Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with Facebook memories? Most of the time, they make me smile or remind me of something that was challenging that I overcame. Then there are those days like yesterday that remind me that my baby is growing up way too fast. It was this picture of her standing outside of our house with a sign showing that she was her school’s student of the month back when she was in the first grade. Her shoes are untied as they always were back then, and she was so little. She looked more like a kindergartener than a first grader. Now I look at her and she is almost as tall as I am and in high school. Where has the time gone? Maybe I am feeling sentimental and nostalgic because I saw this picture right after sitting at my youngest daughter’s middle school parent night for all rising middle schoolers. How is it possible that she will be in middle school next year? Both of these things happening last night really made me think about their lives.
As a parent there are so many times when we think, “If I can just make it past this stage, things will be easier.” At least I know I have had that thought more than once and have even said it out loud many times. “If we can get through these sleepless nights…” If we can make it through the terrible twos…” “If we can get her potty trained… “If we can make it through puberty…” This list goes on and on. We often want to rush through those difficult times to a point when things would be easier. I don’t know about you, but easier never really came. When one difficult thing was over, a new one came along that I wanted to rush through too. Parenting is hard and it is something you can never really prepare for. There comes a time, though, when you start to look back on those difficult times and realize that maybe they weren’t as bad as you thought or it felt at the time. You realize that maybe you shouldn’t have tried to rush through those times because you will never get them back.
I know for me personally, I get really sad when I think back to all the times my girls were little and I rushed through it. I didn’t take the time to really savor those moments. There are many times that I feel like I wasn’t really present in their lives. Even though I was physically there, I wasn’t all in emotionally. Part of it was because I was working full time teaching at a job that was slowly killing me, and I was so exhausted that I didn’t have the energy by the time I got home to deal with what was happening there too. I was giving EVERYTHING to my students, and I had barely anything left for my own children. It is hard to admit that, but sadly, it is true. It’s honestly why I was so good at my job. I was making a difference in the lives of my students. Unfortunately, though, it came at the expense of my own children. I’m not sure I was making a difference in their lives. I clearly didn’t have my priorities in the right place. My focus was too much on my job and not on my family. I was all in at work, but I wasn’t all in at home.
The other part of it was that I was beyond overwhelmed. With my husband deployed all the time, my youngest daughter’s medical issues, my job, and everything else that comes with being a parent, I often felt like I was suffocating. No one ever knew that, though. I was good at hiding it from everyone. I was good at hiding it from myself. This is the first time that I am really admitting it to myself or anyone else. There are parts of me that really regret that I didn’t stay home with them when they were little, especially now that I am home all day and stress free. I regret not being fully present. Without the stress of teaching and all that came with it, I feel like I am a much better mom now than I was back then when it really counted. A stressed out, overworked, overwhelmed mom is not the mom I wanted to be; but it is the mom I was. I was the mom with a short fuse. I was the mom that yelled. I took out my frustrations and feelings from life on my kids. It is sad. It makes my heart hurt. It makes me feel ashamed.
I wish so much that I could go back to that day in the picture. I would do so many things differently. I know that there are some of you out there that feel the same way. I know that even some of my friends feel that way or have felt it before. Talk about it. Don’t hold it all in like I did. Don’t wait until it’s almost too late like me to be truly present in your kids’ lives. Don’t live with regret. Don’t let your job and other stuff take away your chance to be a great mom. Be present. Make those memories that will pop up on Facebook for years to come that make you proud of who you are and who you were.
I can tell you that when I sat down to write this post today, I had no idea where it was going. That has been the thing with blogging for me. It is forcing me to reflect, to grow, to change. It is forcing me to look inside myself and figure out just who I want to be. I certainly hope that it will be a better version of who I was. I hope that by sharing my story and my feelings, it will maybe help just one of you to change and become who you were meant to be. I feel like I am getting there myself. I feel like I am finally becoming the mom that I was meant to be all those years ago. Yes, it makes me sad that I missed out on so much, but I have to believe that I can make it right now. I can be fully present in my kids’ lives now when I wasn’t back then. I regret so much, but I can only move forward now and make a change for the future.
Anchored and Present,