I’m a big podcast fan. I like to binge on good ones like Reply All, This American Life, Terrible Thanks For Asking, basically story-telling podcasts, and I will religiously follow any podcast that leaves me feeling like my life has been changed in some way. I love podcasts so much, I’m even on one.
Last month, during the holidays, I was listening to Jonathan host one of my favorites, Heavyweight (episode #15 entitled Dina) that left me feeling like I got punched in the gut. Parenthood is probably one of the hardest jobs in this life, and if you’re a parent, you probably agree with this sentiment. From the moment you’re handed this tiny bundle and expected to care for it to the best of your ability, you’re questioning your (and their) every move. What’s right? What’s best? How do I know? What if I choose wrong? What if I mess them up? What if my best isn’t enough? What if I’m not enough? I don’t know about you, but I think I “what if’d” my way through the first several years of motherhood, vacillating between feeling like I’m doing a really great job and feeling like I’m the worst mom ever, (and honestly still dealing with the what ifism to this day, almost 10 years into parenting).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware that I’m not the worst mom ever. My kids are well-loved, well-taken care of, and ultimately, some of the most privileged kids that I know. But there is always that feeling nagging me, “Am I doing enough? Am I enough? Will they need therapy when they’re adults because of me?!?” Even a “You’re the best mom EVER!” is hard to beat the feeling of not being or doing enough for our kids.
So in this episode, Jonathan is interviewing his mother about his childhood, and why she is so adamant about being different for her grandchildren. And it takes him a while to get it out of her, but her response is killer. She says “I can’t go back and fix what I didn’t do for you when you were a child, so I want to fix it for them. I want to be different for them.” And there is the crux of my issue. Forget everything that I worked so hard to do right for my kids over the past 10 years, I’m still fretting over what I didn’t do for them.
My youngest daughter, Jordison, lost her second tooth yesterday, (third if you count the one that the sidewalk knocked out for her!) As I looked at her precious, excited face that is rounding out and growing older, and that big, hole-y smile still waiting for it’s big teeth to come in, I just about lost my shit. Here she is, my last baby, about to turn 6 this year, and I feel like there is still SO MUCH I want to do for this little girl who was my little baby just yesterday. Like a flash before my eyes, I saw all of the things I wished I had done for her over the past 6 years but hadn’t. The missed moments that I let pass by, or that I wasn’t present for, the ones that I let my phone or business or being a busy mom or something far less important than her take priority.
All of that time is gone, never to be gotten back. I can’t go back and spend more time snuggling her as a baby, or take her to more parks, pack her up in the wagon and walk her around just because she loves it. It’s gone, and it hurts like nothing else. In that moment, I completely, 100% identified with Dina, and why she felt her grandchildren were her second chance to fix what she didn’t do right the first time. I imagine that will be me when I’m a grandma. And all I could do was relish in the moment of excitement with this little girl that is growing up literally before my eyes. Gratitude and sadness washed over me all at once, it was beautiful and bittersweet.
The moving between chapters of parenthood are both simultaneously beautiful and excruciating. I can go back and forth from excitement for this new time in our lives, each time a new phase comes, watching them grow into these amazing humans that they are already becoming, and in the same breath, longing for their youth of yesterday; the mispronounced words, the endless hugs and cuddles, wide-eyed wonder at the world and everything in it, the innocence, the profound connection by just a look in the eyes. What I’d give to hold one of them as a baby again, just one more time.
What I do know now is this: I am enough. We are enough. And even if they do need to have therapy when they’re older because of me, I will know that I tried my very best with everything I have to give them the best life possible. And this pain, this discomfort that I feel, it’s a part of parenthood that I must sit through and let flow through me, while practicing utmost presence for these kids who are my everything.
If you’re a parent who struggles with something like this, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. I imagine I’m not alone in this, and sometimes sharing in the struggles can help us through to the other side.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading my ramblings. Here’s a session with a family that made my heart soar with joy. I can’t wait to capture them again!
If you’re looking to get your family memories captured, shoot me an email! I’d love to chat with you 🙂