Oh my poor, sweet girl.
You’re having a bad day. It’s okay. Breathe. Having a bad day doesn’t mean it will turn into bad week into a bad month into a bad rest of your life. And it doesn’t mean that you are bad mother. Or that your boy is a bad baby. It’s just a bad day. You remember what Alexander’s mother tells him on his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Some days are like that. Breathe.
There are a few things I want you to know. You are doing a good job. No matter what kind of job you are doing today, you are doing a good job raising your boy. No one has ever been a better mother to that boy, and no one ever will be. Breathe.
I know you love your boy. Even when you swear you’ll sell him to the gypsies, I know you love him. Even when you get so angry at him it scares you, I know you love him. Even when you question, in the darkest part of your heart, if you even want to be a mother anymore, I know you love him. Even when you wonder if you even love him at all and hate yourself for it, I know you do and I love you for it. Breathe.
I know you’re shocked at how easily you can spin out on a day like today. I know you have never felt such a lack of control over your emotions in your entire life. I know you’re scared that this experience has shortened your fuse (that lovely long fuse that burns so slowly and is so easily put out and that you are very proud of) and made you into an impatient, snarly, teeth-gritty version of yourself. It’s okay. You’re still you. You are the youest you’ve ever been. You’re just a stranger in a strange land, learning to adapt. You are learning on the fly a game that has no rules. (And you’re winning that game, by the way.) You can’t know what you don’t know until you know it. Apply that lovely long fuse to yourself. Give yourself some more time to adjust to the emotional and physical chaos. And when you think you should have gotten a handle on all that by now, give it more time. Breathe.
I know on a dark day like today, you sometimes worry that all the changes you are going through mean that you aren’t the girl your husband fell in love with anymore and that he’s going to wake up any day now, out of love. That is poppycock, plain and simple. You know it, I know it, the American people know it. First of all, of course you aren’t the girl your husband fell in love with. That girl was eleven years old. He’s loved you every single day since then. That kind of love is here to stay. Secondly, love is fluid and elastic and can take a beating. Keep talking to him. Tell him you’re worried he won’t love you if you get angry and frustrated and sad. Then watch him laugh in your face and kiss your tears away. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
I know you really, really scared yourself when, at the end of your fraying rope, you were too rough with the baby. It’s okay. He’s okay. I forgive you. You learned a valuable lesson on where your limits are and next time, you’ll put him in his crib two minutes earlier. You can let that go. Seriously. Let it go, girl. Breathe.
I am so proud of you. I am proud that you are a living example of how powerful and important a sense of humor is. You show your boy every day that a day without laughter is a day wasted. I am proud that you are filling his childhood with music. You have tasked Mozart and Bach and Rodgers and Hammerstein and Hall and Oates and so many others to paint the soundscape of his life. What a lucky boy! I am proud that you are reaching out for help when you need it, that you are casting aside the destructive illusion that because you are The Mother you have to have it all figured out on your own. You don’t have to be the perfect mother. You just have to be the mother who has kept her son and herself alive and well for another day. The rest is gravy. (And yes, you will figure all the gravy out, too. But that’s for a brighter day than this.)
The sun will set on this terrible day and you will have won the great battle of Being a Mother vs Figuring Out How to be a Mother. Remember that you are not alone. You have an army of support behind you, cheering you on and ready to throw a shoulder to the yoke just as soon as you ask. Most importantly, remember that you always have the strongest weapon in your arsenal…. me. When you need to be the you that is small and scared, I will be the you that is strong and sure. I will see you through this.
Tomorrow will be better. Pour yourself a cocktail. And breathe.