Friday, May 11, 2012

Are you mom enough?

Dear Time Magazine:

It hasn't been a great week in motherhood for me.  You see, I have a chronic and degenerative disease that impacts my life every day.  Some days, I just deal with the fact that I live in a cocoon of pain, and other days I get lost in it.  This week, I have been devoured by the pain in my own body, and that's not left a lot to give anyone else; this includes my husband, my son, my job, and my own sanity. 

Yesterday, I was scheduled for an intravenous medication infusion to treat this disease.  I fought my way up the stairs, carrying my son, while biting my lip and praying under my breath that my knees would hold out to get him to the top of the stairs without dropping him.  He's 18 months old, and is really pushing to find his own boundaries in this world.  He has no real concept of how to manage his own emotions, and has been having flares of temper and frustration that come out like tantrums.  It was just one of those mornings where he wanted to push at the limits.  While I was changing his diaper, he stuck one hand in his own mess and planted it on my chest.

I burst into tears.  I lost my temper.  I yelled at him, saying,  "JUST LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE."  I took my shirt off and threw it on the ground, cleaned up his hands, and cried through changing his diaper.   Then I put him in his crib and I walked into the bathroom, sat down on the toilet, and put my head in my hands and sobbed.  He cried from his crib, and I cried in my hands, and I said to myself "I AM A HORRIBLE MOTHER."  At that moment, I hated him for not cooperating.  And I hated myself for not being able to deal with this new phase.  I hated the pain in my body, and I hated that I have no control over it.

After I calmed down a little, I went and got him.  I hugged him and said "I love you, I'm sorry" over and over.  I got him dressed for school and let him play in his room a bit while I finished getting ready.  It was Daddy's day to take BabyBoy to school, and I walked them to the door.  BabyBoy put both hands on my cheeks and offered up his face for a kiss. 

"Baaah-Bye Mama!", he said, cheerfully.  I started crying again.  "Jesus, what is WRONG with you?", my husband asked.

"I"m a horrible mom.  I don't deserve him being so sweet to me when I lost my temper and yelled at him and, and..." words turned into sobs as I leaned my head against his shoulder.  Hubby patted me and said "I can't do anything about this right now, you're not a horrible mom, but we have to go."

I waved goodbye, and sat on the couch to cry some more.  I finally pulled myself together and got in the car, to hear a discussion about your latest cover story "Are you Mom enough?" about attachment parenting, breast feeding, and complete with an incendiary cover photo of a three year old standing on a stool, breastfeeding from a cute, young mom in skinny jeans.

Thank goodness, Alien Mom is Mom Enough.

If I had to classify myself as a mother, I would say yes, I am a believer in attachment parenting.  But here's the thing, my body, my disease did not allow me to be the kind of attachment parent I wanted to be.  I couldn't wear my son in a sling because I have 4 vertebra that are fused together from degeneration caused by arthritis in my back.  I wanted to breast feed him until he self- weaned, but I couldn't because I had to wean him at 4 months in order to go back on medication that would at least prevent further damage from occurring, even though it can't give me back mobility or pain-free movement.  Each time I've had to make a decision that's prioritized my own health and longer term prospects ABOVE the way I want to mother my son, I've gone through a period of beating myself up over it.

Basically, my first reaction is to say, "Hey, fuck you Time magazine.  Who are you to call me into question?  Who are you to put me and my decisions up against other mothers and make it some sort of competition?"

After a good nights sleep, and the beginnings of some pain relief after yesterdays treatment, I'm still pretty mad at you.  Even without extenuating circumstances (And let's face it, we all have extenuating circumstances), being a mother is really hard work. 

Instead I will say, "You know what, Time magazine?  I'm not perfect, but I'm doing the best I can.  I fuck up on a regular basis, but my little boy still kisses me and smiles and it's like Christmas morning.  I can't carry him in a sling, but I can teach him to be strong and to stand up.  I can't nourish him from my body, but I can teach him to be loving and care for others.  And I can support my sister-mothers through their own struggles."

So, in answer to your question, Yes.  I am MORE than enough, in my own way. 


Not Perfect

P.S. - Fuck you, Time Magazine


  1. Can I point something out to you? You had a child while suffering with some very serious physical conditions. You gave birth with some very serious emotional concerns. You breastfed as long as you could. You give Zac everything he needs and probably everything he wants too. You work full time and are a mom full time. You provide for him and play with him and love him despite how some days you probably just want to stay in bed.

    So not only are you "mom enough" you're pretty damn awesome at it! Don't look at the things you can't do... look at all the things you CAN do! :)

    1. Thank you, Jerusha. The way you are with your girls inspires me, and I appreciate your love and support!

  2. What a great post. I felt that way too when my first child was a baby. I felt like I had to be perfect all the time, but the reality is parenting can wear you down, you can lose your temper, and feel less than perfect at times.

    Embrace the imperfection, knowing you are doing your best.

  3. Nice job, Tanya. Not just with the blog, but with motherhood too!

    1. Thank you, Leigh! It am so hapyp that you and Terry are a part of our lives to witness Z's growth and evolution. And knowing you think I'm doing ok means the world to me!