Do you ever just feel suffocated by Mom Guilt? That extra-heavy, nearly impossible to slough off sense of utter failure and the inability to get things right?
Tonight our household went berserk over a tick. We live in Georgia. Ticks are a thing, this constant Lyme-filled threat to all outdoorsy people. I am usually immune, lover of the indoors and all, but even I have fallen prey to the weensy bloodsuckers from time to time.
Our nine-year-old girl discovered her first tick, adhered to her back, right at bedtime of course, and promptly went banana-balls. I do this thing where I’m really calm on the outside, so I went to my place of Stepford everything-is-fine and took crazy girl upstairs.
I have all the head knowledge about proper tick removal, but when confronted with a flailing, sobbing child, my lack of experience reared its unprepared head and hey, speaking of heads, that tick accidentally lost his inside my daughter’s back.
Did I mention banana-balls?
Everything I did to fix the situation just made it worse. After getting her to bed, making a note to call the doctor first thing in the morning, I staggered down to the basement to spiral into a pit of Maternal Flogging.
You know the kind? Where you mentally berate yourself and look up all the successful moms on the internet who didn’t inadvertently give their kids enough ammo for seven years of counseling and a hearty dose of Lyme disease?
I’m still in the flog pit, and I guess me writing when I should be crawling into bed is my attempt to flee the pit and regain some semblance of humanity. Hey, didn’t I just blog about grace last week? Hmm, I’m really smart when I’m not currently a total nutjob. The other me must’ve written that, not the one who clearly doesn’t deserve to raise children.
Flog flog flog.
Do you do this? Something happens to your child, or you try your best and fail, and you spiral down into a remorseful mess?
I remember my mom telling me one time, early into this parenting thing, that she felt sorry for our generation of moms. We know too much. We have all this information and Google tells us all the bad things that can happen and it’s paralyzing. It robs us of joy.
She’s right. I know too much about everything, every possible scary thing ever, from the amount of dye in the fruit punch my kids had for dinner to the number of bats infected by rabies that could swoop down and kill us all in our sleep.
Please. I love information. But I do feel a little paralyzed. I’m berating myself over this stupid tick, and I did my best. I did my best, and I couldn’t get it out, and tomorrow I’ll get up and do my best at this parenting thing again.
It’s really, really hard, and parenting perfectly is an unattainable goal. The internet says I took the tick out wrong, and I totally did. But here’s the thing.
Just like my kids, I’m still learning. As moms, we never leave school. We learn more every day, and the more we learn the harder it seems to get, so we feel like we’re falling behind, but really we’re smarter and quicker than ever. We just have more stuff to juggle than a month ago, a year ago, a decade ago.
I didn’t know how to change a diaper when we brought our preemie home from the NICU. And his little newborn diapers could fit a Barbie doll. I blinked, and he was a wiggly toddler and I could change his diaper while holding him down with my feet and answering the phone.
I can learn. The stakes are high, with these precious little lives, but we will keep learning, keep growing, keep showing up, doing our best, and BY GOD we’ll stop all the flogging.
So I’m going to go to bed. I’m going to exhale all my big fears and hand over my mental flogging to Jesus. And then I’m going to inhale. Big, deep breaths of clean oxygen. Sleep. Rest. And in the morning, I’m going to do my best all over again.
It isn’t enough. But it doesn’t have to be. Because I’m still learning.
image from Bodie Strain, https://flic.kr/p/7CVoy3