Part of being a parent is fearing that you will without a doubt every time and always irreparably ruin your child. Most parents will know this, no matter how hard they try or how well they are actually doing.
This fear is real.
You really want to be the very best person you can be for them but sometimes when the world swallows you up, when the people of this world emotionally and physically tarnish this better version of who you are trying so hard to be, well then…. you’re just fucked and you can’t be that person after all. Cue the guilt.
My daughter is three years old and I also have an eleven year old and a four year old boy.
I worry quite often that I am not good enough as a mother for them.
I consider the truth. That if I had known then what I know now, the things I have learnt about myself and the depression I would endure, then expose them to, then I believe I might have decided not to have had more children. It just doesn’t seem fair to them because every time I go to that dark place I feel like I am letting them all down. I am altering the life they could have and the memories they have of life with me.
I worry that I’m not good enough, that I will ruin or taint them with who I am and the experiences I have had, new science shows us now that trauma is passed through our DNA (click here for more info) . I did that to them, I have potentially passed on my anxiety, depression and PTSD just by being their mother.
I imagine the perfect parenting would be to plant them here in the earth, in the soil of the world, leave a single light foot print in the soil as you take a single step backwards to remember me by. Then nurture, water and love them from afar. Allowing them to grow with minimal interference from me.
I like to assume that if it were like that my kids might have a better chance at becoming well adjusted human beings, not like their mother.
Last night I stood barefoot in the driveway in my track pants and hoodie, my arms folded across my chest while shifting from one foot to the other to keep warm in the late night air, the street light giving a dim glow on the street above our house. We hugged our friends goodbye, our bellies full and minds a little numb from the copious amounts of asian take away, snacks and alcohol consumed in mere hours.
They left in the taxi and we stood waving and smiling as they left.
Batman and I turned and we headed into the house, calling Beemo (the dog) inside, she bounded past our legs and into the lounge room, I headed down the hallway to check on the kids. I walked into our room where our little girl slept peacefully under our cane bead head and night light. Her golden curls splayed out across Batman’s pillow and her soft little arms are lifted up and over her head. Batman came up and stood next to me and we watched her, silently in awe of her. She ground her teeth and Batman exclaimed as quietly as he needed to to not wake her “She’s never done that before” as he silently panics that she’s going to ruin her teeth forever. We continued to watch on, she shifted around in the bed, we continued to watch her like we were two new parents watching their newborn baby in the hospital on that first night alone. I felt cosyness, love, warmth and happiness.
Batman looked at me, half bent over the bed watching her little face in total adoration as he said to me quietly:
“She’s going to be a woman one day”
I sighed “She’s going to be a better woman than me one day”
“Mmm, no” he replied
“She’s going to be a better woman because of you one day”
So maybe being the best parent you can be is being the parent you already are.
Maybe the best version of yourself is exactly who you are at this moment.
Maybe the fear is just part of it, the fear makes you a better person because if you fear you’ll ruin those kids, most of the time you’ll rise to the challenge to try and be better next time, always striving to be better than before.
Maybe it doesn’t matter how good I am or you are at this parenting gig, maybe all that matters is that we are trying as hard as we can to be better people for them, that what I am doing is just fine. What you are doing is just fine.
I can’t change who I am or what I have already been through, or even who they see me as nor the memories that I leave them with when I die. I am not in charge of that. We can not change how they know us.
All I can leave them with is the memory of someone they loved, someone they loved regardless of the life, the turmoil, and struggles that were had.
I will be a memory of someone they loved. Regardless of what I did or didn’t do.
Our kids might be a little bit better than us, but they can be better because of us, because we strived to be better for them.
Phewf… Got it?