On grace

Hey moms – being human is ok after all

I’m typing right now from the couch of a hotel in Ottawa, Canada. I’m pumping at 12:13 a.m. local time to provide for the little bug who’s sleeping in the other room.

The other morning, Charlie and I loaded up and waved goodbye to my husband and John and headed off to the airport for my business trip. My mom – Grammie – met us here in Ottawa so she can tend to Charlie while I work during the days.

By Jess Heid john's mom works

By Jess Heid
john’s mom works

It’s an arrangement that works well. My husband doesn’t have to go it alone with the exclusively-breastfed 8-month-old AND the highly spirited 4-year-old. I don’t have to be completely away from my family. Grammie gets some special one-on-one-time with her youngest grandson.

So why do I bear so much guilt? Why, when I should be sleeping, am I instead wide awake and thinking?

* * *

It seems that with mothering comes a great deal of feeling guilty. The I’m-never-quite-enoughs collide with the am-I-making-the-right-choices and the I-want-to-do-right-by-my-families and leave me feeling pretty befuddled.

Perhaps never has that come to a head quite so much as the moment last week when I found myself in the kitchen, ugly crying and screaming at John as he, red-faced and tear-stained, shrieked “I don’t want you anymore.”

Here is this beautiful child, this sweet and smart and amazing creature, and here am I, his inept mother just trying to meet his needs. I am so painfully aware of my own inadequacies, my own tendencies, my own issues, and how they are reflecting right back into John, and I have never felt so small and terrible in my life.

Once we had all calmed down – which we did, the moment passed quickly – and John had settled to bed, I retreated to the support of an online mom community I frequent.

These amazing women quickly rose to the occasion, assuring me that I was not, in fact, the worst mother ever to walk the face of the planet. That I was not, in fact, ruining my son. That my very concerns were an indication that I was a good parent who was trying hard to do right by my family.

And as I listened, I was struck by how very like their words were to my own advice to friends in similar situations. I could almost parrot the same phrases, having spoken them – having MEANT them – more times than I know.

I felt uplifted by these moms, of course. But I also caught myself wondering: why, when I could offer such compassion to others, am I so unable to offer it to myself?

Why are my stumbles reflective of deep-seated emotional failures, while others’ missteps are human errors in the process of doing the best we can? Why am I riddled with guilt when the advice I would give to my own self would be, “It’s ok, mama, you’re doing the best you can. Hug your child close; tomorrow is another day?”

Why is it so hard, in my heart, to grant myself the grace that I know, in my brain, I deserve?

So hear this, parents – if you are trying, if you are working, if you are fighting the good fight, if you are striving to be a good parent and do right by your child, if you are feeling guilty and terrible and downtrodden and shattered, hear this:

It is ok.

It is ok.

Give yourself that grace to be human.

It is ok.

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  • Camilla Hudson

    This is so true. Children do not come with manuals. Good parent do the very best they can. It’s alright to make mistakes. That’s how we learn. We are all human and are allowed to make mistakes. Children are very flexable and will do just fine.
    Just know you are awesome and the center of your child’s life.
    They loved you first….

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