My Facebook memories are typically bittersweet, seeing how big J is getting can be really hard, I want to hold onto my baby boy for as long as I can. I know I’m so blessed to watch him grow but it’s still tough. He’s going into the 5th grade and I just can’t wrap my head around that. I see pictures or funny stories from four, five and six years ago and I can go back to that moment, that day and really remember my feelings. I love remembering the silly and sweet little things he would say or do, he’s always had a great sense of humor and a heart like no other. I look back at pictures of him, of us, his school projects and I’m so thankful for these memories.
Some days, though…it’s tougher to look back on, when I was in the thick of my grief journey, I just don’t like looking at that part of my life. I think for the most part I’m getting better and better about being able to soak in a memory (good or bad) and go on about my day. Well, I had a memory this week that wasn’t so easy to put down. It was a happy memory, I think, more than sad. It made me smile but it also reminded me of a darker time, when my grief was bigger than me. I didn’t know how to grieve, I was lost.
Two years ago, Luke had been gone just a couple of months and this was what I posted a little before 8:00 pm, “Jackson and I were both already in bed. Don’t judge. He just yelled into my room, “You know it’s light out, right?” And “I can tell time now.” His usual 8:30 bedtime got bumped up and I can no longer get away with this on extra sleepy nights. Think he could hear my smile because now we’re both in my bed and he gets to watch TV for “just a few minutes”. Much needed snuggles and smiles. I’m so thankful for such a full of life boy who keeps me, me.”
When I shared the memory I wrote, “Love this memory! My sweet boy always knew when Momma needed him and he always came through, he still does. God gave me you, babe. Being your Mom is my greatest blessing! You’re my absolute, without a doubt, favorite person in the whole world.”
I do love this memory, I’m not sure where I’d be in this life without J. He gives me purpose and brings me the purest joy, I’m overwhelmed daily with how much I love him, how proud I am of him. He’s a great kid! He’s my person. After I shared that memory I really thought about that night and how sad I was. I felt bad for wanting to go to bed so early. I’m sure we went through the motions of the night; homework, dinner, maybe we played a game or snuggled up to watch a movie, but I think back and I know he knew Mommy was sad. I don’t like that he probably felt a sense of responsibility to take care of me, to make me happy. I’m the parent but there have been days I’m sure I’ve needed him more than he needed me.
On this particular night, the night of this memory, I remember that I just wanted to shut the world out. I wanted to sleep, to avoid the reality of where my life was but there was this amazing little person down the hall, he called out for me and made me smile. I also remember how much comfort I felt when he jumped into my bed and we watched an episode of Full House before bed. I wasn’t really watching, I remember silently crying, thanking God for J. I was so thankful for him, as I stated, for keeping me, me. He was my anchor, he still is.
I’m proud of who he is, immensely proud, but I feel bad that he’s maybe had to shoulder more than most kids. I know he worries about his Momma, my happiness. This isn’t the single mom card, I feel so empowered in that role, and I know I’ve provided him with a “good life”. I’ve always been able to take care of him. I only wish I could go back to my worst days and tell him I’m sorry for being sad.
The more I thought about this memory and how awful I felt, over thinking the few really bad days, and not any of our great days, the more I realized that all parents do this. Parenting equals guilt, having experienced loss or not, if you have kids, you’ve taken a guilt trip or two. It’s just the nature of being tasked with caring for someone so precious and the impossible responsibility we feel to be perfect parents.
We have to stop doing this to ourselves. Did we end up in the drive-thru more nights than I care to admit? Yes. Did he see my cry more times that I wanted him to? Yes. Did I let him have more screen time or let him sleep with me some nights because it was just easier? Yep. Guilty of all of the above. Worst of all, I know there were times he saw my anger. I read somewhere the other day that when we’re angry, it’s because we miss someone. That made so much sense to me. I was angry, never at Jack, but he did sometimes get the snippy remark on one of my bad days. Maybe I rushed him in the morning after I overslept because my insomnia kept me up all night, some days I just didn’t have the patience I wished I would have had with him.
It’s hard for me to admit that maybe I haven’t always been the kind of mom I’ve wanted to be. So, here is what I know, with every fiber of my being, I know my son knows how much I love him. I know I’ve done my best and I know he knows that, too. The best compliment anyone has ever given me, came from my son, “you never give up”. I’m proud of that and I guess I can’t really ask for anything else. He’s learned watching me, even when I felt like I should have been shielding him. You never give up.
We’re all doing the best we can do. That’s enough. Will there still be days of guilt? Sure, that’s just parenting but we all need to cut ourselves some slack. Parenting is hard! Anyone who says it’s all sunshine and butterflies is a liar. Parenting is SO hard but it’s also the highest paying job out there. You’re doing the best you can, that’s enough. You’re a good parent.