Motherhood doesn’t come with a manual. Although common knowledge, this fact always hits the hardest on those days when you feel so stretched that you’re sure to snap before you get to climb into your own bed at night.
The car seat buckling. The grocery hauling. The meals. The homework. Bath time. Dentist appointments. Fevers. Nights gripped with vomiting. The never-ending mounds of laundry …
I get it. It’s constant. It’s continuous. It’s overwhelming.
And then you blink and you realize that the focus of your labour of love has morphed into a self-sufficient young adult, perfectly capable of earning a living and wiping their own bum.
Sometimes though it doesn’t turn out that way. Sometimes you have to look into the eyes of a stranger – the stranger you brought into this world – and wonder what the hell went wrong.
And so you dig deep into the corners of your mind. You become the archaeologist of your own past, looking for clues, dusting off memories, and trying to piece together the story of a sweet little girl that grew into a train wreck.
You remember days when you were too lenient.
“I don’t want to break her spirit.” Your response to advice you should have taken.
You remember days when life’s magic was sucked right out of you.
“It’s a cold world out there and if I can’t trust YOU, who can I trust?” Your reaction to finding out that even innocence has the capacity to lie with poker-face precision.
You remember decisions camouflaged as great intentions.
“Maybe you should go live with your dad for a while.” Your solution to a growing problem.
All hints of what-ifs …
But when did it all start? How did it all start?
You blame yourself. You blame society. And then you blame yourself again. The answers though, are never found in blame. You know this because you’re older and wiser and you’ve learned that blame is just another word for excuse.
And then you remember the good days. The memories now packaged with shiny, red bows; gifts to be opened when you need them. Reminders that you also did some things very right.
The Friday night picnics on the living room floor, toasted with wine glasses filled with milk.
The walks after supper and made-up songs. One melody in particular still whispers in your heart.
The end-of-day grass stains after an afternoon of practicing the very important life skill of cartwheels.
The shared fits of giggling that made your bodies fold in two.
“And they all lived happily ever after …” The perfect words for tucking in an evening.
There’s a contrast of Grand Canyon proportions between memories of days that you can never get back and the present. It breaks your heart. Maybe living happily ever after is a lie; an expectation too great for some.
When you look at your adult child – the one that grew into a train wreck – you think about all these things. You wonder. You hope. You even talk to God about it.
And then you realize that the only thing left to do is let go and pray that wings will grow from a miracle.
This post first appeared on Mona Andrei’s personal blog, Moxie-Dude.