“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” -Robert Frost
I just read that quote on one of my favorite blogs, Momastery. I am doing just fine today, not feeling super stressed about anything or even feeling all that worried about anything specific which is such a blessing. But I just didn’t want to forget that quote and I wanted to share it because it is so simple yet so profound
I was texting back and forth with a new, lovely friend of mine and we were commenting on how raw, real, and courageous Glennon Melton’s Momastery blog is. I often pat myself on the back, thinking that I am real on this blog. But let’s be honest, I am nowhere near as real as I could be. I use quotes, pictures, and other forms of written prose to explain how I see the world from day to day. I post pictures of our son and discuss the joys and difficulties of having a child with special needs. But I shy away from really putting myself out there because deep down, I am still that college student standing at my dorm room door with my ear pressed against it. Listening intently to make sure that the girls that were giggling in the hallway were not talking about me. I think it will be a life long battle for me; to care less about what people think of me. I keep hearing my mother in my head saying, “Erin, you do realize the world does not revolve around you?” Goodness, she is so right, and I need to get my head out of the sand and remember that when I become self consumed. So in honor of that realization of how much I appreciate when others are being really real,(I will try to use that word about 10 more times in this entry) I just want to share how life has gone on for me, and how thankful I am for that bit of Robert Frost’s wisdom being true for me.
I was driving to MOPS this morning and I was singing along to the Broadway station, and looking back at Evan in the backseat making faces at himself in the mirror. And it occurred to me, when Evan was about 4 months old I started going to those meetings, and my drive there then was very different. I was bleary eyed from waking up 4-5 times a night, nervous to be facing other mothers who I assumed had it together WAY better than me. And truth be told, I would say the majority of moms in our group did (or do) have it pretty together but I had convinced myself of that fact before I even walked in the door. And I was judgey mcjudgerson of myself in the worst way. I was dealing with anxiety, obsessiveness, and just general fatigue from living in my head and worrying if I was being a good mom; if Evan was going to be okay and make it through the day. Yup, I said it, I wasn’t just worried that Evan might have a cold, or that he might develop a rash from the wrong diaper cream. I found myself worrying that he might not make it through the day. I found myself one day looking in his closet, at all his little outfits all lined up in a neat row, and thinking, “It would be such a shame for these outfits to go untouched.” I could picture myself opening up that closet door and crumpling into a ball because I was broken in two from loss. This thought process would happen and Evan would be happily sitting in his bouncy seat, or in his swing, or even in my arms. It doesn’t take Freud or even a google search to figure out that I was still reeling from the loss of my father and baby #1 the year before. I grieved yes, but I pushed a lot to the back of my very crowded mind so that I could help Todd through a tough time and also take care of myself once I found out I was pregnant with Evan. So that unresolved grief and shock from two huge losses in the same week reared its ugly head when I had this little life given to me and entrusted to my care.
As I have said many times, I believe whole-heartedly in counseling and I no longer hide the fact that I go, or that I have for years.I highly recommend you try it. Even if you think you totally have it together. (come on, we are human, and to have it ALL together is just not possible. And if you do, keep it to yourself. 🙂 ) Having an unbiased person listen to your concerns, triumphs, questions….is very freeing. Clearly I got myself on the horn and called my therapist as soon as I realized I could not kick the worry fog after having Evan. The mind is tricky. The most frustrating thing about the type of anxiety I have, is that I know logically that the things I worry about, and the thoughts I am having are irrational. I know it on paper. I know it from talking to my loved ones. I know it because I am a relatively intelligent person. But something is wired differently for me, and when I am faced with big changes or trials, my mind goes into overdrive and I worry. And when I say worry, I don’t mean the type of worry that you can distract yourself from with a good movie or a glass of wine. The intensity is much different and it really breaks me down. I have faced this a few times in my adult life and each time it has been a little different but the cycle of irrational worrying and obsessing is the same. Luckily I am able to face it head on with a combination of different things, one of which is the support of an incredible husband. He was dealing with the craziness of being a new parent, no sleep, feeding issues, etc- and he also had to convince me on a daily basis that everything was going to be okay. This all of course contributed to my mommy guilt and I was so darn angry that being a mom wasn’t as “easy” as I had thought it would be.
Yup, I know….all the seasoned parents are reading this thinking, “Where on earth did she get the idea it would be easy??”Honestly I have no clue. I do know that I have always loved children, I took care of babies for years in daycare settings. So I guess i thought, “How could it be any different than that?” Oh silly silly, naive Erin.
What I realize now, is that parenthood is just something you cannot imagine until it you become one. Until that child is in your arms. Until you take him or her home for the first time, and your family members leave and the casserole dishes are empty and in the sink, and you and your spouse look at each other and think….”Wow, we are on our own.”
But the point of this post is not to put my REAL-ness (how many times have I said it now?) out there and scare anyone or make it seem like being a mom is all tough times. The point was to think about Mr. Frost and how life truly does go on. Because driving to MOPS, I was breathing deeply. I was smiling and looking at my almost 20 month old son and beaming with pride at how he has grown up so much and made so many developmental strides in the past year. I was thinking of how I have made new friendships with really strong, beautiful, honest women who are sharing this road of motherhood with me. As with any thing in life that is tough, or amazing, painful, or meaningful……it will become a part of your history. And life will keep going on. Some days we will welcome the passing of time with open arms. Other days we will put up our arms and push with all our might to stop it from ticking away. But the reality is, we have few constants and one we can rely on, is knowing that “it goes on.” For better or for worse. With some and without some. Feel free to remind me of this.
I challenge to to be real with someone today. On the phone, in a text message, in person, in a blog entry. Open yourself up. You may never know your true impact but you might feel lighter. I know I do.