"ignore the story. see the soul. remember to love. you will never regret it" --- Seane Corn

"ignore the story. see the soul. remember to love. you will never regret it" --- Seane Corn
it's a jungle out there

Sunday, January 31, 2010

J's words

"... and i just feel like we're all trying to find a nice comfy place to cope. someplace not too scary and not too safe." Those were J's words in an email to me this evening...

And a fucking light bulb goes off in my brain. OK. Maybe not a light bulb. Maybe something more like a night light.

I've tried to post for days. I've written and written and nothing's quite right. I haven't even been able to corral my confusion well enough to define it with words.

It's not quite depression. Not quite overwhelm. Could almost just be the January Blues. With a nice dose of anxiety. But it's not.

It's motherhood.

Damn this shit is heavy. The worry and fear about our children. And then it becomes worry and fear for ALL children. So I worry about Mia, and I worry about the children in Haiti. And then I worry about the children right here on my block. And I feel for the patients(moms) at work. And I think they KNOW that I feel for them because I listen and I'm always sweet with their babies. We're all just moms trying to keep our babies from harm and heartache.

It doesn't matter if it's bullying or bipolar. It doesn't matter if it's the awareness of an extraordinary gift and wanting a child to SOAR. It doesn't matter if it's congenital or acquired. Treatable or terminal. Or just the heartache and angst of puberty. It doesn't matter if it's an accident or act of god. As mothers, we all have these moments hours days weeks lifetimes of fear sadness pain rage when it's time to protect our cubs.

I remember a friend who would feed her toddlers M&Ms and fluffernutter sandwiches. Appalling. And she would say I just want them to be happy. And I thought it was ridiculous to equate candy and marshmallows with happiness. Nevermind the whole nutrition/cavities thing. This friend had grown up with a schizophrenic father and a financially unstable family. As a result, she was determined to make a lot of money. She never wanted to live in financial fear again, nor did she want her children to ever have to worry about money. She became a lawyer and married a lawyer and they made a shitload. They had 3 kids. They were financially secure. They were happy. And she still fed them M&Ms. Like all the time. Just to see them smile. Cause the memory of her own childhood sadness was so close to the surface that she just couldn't bear the thought of her own children being sad too.

I thought of her the other day as I was desperately trying to make a successful Mia & Mommy day. M&M. I looked at Mia and thought I just want her to be happy. And so much of the time all I see is sadness in her eyes. I keep searching her face for a glimpse of innocent carefree child-happiness.

It's seldom there.

She has nightmares.

She's in our bed most nights, and we can't say no to her. I can't. Bruce won't. She shakes with fear. She won't tell us her dreams cause they're too scary and if she says them out loud they'll be real.
So I just want to hold her all night so she might feel safe. And not afraid.

It's so hard to figure out what the right thing to do is. I know you all know what I'm talking about. I know it will all turn out ok. I know that we have the love and resources to make it through. We've done it before, and we'll do it again.

We all will

But still. We mothers can't help but think what if i fuck this up what if i make the wrong choice say the wrong thing irreparably damage my baby overlook something choose the wrong doctor teacher therapist school district medication. What if I choose the wrong words. What if I'm not there at the right time. What if I'm not doing enough for these children and those children.

What if.

So J's words keep ringing in my confused brain. we're all trying to find a nice comfy place to cope. someplace not too scary and not too safe.


  1. Oh Michele. I have struggled with this all of my adult life because I have had children all of my adult life. I remember once when I was a single mama in nursing school and I was so worried about my (then) two children and I was talking about this to a friend of mine who had four kids and one who had died in infancy. I said the same thing- I just want them to be happy!
    She looked at me with eyes of well-earned wisdom and said, "Your responsibility as a mother is to keep them fed, dressed, healthy and educated. You cannot make them happy."
    Whoa! Blew my shit AWAY!
    And that doesn't mean you shouldn't let your nightmare-suffering daughter sleep with you. But understand that many, many kids go through nightmares, night-terrors. I did. Some of my kids did. I think it may be part of some children's neurological development. But you didn't do a damn thing to cause that. And just being there to comfort her when she is unhappy is what you should do but you can't make this stuff not happen.
    You are a wonderful mother and your children will have happy days and sad ones. Just like all of us humans, whether grown or not.
    Be at peace with that and all will be better.

  2. I don't really know what to say. I know the fear you discuss all too well. My ex has some severe mental issues that didn't manifest until after I was pregnant. It's terrifying that no matter what we do, it may not be enough to keep our babies safe.

    I'm strict on things like nutrition, but I can't hold back on affection. I would never feed Boy candy sandwiches, but I have a lot of trouble not picking him up when he reaches up his arms and whimpers. I never want him to feel unloved.

  3. This touches me in secret and not so secret places-because I have learned the hard and scary way that we can't keep them safe and it is impossible to make them happy-all we can really do is love the hell out of them, and damned if it is enough-but it is, because that is all we have to give them in the end.

  4. Ick! I feel for you and very lovely Mia. The biggest part of my childhood were the nightmares that would haunt me day and night.

    My parents just hugged me a lot and talked to me about it alot. I feel like that's about all they could do.

    And don't give her too much candy, I would have worse nightmares and anxiety when my mom wasn't handling my diet.

  5. Wow.
    This is exactly what I always imagined motherhood would be like and I knew it was too much for me. I just could not manage it. You are doing a fantastic job. My gosh, you are juggling so much and are looking after, and caring for so many people. I'm sorry it's so scary and hard and unsettling lots of the time.
    You did a beautiful job writing about it.
    Stunning and true and felt.

