My precious beautiful girl,
I’m writing this with tears in my eyes as I let you down today. You were tired and hungry and, although no one else would probably know, I could see from the dryness of your skin, the flicker of pink around your eyes and your runny little nose that your body was trying so hard to fight off some bug or other. You were probably struggling on all fronts. But all I could feel was your manic hyperactivity, all I could see was you pushing and poking your friend and his baby brother. All I could hear was your repeated apology only to behave in the same way a moment later.
I let you down today when I let my own frustration get in the way of remembering that you had woken up at 6am and so been awake for 11 hours without a nap. When my anger meant I picked you up too roughly, too quickly, held you too firmly, glared at you too forcefully. You jolted me back to myself when your little voice told me that mine was too loud.
You are such a kind, thoughtful, and aware little soul. You are so gleefully joyful, so full of wonder and delight at the world around you. So desperate for approval and love and care and attention that I fear you will change yourself, just to please me. At times I am so frightened for you, that you will be judged by people who don’t know you like I do, that I fall into the trap of making excuses for you, forgetting that in hearing those excuses, you hear me make an apology for you just being you. What a betrayal that must be, and by the one person who’s opinion actually matters to you! How easily we sow the seeds of shame…
Well my darling, the shame is my own tonight. Whilst my own survival instincts tell me that we all make mistakes, I am trying my best, I too have had little sleep and all the other justifications for just being human that I have a right to make on my own behalf, I am still ashamed. Whilst I reassure myself that I am learning too, that you are resilient, that it’s not the end of the world and hopefully the 9 hours of the day that we shared in loving connection will surely outweigh the 2 hours of manic descent into mummy toddler hell, I must acknowledge the truth of it all.
And the truth is I let you down today. I must allow myself to feel what my heart tells me, through my tears and my regret that I was less of a mother than I wanted to be today.
Because if I allow myself to just stop at the excuses, to just wipe the slate clean too early, to gloss over the pain and bury it in justifications then I risk losing the learning and allowing myself to grow into what is possible for us and our relationship.
Fear not, I have no intention of holding onto this anguish, of using it as a stick to beat myself with or resent you for, but if I am to learn, to grow to be the mother that I am capable of being then I must have the courage to feel this pain of shame and regret. I know that what comes after this place, is healing. I know, in this familiar broken hearted state, that sometimes, something has to break in order to open. If I allow my heart to open just that little bit wider there will be room for more compassion. for myself and for you.
So in my current state of anguish, and shame and failure, I thank you my little living angel. I thank you for the kiss you will give me to wake me up in the morning, for the smile that will tell me todays’ events are all but forgotten. For the open, innocent, expectant face that dotes on your mummy for no other reason that I had the privilege of giving birth to you and I promise that I will keep trying and keep learning and keep hoping that in the end that will be enough.