Okay, actually, that's not entirely true. Back up.
After twelve hours of labor, I was so exhausted, and my brain was so fuzzy that I think I was half-asleep when she finally came out. I have the distinct memory of looking over at her under the warm lights, being tended by the nurses and seeing my husband watching over her. I remember thinking, "Oh. Good. I'm glad there are other people in the room to pay attention to her."
Guys, I was OUT.
But then, we had somehow hazily made it through the rest of the night, and the sun came up. After getting a bit of sleep, and some chocolate chip cookies in me (yup, that's the first thing I ate after giving birth) THEN, then I looked into her eyes, and thought, "I am going to be the very best mama to you ever."
And for a good little stretch, I think I did pretty okay. I nursed her and watched her chunk up, even though every time she latched those first few weeks, I winced in pain thinking, "Is it time to eat again? Oh gosh, I'm not ready." I took her on walks so she could soak the world up, I changed her clothes every time she spit up, and I sang to her during every one of her nightly baths.
Then a few months later, I found out I was expecting...again.
As soon as I found out, I cried. I had just put S down for a nap, and I knew I just wanted to scoop her out of her crib and hold her. I felt like I was letting her down because I felt like I was robbing her of my 100%. But, somehow, I was able to work through the grey early fog that came with baby number two, and tried my best.
Fast forward a couple years. S was 2 almost 3 and J was 1 almost 2. I will forever look back fondly on that year. It was such a special time because I felt like we were the Three Musketeers. We were always out of the house by 10am to do our thing for the day. Some days we'd go to the little beach by our house, or we'd go to the bookstore and play and get a cookie afterwards. Other days we'd go to the pet store or take their scooters to the park. Life wasn't perfect, but it was pretty darn rosy.
Things were rosy, but I was also getting tired. I was tired of trying to make things perfect for them all the time. But, see, I was able to deal with it. I pressed forward.
Fast forward another couple years, and I was pregnant with O. Sof was in preschool, and Pato and I were finally able to enjoy some one-on-one time. I loved having that time with him because he was happy just to cuddle with me and watch Daniel Tiger. But, that's when the guilt started to really creep in. This last pregnancy got pretty brutal during the last trimester, and it's not something I've talked a ton about on here. When I'm in pain or sick I really don't like to talk about it. Maybe part of me thinks if I don't acknowledge it, it will go away? Anyway, without going into so much detail, I'll just say that I think I cried every single day those last couple of months. Usually in the middle of the night because turning over and getting out of bed was so excruciating, I could barely even breathe. I did so as quietly as I could, not wanting to wake up C, who already was knee deep (no, waist deep? neck deep? entirely submerged?) in writing, and finishing up his dissertation. He would always tell me to wake him up so he could help me, but then that would mean waking him up four or five times a night, and I felt so guilty doing so. (Note: if you're pregnant, you have to advocate for yourself. If you tell your doctor something isn't right, make them listen and don't let them brush you off!)
The guilt weighed so heavily on me. Getting in and out of the car was so painful that most days we barely left the house. Some days, we'd go to the museum, and I would find a bench or an empty spot against the wall, and just plop myself down to watch my kids play. I'd try to put on a smile as they would excitedly show me and tell me things, but it broke my heart when I'd have to say, "I'm sorry baby, I can't run over there with you. I'll watch from here." It was around this time that I also realized that I wasn't doing enough to take care of myself. Things that I used to love to do, like write and read, were put on the back burner. And then the back burner was flown across the world and dumped into a hole. It finally clicked that I couldn't be "on" all the time. There was no such thing as a switch that turned on in the morning when I woke up, and off when I went to sleep. I simply couldn't survive that way.
So, what was my answer? It was simple. As much as I wanted to be the world's best mother, or at least the world's best mother to MY kids, I couldn't do it. At least, not in the way I originally thought. The mom who makes a hot breakfast every morning, kept a tidy house (while being on top of the laundry), the mom who didn't have time for herself, but made every day a little more beautiful than the last for her children is just not in me.
Because sometimes I do get frustrated and say things to my kids I immediately regret.
Because some days I just count the seconds till it's time for them to go to bed so I can finally relax.
Because sometimes I shut my bedroom door and beg the kids to please just give me some space.
Because sometimes (a lot of times) I rush too much.
Because sometimes I just really don't want to play another game of Uno.
I let that nonexistent perfect mother go, and I'm learning (yes, still) to love and accept the imperfect mom that I am.
Because a little part of me is happy when one of the kids comes into our bed at night, even though it means I'm left with just a sliver of space.
Because every time I make waffles, I really try to put some extra love in them because I know they're my Pato's favorites. If love could be bottled and put into salt and pepper shakers, I'd sprinkle it all over the place.
Because at least once a day, I try to look hard into their eyes, hoping they can *really* feel that I value them, that I hear them, that I see them.
Because my kids go to bed with their cheeks thoroughly covered in invisible kisses.
Because if there is one thing I can do, it's love them. One thing that I know that I'm capable of doing so near perfectly it's loving my kids.
And most of all, I've learned to accept myself and my imperfections because somehow, my kids have accepted them, too. And they love me anyway.