Was I enough? I suppose I could also ask it any number of ways; did I do enough, was I good enough, did I praise enough, did I discipline enough, did I teach enough, did I hug enough, did I love enough? I’m talking about being a mom. To my son, in particular. A son who is 17-years old and is now at Fort Sill doing his Army basic training for National Guard.
My questioning of being a good enough parent started before both of my children were born. It started when I found out I was pregnant with my first child, my daughter. Having never had a child before, never being a parent before, never having to be responsible for another human being before, I did NOT want to leave the hospital after she was born.
These nurses and doctors and other professional people wanted to hand over to me this brand new tiny 8 lb. ball of breathing flesh and they expected me to take her home, all by myself? I did have a husband but he was not in my mind at the time. A human being came out of my body and she was mine now, for forever and ever. She was dependent on me to take care of all her needs. I was terrified. I knew me. She did not. She didn’t have a clue. Poor thing. The odds were against her from the beginning.
Then came along my son, eighteen months later. Now, when he was born, I was ready to go home just hours after giving birth. By now, I was a pro. My daughter was thriving, I was thriving and all was well in the world. Just give me my baby boy and let me go home, thank you very much.
The years ticked by like seconds on a stop watch. Only I didn’t realize it until 19 and 17 years later. It’s too late now, I can’t go back and change a damned thing. When I am alone, the question is constantly there; did I do enough? When I see families in restaurants I can’t help but stare at them and I ask myself, did I do enough? Watching a movie about grown kids and empty-nest syndrome I ask myself, did I do enough?
A little piece of me wakes up and becomes fully aware. My heart cries. I cry when I see the movies about fictional families overcoming obstacles. I cry when I see real families at restaurants bowing their heads and being all patient with the little ones. I cry when I see the kids of my friends leave home, all full of hope. But I am not crying for or about them. I am crying because somewhere deep down inside of my soul, I feel I did not do enough. And I pray daily that God be with both of my kids. It is scary and I wish I could do every damned bit of it all over again. I would do everything differently. But this is what I live with now. I deserve this guilt. I did it to myself. It is something I will carry with me until death. I am the only one who feels it, carries it. I feel I have to carry it with me. I feel there is no other choice. I cannot let go. I cannot exhale.
Today, I took an hour out of my weekend to start cleaning out The Manchild’s room. His room is a disaster and I knew it would be a huge job to clean and clear it out. So I promised myself I would only do an hour per weekend. It is all I could handle for a variety of reasons.
Starting in one corner, I thought I’d start clearing out the clutter and trash. I would be ruthless with the loose papers, gum wrappers, and empty soda/water bottles. Sitting down on the floor to go through his one shelf of books and odds and ends, I found a stack of cards. He had saved his birthday cards y’all! Not all of them, just the ones from last year. My heart swelled. Of course I am telling myself he saved them and that it wasn’t just simple laziness in throwing them out himself.
In cleaning my son’s room out, I am able to see some flashes of who he is or is becoming. And it is not the gloom and doom bad things I let my imagination run away with. Perhaps he was paying attention and was able to pick up some good things along the way after all. Not from me mind you, but from all the other folks in our lives. He got the goodness from others.
At any rate, I got the trash out. Next week will be the clothing!