My whole life, my 'cross' has been poor self-esteem. I worked and worked to feel good about myself and no amount of success or accolades could ever fill the hole in my heart that read "you are not enough." This hole propelled me to work myself to the bone trying to find adequacy and worthiness. The only time I felt semi-capable was when I was with children. Thanks to a lifetime of work with and love of kids, babysitting made me feel good about myself. Eason and Annie made me feel like one day I could be good at something, really good at being a mom. I have latched onto that belief and craved motherhood- both because I love children and admittedly, because I wanted something at which I could finally succeed.
Enter July 2010. "Successful" is not the word I would use to describe how I have felt. After a blessed four hours sleep that has me feeling like I spent 9 hours in bed at the Ritz, I can see a little more clearly now. But after the initial adrenaline of MK's birth and Patrick's wedding, I came home to a fatigue I have never known, an onslaught of post-partum hormones and a child who prefers to eat every 6 minutes. I have had a meltdown nearly every day, culminating two nights ago when I was convinced that God made a big, fat mistake. To feel inadequate at the ONE thing you always knew you'd do well is the biggest let-down in the world. I sobbed to my husband and then to my mom convinced that I could not possibly feed her one more time and what kind of mother am I that I don't even want to feed my baby? I sobbed that I should love her more, want to hold her more and should not crave my pillow more than my baby. I sobbed that my prayers against post-partum depression went unanswered and sobbed more watching my husband ask what he should do. We prayed together and I told God that this was all his fault and he better fix it fast since it was, after all, all His fault. We gave the baby to my mother-in-law, let me curl into my husband as I continued to, you guessed it, sob like a baby, and that night, my precious girl gave me 3.5 hours of sleep. I think I scared God too because He pulled us through that night.
It is days like that, meltdowns like that, that I think of my 'Band of Sisters.' I could write another whole post on the support and encouragement of friends being as necessary as water but suffice it to say, I have been upheld by so many ladies in my life. From a text from a mom who has been there that says 'you are normal, this is normal!' to a care package unexpectedly dropped off with gossip magazines, cheese and crackers and every chocolate candy bar in the 7-11, to friends sending gifts for baby in the mail (you know how I love mail!) and even a gift for crazy mommy, to emails just affirming that this is a hard time, to breastfeeding expert friends giving life-changing advice, I have been carried by this support. Some are moms, others are not- it does not seem to matter. What continues is a blessing I've long had of girlfriends who make me laugh during times of insanity, who love me when I am not contributing at all to their lives, who drive to east bumble to hang out with us for 30 minutes, who write a kind comment on this blog, who pray for me when I don't even know it. To every one of you who has taken time out of your day to write a note or blog, to pray, to shoot off an email, to listen to me cry, to have patience with me, to decide to continue caring for us, thank you. I am less crazy because of each of you.
Whew! Now to the good. Since Mary Kate was born, Ross will have moments where he believes we are having a 'breakthrough.' Usually it's when her eyes focus on his, when she gives a little half smile, when she gets through a diaper change without alerting the neighbors to her torture. She saves the good stuff for her dad and sadly I am often too tired to be involved or too happy that I have passed the beautiful baton and am doing something I have needed to do all day (usually showering or teeth brushing). But this morning, on her two week birthday, she saved a little for mom. After a rough start to the night (this child is soo angel by day, NOT angel by night), she finally re-learned how to eat at 2:30 am and when I woke up at 6:00, I was amazed she was still asleep. A quick thank you to God and I was back at the Ritz with my glorious sleep. When she finally woke up a quick 30 minutes later, I happily fed her breakfast while she kept those stunning blue eyes fixated on mine the whole time. She didn't fall asleep, instead putting her little hand on my chest and watching her crazy mother. I layed her in the bed and she continued to look around. We sang 'Jesus loves me' and 'This little light of mine' and I basked in seeing my daughters eyes really, truly open and taking in her world. I told her all about what I wanted to teach her in life. I told her how I hoped she had a love for people and a faith that sustains her like her mama. I told her that I hoped she was the tomboy her dad wants, loving the outdoors and not afraid to get dirty. I told her I hoped she would thrive where her mama is weaker- becoming a strong, confident lady who has faith in her ability to change the world in any way she wants. I told her to never question who God made her. And after this heart to heart, my daughter looked straight at me and smiled. I am smart enough to translate that smile into either a) this lady is off her rocker or b) this lady is about to change one heck of a diaper, but I don't care. Today, my kid smiled at her mom.
We ended the morning continuing our little breakthrough by sitting at the pool and saying our first rosary together on the rosary aunt Caroline gave her from Prague. She only got through 3 decades before falling asleep but I assured her that those prayers won't always put her to sleep! We said them in Latin
I am sure the coming weeks (and lifetime?) will continue to be filled with weeks of meltdowns and weeks of breakthroughs. And as long as her dumb mama remembers that she cannot do one bit of it on her own, but "all things through Christ who strengthens me" (and great friends and a rockstar husband), we might just make it!
Mary Kate, on her one week birthday, last week, being held by cousin Mitch.