be ok with being me. I need to choose, when I have a hard day, to get through it, and just move on.
I cried today. A lot of my tears were tears of sadness, but a few of them were tears of laughter, and a few of them were tears of joy. Before bed my toddler gave me an especially sweet kiss. For a few blissful moments this afternoon, my baby’s cries turned into gorgeous smiles and giggles. And when he heard about my day, my husband listened and prayed for me.
Of all the tears I cried today, I’m going to choose to focus on those.