children scare me. all of them. let me say this one more time: children scare me. terrify, actually. They move in these awkward shifty ways and it’s difficult to know where they’re going to land. like bees — which i’m also terrified of. get them in a group and it’s even scarier. it’s less like a swarm, though, and more like a stampede.
their brains are just as shifty and awkward as their movements. they say the strangest things. sometimes it’s like listening to an alien that’s learning not just English, but human.
somehow i ended up with one of these alien bees.
but he didn’t start out that way. he started out as this cute helpless little thing. This most amazing little thing. my greatest accomplishment. This thing that taught me what unconditional love is. This most amazing treasure in the world.
i realized very quickly that i had absolutely no freaking clue what i was doing. i remember within the first 24 hours still not being able to figure out how to change a damned diaper on such a squiggly thing. this was completely different from the perfectly still stuffed animals that i had mastered diaper-changing on. (note: i’m not entirely sure that i ever actually did practice on stuffed animals. i know only that it would have been a good idea and that even if i had done this, it would be completely different than on a real, live baby that could fall to his death at any moment if i din’t grow another pair of hands so as to both hold down the squiggly miracle and keep the diaper in place and attach the tabs in the appropriate places.)
soon enough we got the whole diaper thing down. we got breastfeeding down. we got bathing down. i started to feel pretty confident in my abilities as a parent.
and then he grew. and grew. these cute little noises started coming out of him. i couldn’t wait for him to talk so i could hear what his voice would sound like. (when it did happen, however, it wasn’t long before i prayed for deafness. or to be stabbed repeatedly in the eardrum. whichever.)
my exhaustion also grew. and grew. this mamma used to be able to pull all-nighters for school. (or partying). i could pull off 12+ hour work days on 3 hours of sleep and still keep going. how was this little treasure wearing me down?! where had all of my energy gone?!
exhaustion turned to frustration turned to resentment. bitter.
they say there’s a thin line between love and hate. it’s true. and it’s awful.
i mourned the loss of my independent carefree life. i began to fear that i was incapable of being a good parent. there were stretches where i thought that he would be better with anyone BUT me. There were days that broke me. completely. there is nothing so confidence-shaking as being a parent. i constantly questioned if i was doing the right thing. what would the long-term implications be? will his therapist judge me? (because i am fucking this whole thing up and there’s not a whole lot of hope that he won’t end up in therapy with a mother like me…)
and then, when he was about 9 months old, i thought i was going to lose him. in those dark days, the darkest days i have ever had, God gave me strength. And it was clearly God because i had zero reserves left. not even fumes. i was empty. dry. lost.
Today we are both still alive. And i am thankful. i wouldn’t trade my little alien bee for the world.
i still fret over his tomorrow. i see how naturally manipulative he is. i see how he gets obsessed over things so easily. i worry for the consequences of his choices.
but i’m learning slowly that there’s nothing i can do about any of it. all i can do is love him. i could worry all day long that i’m being overprotective. other days that i’m too permissive. and you know what? it doesn’t matter. i cannot change his future any more than i can change the weather. all i can do is love and support him. no.matter.what.
and so parenting for me today is like everything else – one day at a time. and i can’t do it on my own. i will be lost. dry. empty — if i try to do it in my own strength. So today i can forgive myself for being an awful parent at times and know that i’m doing my best. It’s all in God’s hands.