“Don’t doubt yourself, Mom.”
Head tilted over the railing of his top bunk, sandy blond hair flopping on his suntanned forehead (did we remember sunscreen this week???), he said this with a grounded, matter of fact knowing as he looked down at me, curled-up on the lower bunk, tear escaping down my cheek.
It was a long, full week. There was so much goodness and exuberant abundance. I was engaged. I was on. I was doing all the things. I was being brave. I was investing in my relationships. I was jamming through another big week at work. I got to Friday feeling invigorated. In flow. Almost in awe of the elaborate juggle and all it allowed me to embrace and immerse myself in. And then, after another early start and late finish, I hit a wall.
I’ve seen it happen with him. Fairytale day. Out and about. Sun shining. Birds chirping. Adventuring and making memories. All cylinders firing. Go, go, go. Connected and alive and so powerfully in the moment. And then…crash! Suddenly, he’s all worked up about something. Completely out of proportion. Just exhausted and frustrated. Inconsolable. In those moments, I know it’s time for bed. Time for rest.
Funny how the roles reverse… I found myself in a mood like this Friday night. Things happening at school I never thought we’d be dealing with this early. Projects due that have yet to be begun. The school year is ending and my baby is turning 10! I’m out of my comfort zone as a mom and, intentionally, in all aspects of my life. Mercury is in retrograde. And, our plans to camp for Mother’s Day were crowded out by deadlines and duty. That was the piece that did it.
In that instant, it felt like all I wanted in the world was a moment to bask in this gift of being his mom. It is Mother’s Day, after all. And, I’d blown it. “It’s me, hi. I’m the problem, it’s me.” (Ever a flair for the dramatic, particularly in these kinds of moments…)
And, there in that bed, in the room we’d made just for him, I let it out. When he asked me what was wrong, I told him. As I did, I wondered – Does this make me a bad mom? Will it break him to see I can’t seem to hold it all together right now? Are you still allowed to have tantrums at 42?
Instead, he just saw me. The same way I see him. When he’s down. When it’s hard. He saw me and he saw the doubt that was an undercurrent to all of it. The doubt that was, somehow, invisible to me.
Am I enough? Am I living it right? Can I really do it all? Is it going to be okay?
The thing is, I know I’m not alone. It’s not easy. Period. …And, it’s not easy being a mom and caring more about another human than you can possibly imagine. Caring so much it actually aches. Like, all the time. Dreaming of them. Dreaming with them. And, yet, still having dreams of your own.
Perhaps my greatest gift this Mother’s Day was the answer to my unspoken questions…our unspoken questions: “Don’t doubt yourself, Mom.”