Every mother wants to be a great Mom. Or at least every mother worth a damn. But we all fall short of perfection and when we do we can feel guilty. A mother’s guilt can be very strong, almost as strong as a mother’s love. After all its that love that causes us to strive to give our children the best, to be the best. When we fail, it can be very hard.
For the IVF Mom, the guilt can be even more profound because from the very beginning we set the bar high. Unreasonably high. At least that is the case for this Mom. I think its because we have all had some version of “that moment.”
I don’t remember my specific moment, but I imagine for most of us it goes something like this:
You are at the grocery store minding your own business and you see that woman. The one with three kids. All three kids are disheveled and all three kids are misbehaving. Their mother? She looks like she hasn’t slept in a week. Her skin is tight and looks old. She is wearing pajamas. Her hair looks like something could be living in it. This woman who is triply blessed is clearly squandering it. She is screaming relentlessly and uncontrollably at her kids. You can tell she is fighting the urge to swear or even possibly get physical with the kids. Your heart breaks for them.
Right then and there you promise God, even if you don’t believe in God, that it will never be you. You will never be that Mom. If he just blesses you with a child you will always have it together. You will be the picture of perfection. You will read every book and give this child the most amazing existence ever known. If only you could have a child. You will never yell at your child. Never.
I promise God. Please. Just give us a baby.
The pursuit of perfection for the IVF Mom begins shortly after we find out we are pregnant. We would never complain about pregnancy symptoms like some women do, we have waited to feel like hell for so long! When we finally bring home our baby we swear we will smile at every 3 AM feeding. We commit to following every rule. We vow to play with our little one, not put her in front of a television. We certainly wouldn’t have an argument in front of her or get frustrated with her. We will follow our routine and will give her safety, warmth and love. We will not hit. We will not yell.
While I have not hit her and never will, I have done everything else wrong. I did indeed smile at every 3 AM feeding. I never once was annoyed or troubled by getting up in the middle of the night. That is because Spork started sleeping through the night at around 8 1/2 months. My commitment to being the perfect Mom and ability to achieve it didn’t wear off until well after a year. It was a good long run, but inevitably we are all human. Not perfect. Far from it.
Spork is two and I only really yelled at her for the first time last week. After a morning of continuous whining on the part of both my husband and daughter I finally stopped the whole household cold by yelling “Spork!” (insert real name here) at the top of my lungs. That’s it. One word. My little girl cried uncontrollably for 10 minutes. She was inconsolable. Who knew that I had such power? I vowed never to do it again. I am sure I will break that vow.
This topic is top of mind for me today because Spork and I were both home sick together all day. Even though the little miracle was incredibly ill, I was annoyed at the three loads of pukey laundry I had to do this morning when I was sick myself. We watched television on the couch almost all day. Once she felt well enough to stop watching television she started with the non-stop whining. Again, I was annoyed.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a good day at home with my favorite girl. We had amazing moments of cuddling and snuggling. We spent the majority of the day in what I call “The Love Bubble.” But moments of joy and love were frequently interrupted by moments when I was ready to take her to school and go to work just to get away for five minutes. Sick or not.
My fallibility really became apparent when I found myself deeply disappointed that Spork awoke from her nap right when I awoke from mine (thanks to Don Diego, the family dog). I was hoping to read a little before we hit the couch for sickly snuggle time again. Ahhh.. reading. I miss it so!
There was a time not so long ago that I used to wait for Spork to wake up from a nap with anticipation. I would watch the monitor for any sign that she was about to wake, eager to be reunited with the love of my life. While that still happens at times, I usually savor every second of nap time and hope that it will go on longer than it does.
Maybe other Moms make it longer than I did. Maybe other Moms are better. I am sure there are those who would have prepared some activity they found on Pinterest for when their sleeping beauty was up and feeling better, even if that Mom was sick like I was today. But somehow I think most of us eventually have moments like that Mom in the grocery store with the three errant rug rats.
Today my skin looks tight and old. I look like I haven’t slept in a week. My hair looks like something could live in it. I was in my pajamas all day. It was a really difficult day with my miracle baby and I was far from perfect.
It was a day I wouldn’t trade for the world. And in truth? I don’t feel that guilty. I am a good Mom. An imperfect but good Mom.
For those of you who are still waiting for your Spork, I don’t blame you for judging me and my annoyance with my daughter. I felt the same way you do, that it could never be me. I could never be annoyed at my child or want time away from her. I pray that you some day too will have the chance to fall from grace. You will, and even though you will feel a little guilty, it will be wonderful.