Caution: I am about to say a thing that is going to make you feel awkward and uncomfortable. I am not apologizing for that but I am providing fair warning. I am about to talk about something I have long wanted to say but couldn’t find the courage. It’s hard to tell this icky, hard, unsanitized part of my story, but I need to make the comment that begs making.
This article kept circulating and getting shared in my news feed today. And the thing that has long been bubbling around in my heart begging to be said reached a rolling boil and I started to feel the steam rise and pour out.
And then the amazing Sarah Bessey went and wrote this, and gave me the courage to go ahead and dig into the trauma that hides behind my smoking heart.
So here is what I have to ask you all, beg you all really.
I know what you mean when you say it, and I know you mean no harm. But, please, can we stop making the baseline measurement for not having your motherhood badge revoked “keeping the children alive”?
We say it often. It was a terrible mothering day, but hey, I kept everyone alive. In case you don’t click to read the article above, it ends with this clencher that so many moms I know are just loving.
The goal isn’t perfection. The goal isn’t baking cookies and Pinterest projects and a picture worthy of posting on Facebook. Sometimes the goal is simply to keep everyone alive. And that doesn’t make you an unfit mom. That just makes you a normal one.
I know the relief with which some moms receive this affirmation. I get it. I really do.
But, you see, the thing is, according to this paradigm, I am an unfit mother.
Because one day, I was at home with all my kiddies, doing everything right, even being a little Pinterest-y, and I didn’t manage to keep all the kids alive.
My child died on my watch.
And if the one final step that keeps you off the unfit mother chart is keeping everyone alive, well, then, there’s no use in even trying, because I have already crossed over.
So listen, I am not trying to take away your relief, mama. I really, really want you to have it. I want you to have freedom from feeling like motherhood is a competition won by the craftiest or the most creative or the most patient or the darlingest. I really, really do.
And I know no one who uses that measuring stick means to make my stomach do a back flip and then sink to my toes dragging my heart with it.
But, friends, I just wanted to finally be honest. That is exactly what it does.
So may I suggest some other ways to define a motherhood free of competition and performance anxiety? One that I still qualify for?
- If you have loved all your kids and apologized for your mistakes today, you are not an unfit mother.
- If you have used your skills to meet your kids’ needs today, you are not an unfit mother.
- If you care about whether or not you are a fit mother, you are not an unfit mother.
So there it is. I said it. I lost my son six years ago. But my heart still bears the scars of the trauma. And it is sensitive.
If you could hold it tenderly and erase that one line in the sand and replace it with a new one, I would be ever grateful.
And I bet I’m not the only one.
Love you, warrior mamas. Soldier on.
PS….You don’t have to comment and tell me that I am a fit mother. I know that with all my heart. The title I chose to make a point. Love on, lovelies. Just stop saying that thing.