Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Lesser Version

I am a bad mother. Even though this is my fifth year in this role, I find myself worsening, not improving. I see it in my son's eyes. A sweet, serious, and sensitive boy. Older than his five years. One who surprises me with how much he understands. He watches me when I lash out, when I scream and lose it over something seemingly trivial. A TV show that wasn't turned off when I requested, a dirty sock in the middle of the kitchen, a meltdown that I can't shut down. Sometimes, his eyes well up, and other times, he just stares at me, eyes wider than usual, with sorrow and profound confusion.

Little things throw me off these days. A sense of stasis is gone. Trivial events feel like crises. A spat between my children feels like doom, a sign that our future that will surely fail. I find myself constantly muttering, "goddammit, dammit." It's as if all my fears are actualizing, even though they are not, at least not all of them. I still have a loving husband, two beautiful children, my home. Nothing terrible has happened, at least not in my immediate world. But I feel as if the world has revealed itself to me in its naked, unadorned form. It's a world where animals prey on each other, where people are left forgotten, a place where nobody really cares. It is a world where families abandon each other, where people fail to live up to each other's expectations.

These days, I feel as if my ideals of family and relationships were solely that -- just ideals. Concoctions. Figments of my imagination.

A friend recently told me that disillusionments can make us stronger once we confront the disillusion because we can then proceed to work with the truth.

For me, the truth -- at least this version of the truth -- feels unworkable. This unwelcome truth feels like a lie, a letdown, a hopelessness.

I don't know how to find my way back to optimism.

Every negative twist or incident -- however trivial --  feels like proof. Proof that life really isn't what it's cracked up to be. Proof that things really go to shit in the end.

In the midst of all this is sorrow. And fear.

I used to think that I had coping skills. Ability to face some of life's adversities. But any that I might have had now eludes me.  I guess abandonment by a person who was a central character in your life can do that. It can make you realize how alone you are in the world. You are in the negative. Minus one. Minus one person who provided a pillar for your existence. Minus one person who connected you to the rest of the world. Minus one person who saw you. But the effect is magnified because it robs you of all the optimism that you had carried previously. Now everything takes on a negative hue, and it is through this light you assess the damage.

Coping means that you have some reason to look toward the future, to propel yourself forward, to want to move future. And with fewer reasons, your coping skills are bound to diminish.

Jeff is the only one I can rely on these days, and when he's out of town, as he is this week, I feel panicked, vulnerable, alone. It takes effort to keep myself together. To make the kids' lunch, to feed them breakfast, to get them off to school, to occupy myself until I have to pick them up, to take them to their activities, to put them to bed, to endure the night.

I would like to find a way to reclaim some of my inner peace. To regain that unquestioned optimism that things work out in the end. To have a solid inner core that can absorb shocks and disappointments. To speak to my children calmly and with control. To not be rattled.

But today, I feel myself damaged. Afraid and unsettled. A lesser version of my ideal self. In this state, all I can do is ask for forgiveness, as inadequate as it is to undo what is already done.


  1. Don't beat yourself up over this. We've all felt like this, and it is hard to be by yourself for a week with the kids. You are a great mother, who cares enough to want the best for her children and takes the time to self-reflect. Children are incredibly resilient and forgiving. And you should forgive yourself too.

  2. Anyone who has read anything you have (so beautifully) written about your children know that you are a great mother. Your writing exudes love for them. From what I can tell, you are ever-striving to be a better mother, and person, for that matter, and your children will know and love you for this. You are greatly loved and admired and not alone.