Saturday, April 06, 2013

It's been a while

I often have a lot of thoughts swirling in my head. A lot. I am my own worst critic. I judge everything I do, and often unfairly. At 35, I have a lot of the same insecurities I did when I was in junior high. You would think that 20 years would give me a better perspective on myself, but alas I seem to be a product of those formative years. It makes me wonder if I will ever get over some of those things.

I think I beat myself up daily over what kind of mother I am. I think I do a lot of things right, but I also think I do a lot of things wrong. The hard part comes when I see the things I want to change, and I really want to change them, but I can't seem to change them because of ingrained habit or upbringing or who knows what. I love my kids. I love them a lot. Sometimes I am too hard on them. Sometimes I expect too much out of them. I yell at them way more than I would like to. I'd like to not yell at all. Sometimes I treat them like they are 10 years older than they are rather than like the small little humans they really are. And at the end of the day, I look back on things I did, things I said, the reactions I got or didn't get, and it makes me want to cry. I often do.

I look at other moms I admire and wonder how they can be so loving and patient and kind with their kids. Of course, I know I don't see everything, just the way people who believe I am that kind of mother don't see everything that happens in my house. I compare myself sometimes to other people, much the way I did in junior high. It's kind of ridiculous and unfair. I know I do a lot of things right. I try to teach my kids and play with them and take them out to enjoy different parts of the city. I get them outside to enjoy the sun and fresh air. We learn and we create. But sometimes I wonder if at the end of the day, they know I really and truly love them, which is the most important thing I could have them know. Did I hug them enough or hold them when they asked? Did I tell them I loved them? Or was I too busy making dinner or cleaning up messes? When I realize it was so much of the latter, I want to cry. And often do.

It's a tough balancing act, this role of motherhood. It's so thankless and and yet I get little rewards throughout the day when my kids tell me they love or when I got spontaneous hugs and kisses. I struggle to know how much discipline they need and how much freedom to just be kids they should have.

I can hardly believe I am 35 years old. How did that happen? Twenty some odd years ago, I was a skinny junior high kid, who learned a difficult lesson. Girls can be very mean. Friendships are hard. And being vulnerable and open takes practice. That one took me about a decade or two to figure out. I had a couple of god girlfriends when I started junior high, but over the course of the year, those friends turned on me and turned so many others against me, and I never understood why. I had to sit by myself on the bus. I had to walk to the bus stop by myself when I had once walked with these friends. They left nasty notes in my locker and teased me. It made going to school really hard. It made going to church really hard. I cried a lot. That must have been really hard for my mom. I just wanted to be loved and accepted. I wanted to know if I had done something wrong.

Sometime after the school year was over, they apologized and we were friends again. But the same thing happened the following year and then the year after that. It was torturous. By the middle of my 8th grade year, I became hardened and indifferent. I didn't want to be friends with them. I wanted them to leave me alone, so I could move on and make other friends. In my heart, I had forgiven them, but I didn't want to be around them. It was all so stupid.

As high school commenced, we put all that ridiculous behavior behind us, and we were friends once again. And we have been ever since. I actually consider them 2 of my dearest and longest friends. I admire them as women and mothers. They are beautiful and wonderful people. But that experience made me insecure about friendships with girls. That has never gone away. I was always better friends with guys, never felt judged by them or felt a need to compete or impress them. It has always been that way. But even now, at 35, I am often insecure about my female friendships. I don't have a lot of really close friends. The ones I do have, I have probably had for more than a decade, and if you ask any one of them, they would tell you that it probably took a long time for me to really open up about things that were really personal and important.

As I find myself a happily married woman with three beautiful and wonderful children that I adore. They take up about 110% of my time and energy, which makes it difficult to invest in new friendships, but that doesn't mean I don't crave female friends. I do. I am a woman. I am programmed to thrive on female friends. Most of my good friends have moved away, which makes spending time together difficult. Having kids makes communication difficult because it is hard to talk on the phone or send emails when they are awake. I have a lot of good mom friends, but mom friends are not the same as friend friends. I love them for their example and the validation and companionship they give me through this time of motherhood, but I often miss that deep connection I had/have with my good friends. And I find that I get insecure around them. I feel left out often and wonder how so many of them have managed to connect and become good friends. It's like junior high all over again.

But this is where I am in my life and would not want to be anywhere else. I am happy to be a mother and to devote my time and attention to these little humans that have been given to me. Their happiness is my happiness. I would not want to go back to being single. This has tested me in ways I never knew possible. But my joy is full because of my family. All things will work themselves out in time. Meanwhile, I am truly grateful for those women I call friends, true friends, whether near or far. Their love and support and genuine interest in my life mean the world to me.


Tristen said...

I love it when you post your thoughts, Nikki. My experience with motherhood is so often the same. Except I think it's possible that time is starting to soften me toward myself. My kids are getting older and I'm starting to see them thrive and be successful (also fail, but it seems like normal failures) no matter how horrible I have been at the balancing act or at yelling at them when they can't really understand or whatever. I've cried buckets and buckets of tears, but I've spent my time similarly to you. And it turns out that this works. If you weren't crying about it, I think you might be calloused. I don't know. Also time is helping me to build better coping mechanisms and to find areas of friction and find a different way. I'm realizing that I DO show a lot of love, and they DO feel a lot of love. Babies are so draining, you feel like they just take and take and take and take and need and need and need and you cannot be giving enough. But as kids get older, they still need a lot from you but it's easier to see their gratitude. Or at least to train them to give you the gratitude that you need to survive. :) Anyways, I also agree about the girlfriend aspect of your post. I love to hear your thoughts, thanks so much for sharing. I suppose I had better make dinner now (now that it's basically bedtime). :)

goodekn78 said...

Felt like I was reading my own thoughts, experiences, etc. Love you!