I’m just not sure that I can be a mother today.
I became a single mother when, 3 years ago, my husband abandoned not only me, but our children as well. But even before that happened, I was struggling to be a mother; struggling to even figure out what being a mother meant.
Raised in an abusive household, raised by a mother who probably never should have had me, I’m now 32-years-old, and most days I feel like I have no idea how to be a mother because I never really had one. I feel like I don’t know how to be a mother because the one that I had did so much damage to me that I fear I’ll never be able to undo it. I’m no longer a child, I haven’t been for years, but I’m still very much an abused child, and it doesn’t matter how many years go by, that is something that will never change.
The only knowledge that my mother ever passed down to me are things that no child should ever learn, and now not only am I trying to figure out everything I was never taught—I’m trying to unlearn everything that I wish I could forget.
There is no fear greater than growing up in abuse and hoping that you won’t continue the cycle, like the statistics remind me that I most likely will. I won’t. That is the only thing that I know for sure: I know that the cycle ended with me and even if I fail in every other way as a mother, I know that I will never abuse my kids.
But everything else? I have no idea. I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m not sure how to figure it out. It’s as if every stage my children go through is a newborn phase; situations arise that I don’t know how to handle and things that I can’t remember ever going through myself. I can’t relate, I don’t understand, and I worry that I’m failing.
Am I failing? Can I do this? Some days I think I can, but some days I’m not so sure. Today is one of those days.
I want what every mother wants for her children. I want them to grow up confident, responsible, respectful and happy. I want them to be good people and to succeed in life. I want them to make a difference in this world. I want them to know that they are loved.
But I was never taught those things and then I struggled to learn them myself. I made a lot of mistakes and eventually had to claw and scratch my way to the surface from the bottom of a very dark hole, and pray that I would survive. And I did.
But can I teach someone else how to survive? Can I really be trusted to raise children when no one really ever raised me? I don’t know.
Today, I don’t know.
I love my kids with all my heart and I’m trying my best to do right by them, but there are days—days like today—when I feel that my best just isn’t good enough. These are the days when I’m overwhelmed by the tasks of motherhood, the complexities of single motherhood, and the added struggle of special needs children.
I’m exhausted by my attempt to climb above the poverty line, an attempt that has me working two and three jobs—70-hour work weeks—that leave piles of laundry and mounds of dishes as a constant reminder that my life is falling behind. I’m embarrassed when I send my child to school without her homework done, and clothes that are too small, because I don’t have any time or finances to spare. I’m torn when I am forced to make the choice between working to get food on the table, or taking my son to a much needed doctor’s appointment. I’m saddened when I don’t make it home from work in time to tuck my kids into bed, and I know that I won’t make it home for the next three nights either.
I’m running on empty and I have no one to share in these burdens with me. I feel destroyed when I watch two children grieving a father who said he no longer wants them, a mother who wishes that she could spend more time with them.
I’m lost for answers that my kids want, answers that I don’t have. I’m drowning. I’m doing a very hard job, all by myself, with no husband to lean on, and no mother to learn from.
So can I make it? Can I be the mother that my children need and deserve? Can I be the mother that I want to be for them?
I don’t know.
I don’t think that I’ll ever really know, but I know that I love them. I love them more than my mother loved me and more than their father loved them, and that’s something. That’s got to count for something.
I love them in ways that make me unable to understand how a mother could abuse her child; unable to understand how my mother could have done what she did to me. I love them in ways that keep me awake at night, worrying that I’ll fail them. I love them in ways that I was never loved. I love them in ways that make me want to be a better person, so that I can be a better mother.
I’m not a perfect mom and I probably never will be, but I love my kids enough to keep trying, and that’s what I’m going to remember today. I don’t know if I can do this, but I love my kids enough to keep trying.
That’s what I’m going to remember today.
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