I feel like motherhood is like a war set against the backdrop of a hundred years. As in, it's a never ending battle to do right, be right, make the right decisions. And for the better part of these six years since becoming a mother I feel like I'm doing it right. That I stay just ahead of the game, my head finally just above water. Most days the battles are small, the tears are few, I'm no longer in danger of losing my voice from yelling. Most days. But not every day.
Saturday started out as a great day. A day date for the Hubbs and I, a neighborhood get together for the families in the evening. As we wrapped a great day, the exhaustion set in. I was tired, the Hubbs was tired, the kids burnt out and strung out on ice cream and cake. Not unusual for a Saturday night around here. We are those parents with a lose interpretation of the words "bedtime" and "dinner". We live in and out of boundaries that we set and never follow. It's fine, usually.
Usually. But this Saturday night was different. It capped off a week of tears and fierce battles between me and my oldest. My oldest who has never once picked the road most traveled, always the one least. My oldest who has never once been content with the easy way, the compromise, the amicable disagreement. My oldest who has set and strategized the battlefield since she took her first breath that late June afternoon.
And I know this about her. Now, I know this about her. Back then, six years ago, not so much. So much of my confidence in motherhood was wrapped up in my failures and shortcoming with this child. She knows nothing of those. But she now knows my anger, my short fuse, my combustible and combative temper. That the little things can set me off, can start an uncontrollable wild fire. Together we are a Molotov cocktail.
Saturday night capped off a very tough week. We hadn't had a week like this in years. Uncontrollable tears about everything, anything, nothing. Fights and arguments about hair styles, shoes, breakfast choices. And with every battle, a little more gasoline on that fire, my patience a little more cracked. Until, Saturday night, when my oldest went into a crying tirade about a diamond rhinestone something or another, and I absolutely lost myself. Again.
It wasn't pretty. I was awful. I threw a fit that would put any toddler to shame. I threw things (not at her). I screamed (in general to no one and everyone at the same time). I was so angry. And she knew. And she told Daddy that she was sorry she made me mad. And that killed me so much, but I was still so angry I couldn't even cry about it or see it as I can see it now. I am so flawed in this life as a mother. Like I've said so many times, I wasn't built for motherhood, it has built me, over the years, and still I'm not even half way there.
I write this not because I want to expose how terrible or horrible a mother I am. I write this because I'm hoping that I'm not alone. That I'm not the only one who looks in the mirror some days and know I could have done better. That I can be better. I write this because I need you to know that my life isn't a life of filtered Instagram pictures. That my life is chaotic and sometimes ugly. That my smile isn't always bright, and that sometimes I make it harder than it has to be.
Saturday night was a reminder that motherhood is still building me. I'm still under construction. It was a reminder that with my oldest, every tear, every tirade takes me back to those dark and foggy days six years ago, when my smile and my facade was cracked. When my world was happening around me and I was too scared to admit that I was drowning. I worry that I will never shake that feeling with my oldest. That every year the hugs aren't as comforting, that our connection isn't as solid. That every battle that takes place over the hundred years of motherhood will drive us further and further from mother and child. I fear that one day, neither of us will recognize the other.
I love her, you know. With everything. My heart aches in the aftermath of our latest battle. The guilt stifling. But like everything in motherhood, Sunday was a new day. Sunday was another fresh start that I was blessed with. I'm not above apologizing to my child for my horrendous behavior. I'm not above admitting that I can do better. I can tell her a thousand times I love her, but I also have to show her I love her. I have to show her that my love is unconditional. And that is where I feel that sometimes I fail.
I'm trying. I'm learning from past mistakes. I'll keep charging ahead with a new strategy. In my mind, motherhood is still a hundred years war, because the biggest battles are always for love.