If I had known being a mother would be full of so many tearful moments I may have reconsidered. But I'm glad I didn't know. Perhaps I would have missed out on one of the greatest experiences of my life...being a mother. But back to my crying.
It’s going to sound silly...but this is my truth and I’m not ashamed to share it.
See, I was dropping my son off to preschool like I normally do. I gave him his kisses and cuddles and proceeded out of the building to my car. On my way out, I noticed at least 3 students coming in with either papers, trinkets or dressed in a costume of sorts. Immediately, my heart sank! I hopped in my car, checked my email and confirmed my fears. My son had a small project or “show and share” due TODAY. SMH.
His specific assignment was to report to his class, one fact about Asia and to bring in an item that represented that fact. I was well aware of the assignment but assumed it was for the following week. As soon as I realized just how WRONG I was, I went into panic mode...but quickly morphed right into Mommy Mode.
I googled “Asia facts” and the very first thing I saw was Japan and its flag! I thought to myself...”that’s it!” So I scrambled through my car to find an old 8x10 piece of paper...which also just happened to be a receipt for an oil change. I neatly folded and tore out an even square. Then, I dug through my center console like a crazy woman and by the sheer grace of God found a handful of small circular felt pieces. And one, yes, just ONE, happened to be RED. I don’t even know exactly why I still had those felt pieces...they were supposed to be a part of a car air freshener, but they never actually worked, so I should have trashed them months ago. But clearly, they had a purpose...at least one of them did.
So I ran into the the school and went straight to my son’s class. His teachers looked surprised to see me back and asked what I needed. I kindly and quietly requested a piece of tape and my son. One of his teachers said “oh yeah, he told us he forgot his show and share...and we told him it’s totally okay.” I smiled big and replied “no it’s not...but thank you.”
My son ran over to me with his sweet, shy smile and said “mommy, what am I going to use for show and share?” I pulled him in close and showed him the flag I made in the car. I rehearsed his one line fact about Asia with him and gave him the biggest hug and kiss ever. He walked away from me smiling from ear to ear and said “thank you Mommy.”
I stood up, let out a deep exhale and smiled at his teachers as they gave me a reassuring wink and thumbs up. Then, I ran to my car and the waterfall started. I could not even control myself. I had to sit for a few minutes before I drove off. Once I calmed myself a bit, I called my husband and explained to him what happened. He was surprisingly supportive (we’ve been married more than 12 years now so he’s starting to understand some of the emotion associated with motherhood...lol). Upon venting to him, I came to realize a few reasons why I was crying and I want to share them with you.
First, I understood that some of what I was dealing with had to do with my own stuff. Childhood traumas that I had experienced included not always having what I needed and occasionally feeling left out. The thought of my children having those feelings stings to my core and I think I work extra hard to make sure they never do. Maybe so much so that I overwhelm myself a bit. There is room for growth there but I am fully able to acknowledge what is happening, so that is a good thing.
Secondly, thinking about my own childhood traumas makes me think of my mother who passed away earlier this year. As I approach the one year anniversary of her death (that I have tried and tried, but have not yet been able to write about), the feelings of nostalgia, sadness and longing stir up inside of me and I just need a good cry to let them out. My childhood was not the easiest and I had a lot of struggles, especially once I lived with my my mother full time again, at age 11, but I fully understand that my mother did the very best that she could with everything that she had. Experiencing this moment (and many others with my children) always takes time to a place of yearning for my mother. We had established a very close relationship in my adulthood and I just wanted to have her with me and my children longer.
Lastly, I recognized that my tears were also a result of what many primary parents likely experience. That feeling of knowing that most things rest on your shoulders and you start to believe that you HAVE to be on point at every moment of every day. My husband, who is a present father, works 50-60 hours each week...so 80% of the “kids stuff” just ends up being my responsibility. It is what it is. But sometimes (like this time), that pressure can almost be too much. I wondered if my husband had seen the email from my son’s school about this little presentation. And for a split second, I wanted to be upset with him. But I had to take a step back and realize that even if he had received the email, because I am always managing the children’s needs myself, he very well would assume that I was taking care of it like I always do. It is so important that I speak up and say what I need so that he is aware of how he can support me with the kids as the primary parent...in the same way he asks me for what he needs to support him as the primary financial provider.
When people say “check on your strong friends,” that’s great advice. And I’d go a step further to say “If you’re the strong friend, tell someone to check on you.” People often need to know what you need...even if you’re unsure of exactly what that is. Just ask for support, help, advice, a listening ear, anything. It can literally be the difference between a therapy visit and a full out nervous breakdown.
Triggers are an interesting phenomenon...and sometimes you have no idea what yours are until they, well, trigger you. Actually, you probably NEVER know what they are until then. Sucks to learn in the moment, but you gain some valuable information that can be used in the future, so all in all, it’s worth it.
So here’s to a new year, with new challenges, new triumphs and more learning along the way. As a mom, especially, the journey is never ending. Embrace the lessons and give yourself lots of grace because you will need it and because you are a freaking rock star who can throw together an entire pre-K presentation in less than five minutes when and if you ever need to. Be blessed.