Guilt, Fragility, and Perfection

Today I was riddled with guilt. What was it that caused me such angst? I wanted my husband to come home after work. He does not go out after work often and when he does I rarely have a problem with it. Today was a rough day. Brady had no school so I had both boys all day. They fought over toys all morning. I had to take them both with me to vote and was stared at like a freak for having two children with me to perform my civic duty. Declan refused to nap and was a tired, cranky mess the rest of the day. I texted my husband some choice words about how my day was going. He told me he was coming home instead of going out for drinks. I felt like a terrible, worthless person. I told him to just go out. He came home anyway. I was very, very happy to have him home.

Sometimes, like today, life seems very busy and exhausting and out of control. Part of it is that I have a two-year-old and he is, well, two, and he whines a lot and is demanding and clingy and doesn’t want to nap and is also getting heavy. Part of it is that I have an over-scheduled (to be remedied soon) first-grader and I feel like I am constantly schlepping myself and my kids from here to there and back again. Part of it is that my stupid foot hurts and seeing a podiatrist has brought little relief. Part of it is that I have no paid work at the moment and the complex feelings that brings up are eating at me.

But what it really is, is this, it’s the fact that I feel ridiculously guilty for having even typed out these words. Why should complaining about my day cause me such shame? Why should I feel like an utter failure because sometimes I need help? Why should I feel that if I don’t do every difficult task put before me and do it perfectly without complaint, that I am a terrible mother/wife/daughter/sister/friend? Why do I hate myself for not having the amazingly fulfilling Facebook-Pinterest pinnacle of perfection life?

I miss a lot of things about that glorious, semi-reality of my memory “the time before kids.” I miss being able to go anywhere I wanted any time I wanted and not having to figure out how to get two other people there as well. I miss not having to negotiate each part of the day with little people. I really miss getting up in the morning and only having to get myself ready to be anywhere. But one thing that I truly miss about the days before I had children is the luxury of feeling vulnerable. I miss being able to NOT be the strongest person around. Some days I just really want to be sad and broken and fragile. I want to be taken care of. I want to need to be taken care of.

And of course sometimes I am. I call my mom sometimes and I cry and I tell her that it’s hard. Sometimes, after the kids have gone to bed, I tell my husband that I can’t do it anymore. But I know that I can, and they know that I can. I appreciate the strength my kids have given me. While I have always been a responsible person, my kids have made me an adult. As a mother I have a need to be there, not just for my own children, but for everyone. It is my interpretation of the job description. It doesn’t leave much room to be weak. So sometimes, maybe, I need to break a little, just to remind myself and the people around me that although I am strong, I am also fragile.

As women, and especially as mothers, we are saddled with a myriad of expectations. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing – expectations help to push us to grow and succeed. But the expectation of perfection is one that no one can live up to. Perfection does not exist. Trying desperately to mix together being a gentle mother and a strong disciplinarian and a sexy vixen and a vulnerable girl and a professional success and a proper feminist and a kind friend and everything else that I feel a need only sets me up for failure, guilt, and disappointment.

What is my point here? I’m really not sure. But I really needed to get this out. Maybe putting it into words will lessen the effects of my personal quest for perfection.

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