I’ve been thinking about you lately. Images of you have been coming to mind, and I’ve been remembering little things I heard you say here and there, moments when you said nothing at all, and sighs that said it all. All the memories led me to reach out to you. I think bridging the gap between us will help us both.
I know where you are. I know the struggle you are facing because I find myself there at times even now, years ahead of you.
You want to know things, and you do. Recommended reads fill your bookshelves. Books that can’t fit among the rest are stacked in front, above, and beneath the others. Most of them have dog-eared corners and stripes of yellow over the parts that you don’t want to forget. There’s part of you that considers all those books and scribbled notes like they are framed diplomas on the wall of your office as Director of Family Matters. All that determination, the commitment, the time spent studying all the greats have earned you something. You know things.
But, I know the thoughts that creep in when you close the cover of another book.
What if this is it? What if I’m simply the mom who tried hard? What if years from now, all that can be said of me is this: “Well, she read a lot of books and tried to do what they said. She tried to follow the manuals….She tried.”
There’s a battle you feel like you’re in where both the offense and defense is you. On one side, you are the mama who gets it, the strong and able one, the informed, the knowledgeable, certified and Hague approved. You give yourself a proverbial high five when your child successfully performs a redo.
But, on the other side, you think about all the times you wish you had a redo and didn’t. And, you are tired, wondering when you’ll be able to just be normal, if you’ll be able to just be normal, wondering what “normal” even is, wishing some sort of Trauma Nanny 911 would fly in on a cloud and tell you that you’re on the right track because you’re pretty sure that despite all the tools you practice you’re altogether not.
I’m not Trauma Nanny 911. But, I do have a word for you from the frontline. You are enough. Just you. Not you with all your skills and strategies. Just you. It’s really just that simple. I want you to hear that. I want you to read it again, say it aloud, right now, wherever you are… say it… I am enough.
Pay attention — all those strategies aren’t futile. Don’t go burning any books. There’s good stuff in there. But, that good stuff isn’t good in and of itself. None of it is good for anything without you. They are made good by the fact that you are the one doing them.
Your children don’t need perfect strategies; they need you.
I urge you to call a truce. Declare a cease-fire and regroup. Bring both parties to the table and recognize that there’s no battle here to fight; you are on the same side. Surrender the drive to know it all and put it into practice as well as the underlying belief that doing so defines successful parenting. At the same time, surrender the burden you carry and insecurity you have become so good at hiding. Don’t be ashamed of the trying. The trying is precisely what matters.
Your children don’t need a mom who follows the manuals or even writes one. They don’t need a mom who gets it “right” as defined by some expert or some research. They need you, a mom whose efforts and words within them communicate that she knows she’s imperfect and broken but will try hard even still to parent them in a way that puts balm on their broken places.
You are enough. I am enough. When you hear otherwise in the quiet or not so quiet moments, take a deep breath and remember what I’ve told you. You’ll be blessed by it and so will I.