I’ve been a mother too long; I’m weary with it. Not all the time. It comes in waves. I’m aching to tell you that I love them both desperately and I’d die for them; without this disclaimer every tap of the keyboard is tinged with guilt. But that’s what’s worn me down. The guilt… Constant and gnawing.
At 33 I’ve learned enough from life to know you really just have to answer to only yourself. There’s no inherent justice in the things that happen to us, but you’ll be happy regardless if you know who you are. Our parents were right. Life’s not fair. Growing up means accepting that it doesn’t need to be. That’s missing the point. If you live only by your own standards, you’ll be happy.
The motherhood-guilt comes from being unable to answer only to yourself. The person that I am is raising two new women for the world. I’m forever accountable to them. I have to be a good person because I’m how they see the world.
Making choices is simpler when I ask myself “what would I want my adult daughters to do” Three years ago my answer was ‘yes’. I would want them to leave a relationship that made them numb themselves to the world because they couldn’t bear to see what they were missing. Even if that means their children come from a ‘broken home’. I made that decision selfishly, I wanted to leave, but I would have wanted them to leave too. Now that the painful process is behind us. I see my babies and I did the best we could and it feels like enough. We all came out of a shitty situation in the best way we could.
I settled down young and had children barely out of my teens because I didn’t know of anything different. It’s what my mother did. I didn’t consciously choose it, I just slid into a mould I didn’t see. I hope my children see me and all the wonderful single women around me and think nothing of moving out of my home into a house of their own. Paid for by their efforts and all the better for it.
I know I’m doing the best I can. The guilt comes from knowing now that my parenting is only as good as the person I am. And I often feel like that isn’t good enough. Guilt is an inescapable facet of motherhood. As soon as the pregnancy test confirms what your swollen breasts have already told you, you remember the cigarette you just crushed out and the hangover you had the day before. Seemingly trivial guilt that blossoms, unavoidably, into deeper guilt that you know will be with you forever.
And it wears you down. The guilt is there because you love your children, but its still there and it taints everything. That why grandparents love being grandparents. They can enjoy their grandchildren. I hope my daughters make me wait for the joy of being a grandparent, but I suppose thats only ever going to be their choice to make. So the voice in my head reminds me that they will make better choices only if I’m good enough….