I'm fighting a bad bug right now, and it's making me feel utterly crummy. It's called "depression."
Ever since the big bad epilepsy news, and all the harrowing decisions around it, I feel as though I've hit a threshold of my patience. I have very little left, it seems. Every time Geri starts crying (which is about a billion times a day) I feel like I just want to run away and hide somewhere. I sometimes feel that way about Mera and TJ, too. I just want to check out, be vacant, hide out, pull the covers over my head and not have to take care of anyone.
This adoption is, without a doubt, the hardest and most humbling thing I've ever done in my life. See, I've been very proud of my parenting. I have thought, probably all my life, that I would someday be a Great Mom, and then when I became a mom I became convinced of my greatness all the more. Every time someone told me how cute the kids were, I felt like the Great Mom. Every time someone told me how smart TJ is, how cute Mera is, how polite TJ was, how sweet Mera seemed, I felt like this was not a compliment for them, but for me. They were cute and sweet and polite and smart because I was making them that way. Because I'm a Great Mom. Because I'm a goddess among women, able to raise perfect children who ace every test and help little old ladies cross streets and still put an amazing dinner on the clean table when my husband comes home from winning our bread. I'm a Great Mom, look at my happy family and my clean home with pretty throw pillows that I sewed the covers for myself. (That sewing part is true, btw. I miss having hobbies...)
Suddenly, I have a very different kid and the other kids are changing and I am the Great Mom no more. The house is a sty. The meals are less elaborate (and we eat out more). TJ is having issues at school, issues that I can't just fix for him because I'm too tall to blend in with his classmates. "What, I'm not his Mom! I'm a 5 year old girl!" *Pees her pants.* "See?!" Mera is throwing tantrums that you wouldn't believe, and she loves to do this in public. Because it's not fun unless Mom is embarrassed, right? And Geri is disabled. Permanently. No matter what I do about it. She will always be visually impaired. She may never have the cognitive powers of her peers. She might not move out, get married, make babies and play concert piano. I can't fix her. No matter how hard I try. I can't "fix" any of my kids, really. All I can do is my best, and lately my best is feeling like a bandaid on a broken leg.
All of this leaves me feeling totally isolated. I'm convinced that no one knows what it's like to walk in my shoes. No one knows how hard this is, and if I told them, they would think I was mean for not loving my kids more. Because if I loved my kids more, then they wouldn't ever feel like a burden. When Mera throws her fits I should smile and say "She's at that age!" When TJ has a bad day at school I should give him an amazing pep talk and some tutoring at home to turn him around. When Geri throws a tantrum or refuses to eat or sleep I should be saying "The poor dear, think of all she's been through!" instead of growling through my teeth, "Oh, come ON!" I should never lose my patience, snap at someone, let a child sit on the floor and cry, or otherwise be ... well, human.
I am human. Painfully human. I'm aware that, in my humanity, I can't fix everything about my kids. I can't make them, their life, or their home perfect. I want to, but I can't.
Can I share the worst part of it? I feel like a liar. When I take the kids out and people tell me how far Geri is coming and how great the kids are doing, I feel like they would never say that if they had seen us getting ready to leave the house. When I blog about stuff here and people tell me I'm such a Great Mom, I feel like I must have written that all skewed. Did I lie about something, or leave something out? I must have. When everyone tells me what a great thing we're doing for Geri, I feel so fake because this great thing is so hard and I mess it up all the time... not very great. Plus my temptation to feel prideful about this great thing we're doing is always lurking in the background, and I doubt anyone would compliment me if they knew what a hero/martyr I'm making myself out to be.
I'm not a Great Mom. I don't have all the answers. I'm stumbling through about 90% of this stuff, and until the kids are much older we won't know if I'm raising them right or screwing things up. Oh, and did I mention I have a husband, too? Yeah, it's not all on my head only. I'm not the only one working here. Go figure. I forget that most of the time, myself.
I'm not trying to be ungrateful to everyone who just wants to encourage me. I really appreciate all the voices trying to lift me up. But I want to be lifted up by people who know how screwy I am and still think I'm doing my best. I don't want applause from a faceless audience who doesn't see what happens behind the elaborate set design. I want people who know me, and love me, to see my struggles and tell me "you're doing fine, keep going, we're rooting for you and we're here if you need us."
I have a feeling I'm not the only mom who feels this way. And it's not just adoptive moms I'm talking about, either. How amazing would it be if we could all stand together, cry together, ache together, and just be completely real with each other? What if our playdates and mom groups weren't about impressing each other, but about understanding each other? What if we stopped competing and started helping? What if we stopped judging and started really truly caring? What if we stopped hiding and started being right there in each others' messes?
Well, I'm a mess. A real, hot mess. I'm not a Great Mom. I'm a mom who does the best she can with what she has, and who often feels like she's not getting very far with it. But I bet you're a bit of a mess, too, when you think about it. How about we start loving each other's messiness?