  6. I try to think of the what ifs less these days. I used to live in the what ifs. Now I try to live in the present a little more. Not that I don't do the what if game any more. It just doesn't help anyone along that much. But it's a struggle every day.

  7. I completely understand. I worry constantly that I'm fucking up my girls. That I'm not enough. That I will somehow fail them when it matters most.

    Parenting is so very, very hard.

  8. Just a question, do you have no idea what is causing her to have nightmares or has something happened and you can kinda figure what might be causing them? I have a suggestion, it's a harsh one, and the idea only came to my mind because I have a friend who had horrible nightmares at a young age and would never talk about them until she was 17. Then we all understood. Nobody would have ever in a million years would have known.

  9. I know it won't make much difference but you are a good mother -- a "good enough" mother as the psychologists say (D.A. Winnicot). Your children will be FINE--I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Moon.

  10. I hear you, and I know exactly what you're saying. It's almost too much and I'm glad I didn't know it would be like this before, or I'd have never had kids like I said I wouldn't in the first place. I love them so much, want so much for them, worry so much for them that it is too much. I hope Mia finds her happy and her way around the bad dreams. At least she tells you that there are dreams. I hid my fears and told no one, just morphed into a Clingon when I was little. It would have been easier if I could have found my voice. My Emmy has too many worries, and has a hard time sleeping, so we work really hard on happy thoughts at bedtime. She comments all the time how unfair it is that Daddy and I get to sleep together but she has to sleep alone. Guilt me much? I let her in once in a while, but she flops like a fish and noone but her gets any sleep, plus she snores and drools! She has the most brilliant imagination, which feeds the fears at night.

    You are the best mom I can imagine, and I wish there were a pill to stop us from worrying about messing up, when there isn't a rule book or guide book or operations manual that works for the mommy job.

    Wishing you all a good night's sleep! (I slept very little last night thanks to a horribly icky Silence of the Lambs type dream that would not go away - wtf? I've had the scary dream thing my whole life, it's really not fair.)

  11. How do you read my mind? Truly. I fear for all babies. Paul was watching some stupid "Law and Order" show and kids were involved, and I couldn't let the anxiety go. I don't watch the news anymore. I could never read books like "Night" or "Say You're One of Them" with the same detachment as I did pre-kids.

    I've been altered forever. And yes, you will get through it, but you're living it now.

    Just know you're not alone.

  12. All I know is that we can't make eachother happy really, but it is difficult to be a happy person when you don't have a good Mama. A good Mama is a foundation for bone happiness. Your kids have that, even when they are scared or sad, they have your solid stone-strong love. There is nothing better than that in the whole damn world.

  13. She will be fine, really. She will be fine because she has parents who care, who love her and because as Ms Moon said, we cannot do more than what we are meant to do.

    Happy is such a variable state, how could we know how to make our children happy from day to day? So we feed them, hug them, read them a book, play a game and let them know that we love them. Too, try hard at not feeling guilty because we don't have that magic wand that could make the night terrors go away, the perfect handkerchief that could dry their unhappy tears forever and the ability to take all worries and sadness away forever as well.

    You care, you love, you feed. By anyone's definition you are a good mother. I take that over a full bank account any day, M&Ms and all.
    Take care Chica, we all need to mother ourselves a bit these days to keep the day terrors away, and they are everywhere these days from the news to our own worries. Hugs from here.

  14. Ugh! I feel like my childhood sadness is too close to the surface. I thought that becoming a mother would make me appreciate my mother more, but in some ways it's made me really angry because there is no way that I want my daughter to go through some of the crap I went through. I really do just want her to be happy.

    I am so sorry about Mia's nightmares.

  15. So am I. As mothers, we are always worrying. I often people that I literally think I would swallow poison for my children. You're great, keep writing.

  16. OK. This is interesting.
    Because I had this thought JUST YESTERDAY...
    the thought was about my own mother.
    And it came from an afternoon with a friend who is going through a divorce, and is doing things I don't approve of.
    And that came after I gave Luke a bag of old Halloween candy so that he would leave me alone because I NEEDED a moment alone.
    Which came right after I let Annie go to bed without brushing her teeth because I was too tired to help her.
    And here was the thought...


    I am so quick to judge others.
    I have ALL THE ANSWERS for everyone...everyone but myself.
    I see what EVERY OTHER MOTHER SHOULD be doing.
    I know exactly what my own mother DID NOT DO...and should have done.

    I had the thought...just yesterday...
    my mom did her best...with the life she had, complete with abuse, and death, and sadness and disfunction..SHE DID WHAT SHE COULD DO.

    Your post made me think about this...
    the mom with the m&ms...
    Mia in your bed...
    Luke with the bag of old Halloween candy...

    we do things that are not always the best for our kids, but at the moment, it is the best we can do.

    all in the hopes of finding a comfy place to cope...

  17. This is beautiful and raw and true. Every mom can relate. Poor kid.

    The M&M mom is being selfish. Too bad she can't see it. I know someone like her; her 11 year old daughter sleeps with her every night, not just because she needs to, but because her MOM needs her to (she's single). She doesn't get it either. (and no, this has NOTHING to do with your sleeping situation)


so... wadaya think?

Your fairy is called Columbine Icedancer
She is a bone chilling bringer of justice for the vulnerable.
She lives in mushroom fields and quiet meadows.
She is only seen when the bees swarm and the crickets chirrup.
She wears lilac and purple like columbine flowers. She has icy blue butterfly wings.