One thing I have learned about motherhood- I never (feel like I) am doing a good enough job.
Since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mom. It was not until graduating college, when I realized this “real world” thing was not a bluff, and I had to discover some ambition for a career. I thought by the time I graduated college there would be a man to take care of me and provide me with the “soccer mom” life of which I dreamed. However, when I graduated, I was single, poor, and not even remotely close to the end goal of motherhood.
With degrees in dance and creative writing, you could imagine how marketable I was. I worked as a secretary, then got into doing direct services with children with autism. It was then I decided to go back to school to get my MSW so I could put myself in a better position for getting in the family way.
I continued to dream of houses with picket fences, mini-vans, and soccer games.
It has been ten years since I graduated with my master’s degree. I am married now for seven years, and have two healthy, amazing children, one of whom does do soccer. But there is no house or mini van. We live in a small apartment and I drive the same car I had in grad school, two car seats crammed in the back.
Next year I will be forty years old, and I can’t help but wonder, where is the life of which I dreamed? When my husband and I work so hard, why can we not provide the life we want for our children?
I have to ask, would my kids’ lives be better if I had a mini van? Would they know the difference living in a larger house to that of the cozy home they love and with which they are familiar? I don’t know.
I put every fantasy egg into the basket of motherhood. There was no way I could possibly fail, since it was what I’d always wanted. And yet, here I am, feeling like I am floundering and failing, dropping those beautiful eggs and smashing them one by one.
Over the past couple days, I’ve caught myself thinking and commenting on how brutal life is. Yikes, dude. Negative.
Aside from the monetary aspect of my disappointment, there is the aspect of my dwindling energy reserves. I am out of the home for 10-12 hours a day. I drag myself back home after work feeling I will crumble to dust if there is one more thing in my son’s back pack from school for me to deal with. It takes monumental effort sometimes for me to even smile at my family. Heaven forbid if there is some tantrum or emotional trauma demanding of my time and energy, because most days I left it at the office.
My husband’s schedule is more flexible than mine, so he drops off and picks up the kids, brings them home, bathes them, and makes them dinner. I am home just in time to put them to bed. My life long dreams did not involve my husband being the primary caretaker. I abdicated a very important role in my life, and in my children’s. In some ways they are closer to my husband, and for this I am at once thankful and sad.
My children don’t know any other way but this, and they seem to be doing okay for the most part. But I know. And I am having a really hard time not resenting the hell out of our economy, our country, and women’s lib. I am having a really hard time letting go of the dreams I had for the first 33 years of my life, before becomming a parent and settling into this reality.
I feel so stuck. I am a social worker who married an artist. We don’t seem to have a ton of other options in life, no matter how we have tried to rethink or reframe our existence.
I feel bad, guilty, for even writing this. Families struggle with much more difficult things than mine- I see it every day- sickness, job loss, divorce, death, violence. But this is my reference point. All I know is that I am having a hard time feeling like I am doing even a good enough job.
At the end of the day, all I can say is that I love my children. Some days, this love might have to be good enough.
Thanks for listening. Momaste.
Have you ever felt like you were not doing a good enough job at something? How did you cope and help those around you to cope?