So I’ve started seeing a family therapist, finally, and there has been plenty to talk about – mostly about parenting. I haven’t really started to process the whole “what should we do with our lives” question that is constantly simmering in the back of my mind.
The main thing she said to me is that I need to forgive myself for failing to live up to my own expectations and sense of self-identity. Say “yes” to the past, and the now, and the future. Think of everything that I chose, that I did, that I felt, that I thought, and know that it is ok.
I feel like I don’t really know how to do that, but I do know that this enormous feeling of GUILT for trying to obtain a degree while parenting, and the enormous sense of failure for not doing either as well as I think I should have, is devastating. It eats away at me and I think it colors a lot of my emotional interactions with my daughter, even now.
I also bought Ask Moxie’s book of 32 truths about parenting, that has been fabulous. The book is an expanded version of her blog series on the same topic, which is also good, but there are some great quotes in the book that I didn’t see on the blog. Here are some gems though:
# 28: “I believe that a lot of parents are carrying around some trauma from our children’s younger years, and may still be immersed in that trauma.”
# 4: “…the truth is that we’re tired and stressed and sometimes lonely. We’re doing too much, because we have to. And sometimes because in order to do the things that we love, we have to add them on to all the stuff that just has to get done. And it doesn’t mean there’s anything particularly valiant or morally superior or even extra-strength about us. It just means we’re making it, one day at a time.”
I think the most helpful thing she said was that I am the best parent for my kids. Otherwise (I’m paraphrasing) we’d find the most Ma Ingalls women in the country and give them all the kids to raise. (I admit that I’ve often thought that would be a good idea, actually.) But they need ME. With all my faults and flaws. They need me to be present, engaged, attentive… just me. And I will fuck up, and I can ask for forgiveness.