To say that I feel inadequate as a mother, would be an understatement. As a mother, I feel like I am a complete failure. I constantly question my mothering ability. Am I loving enough? Am I motherly enough? Does my daughter know that she is my world? Do I tell her how much I love her enough? Do I show her my love enough? Do I provide her enough of her “love language”? Do I offer enough loving touch? Does she know she gives me purpose in life? Am I ruining her life? Am I setting her up for years of insecurity and seeking professional counseling? Why did God think I could be a mother? Why does God think I can be a mom of two? Do I discipline her too much? Am I too harsh? Are my expectations set too high? What kind of mother am I? Does my daughter think of me as a loving mother? When she is an adult, will she look back on her life with me and be able to truthfully say she loves her mother? That her mother was truly the best? When she looks back at me, will she have great memories? Theses are just a few examples of the many insecure questions that I ask myself numerous times each day. My goal is for her to look back at me and think that I was a great example of love, encouragement, appropriate discipline, friendship, and a mother.
What makes me feel like a failure as a mother?
Social “mom” norms play a part. I realize I parent differently than most. It is something I take seriously. After all, I have chosen to postpone a career, possibly forever, for my kids. I want to raise a daughter that is strong in herself, yet dependent on God. I feel to accomplish this, that I must be honest with her about our society. That it is fine to go against the norm. That the societal norm is not always appropriate with God’s norm.
Every time a note is sent home or after a parent-teacher conference that reiterates my daughter isn’t as social as the other kids her age. That she is intelligent; but doesn’t socially measure up to others. Constantly referring her to therapy evaluations because she wants to play independently. She becomes too “aggressive” if pushed too hard by the teachers or kids to group play. That she “shuts down” afterwards. I am asked to talk to her about “using her words” instead of whining, pointing, or becoming aggressive. (Which she only behaves like this at school. At home she talks ALL THE TIME.) Talk to her about group play. Talk, talk, talk to her about her personality. It discourages me. I do talk to her, every day, until I am blue in the face. I encourage her to play with others, to be more gentle with her peers, and to talk with her teachers. I’ve come to the point that it is a reflection of my parenting. Maybe I need to try harder to be invited to playdates. Maybe I need to talk to her more. Maybe I need to take her out of school. Maybe I need to protect her from being judged.
Then, I talk to her Occupational Therapist (OT). My daughter does have an auditory sensory disorder. It is minor. She just needs to be shown what you mean by the directions you give her. She needs a little more time to process the directions given and to re-direct herself to accomplish the goal. Her disorder also affects her eating. She can be a picky eater because certain textures bother her. Yet, through therapy, she is opening up to more textures. Her OT loves working with her and describes her as highly intelligent, independent, and laid back. However, extremely active; always on the go. While my daughter does participate in distracting behavior; so does some of the other kids in her class. That is where the OT works with her to re-direct her energy into complying with classroom rules.
The OT re-assured me that I am doing a great job parenting her. Even with the minor sensory issue, my daughter is well-adjusted, extremely intelligent (which could add to her discontent in class), and well behaved for her age. I realized that I am not failing at being a mother. I am doing a great job! When my daughter wraps her arms around me, snuggles up to me, and tells me she loves me, she re-assures me. I must be doing something right. I need to take a step back and remember, my daughter has her own personality. So what, if she is more independent than most? So what, if she is more strong willed? So what, she doesn’t want to conform to kids her age? That’s what makes her, her.
Yes, I can do things to help her. That’s why she is going to gymnastics camp, instead of summer school. That is why we are spending a summer together as a family of three, before we become a family of four. That’s why I am going to encourage her to be herself. Let her be a child, and let me be her mother. Will she grow up to love me? To be like me? I don’t know those answers. But I do know, I am not failing as a mother. Not yet, at least.