One of the things that always seems to catch me off guard the most about being a mama is when I have moments (or entire days) of doubt about whether I am really doing this whole thing right. I mean, I love my girl. Love her, love her, love her. And that right there is enough, I know it is. In my heart, I know it is. But sometimes, my head goes round and round, and I get little cracks in my usually solid foundation that allow thoughts of "Maybe I'm not doing it right". "Maybe what I think is the best I can do, just isn't enough."
I worry, but not always just about things I would formerly have thought to be the "scary" parts of parenting; accidents, illness, phsyical harm (don't get me wrong, I spend my share of worry on those, too, whooboy). But I find that I am equally, and probably more rationally, worried about things that are harder to prevent, and maybe harder to heal. I worry about her heart; I mean, I worry about someday when her world will really stop being full of only love and protection and joy. That she will, as we all have, endure sadness and fear and frustration and guilt and anger. I can already feel that letting go of being able to hold her emotions softly cupped in the palms of my hands is going to sting, and the first time she experiences real hard emotions will probably sear my own heart just as much.
And just like other mamas I have talked with, I worry that the choices I am making for now, and for our future, aren't always the right ones. I know we are all doing the best we can with what is in front of us, and that has to be "good enough". I know that there's no sense in comparing what one person does to another, because we really are all dealing with unique circumstances. But, sometimes it's hard not to compare to others who seem to be doing it all right, all the time. I've read a few things lately about a newly refueled "Mommy Wars" - my understanding of the whole thing is that it is essentially arguing about who "works" more: Mamas who stay home versus Mamas who work outside the home. I do not disagree that all of us are "working". Hard. It's just that we are working differently. I have been a full time nanny. I know what it is like to care for little people all day long. I always felt I was underpaid for the amount of work and stress it could be some days! And there's no tangible "payment" for raising children, and when you are home with your own, your investment is SO much more than if you are just watching someone else's for the day. But now I also know that it is a whole different kind of diffcult to work away from my family all week, and then still have the work of being Mama at home. And I think, really, when I feel those pangs of defensive Mama Bear rise up in me when talking about which is harder - "SAHM" or "Working Mom", I'm really just feeling so deeply insecure that what I am doing for our family isn't the Very Best Thing for my child. I know that some would say I made a choice to have a child and I should stay home and raise her, and if I can't do that I shouldn't have had a child. And that makes me feel.so.guilty.
Norah gets to spend two days a week with her Daddy, two days a week with her Grandpa, one day a week with her Grandma, sometimes a day with her Auntie. She is surrounded with love, attention, laughter, joy, and family who gets all of those things back in return just from sharing days with her. I have never, ever resented the fact that when I am away, family is there for her. But that doesn't mean I don't miss her fiercely, almost all day, every day (I say almost, because, you know, there are those moments when any parent can understand why some species are inclined to eat their young). It's the classic "Working Mother Guilt" syndrome that is not a novel or unique concept to mamas around the globe, but I am feeling that it very deeply describes where I am some days.
I write these words, because someday I want to be able to tell her that every single decision I have made since I knew we would be sharing our lives with her has been for her, and because of her. I know she won't fully understand, probably until she's almost 30 and maybe not unless she's ever a Mama herself. But I want her to know that no matter what decisions I make, how much I find out I have screwed up and back-step to figure it out all over again, I Love Her. And I hope she will think that I am Good Enough.