Oh, Motherhood, Sometimes You Break My Heart

Originally posted April 17, 2013 when I was on Day 435 of not yelling

Motherhood, motherhood, motherhood. You challenge me, you scare me, you delight me, you raise me, you please me, you displease me. Oh motherhood, you make me feel so many emotions. It is a rare a day goes by that I don’t feel elated one moment and deflated the next; only to feel elated a moment later.

Today was no different.

Around three o’clock today I received some thoughts about one of my sons that were disheartening.

Cue emotions: Sadness and Guilt.

It doesn’t matter which son it was about or what was said. It was neither bad nor good; it was just hard to hear. No, it was heart wrenching to hear. Absolutely heart wrenching. The “news” broke my heart. Even though I know it will all work out and that I know he will be fine, I will be fine, we will be fine, it still hurts to know that one of my sons is struggling. Upon hearing the news I immediately started in with the:

“It’s my fault. I am a bad mom. I am not present enough. I don’t play too much. I expect too much. I don’t expect enough. I don’t do enough. This is my entire fault. And if it isn’t my fault for acting wrong, it is my fault for sharing my DNA.”

Oh yes, I played the “I suck as a mom” card over and over and over in my head this afternoon. I was so down that I couldn’t even cry. I was past crying.  I went through the motions of dinner calmly and lovingly. We all went peacefully up to bed and I kept my fingers crossed for a nice, dry bath time!

Tip23Cue next emotions: Joy and Laughter.

Bath time was a sh*tshow, but I loved every minute of it. You see, the bathroom joins two of my boys’ bedrooms, creating a grand total of 4 doors, or better yet, 4 ways to escape. I was doing my best to coral my munchkins into the bathroom, but tonight, oh tonight they had me beat. I would close one door only to have my mischievous 21 month old start running to open the next door; he of course was two steps behind his older brother who had opened another door. Doors slammed and laughter erupted as four little boys literally ran circles around me. I did all I could do: laugh. It was hysterical, I mean here I am a somewhat fit thirty-five year old woman unable to catch four kids and get them into a bath. Not infuriating at all; nope not tonight. I took major delight in the laughter, in the happiness, as it was such a welcomed treat compared to hours before.

My joy continued in the bathtub. Tonight’s bath was overflowing with bubbles. #2 decided he wanted a mustache and dipped his entire face in the soapsuds. He came up looking like Santa Claus instead.

SantaOf course #3 and #4 followed suit. Seeing three faces covered in white soapsuds with just sparkling eyes peeping out was priceless. Of course #4 then decided to taste the soap and went diving in with his mouth wide open, just like a duck looking for a fish. He came up with a mouthful of soap and then blew it all out in my face while laughing hysterically. Tonight, at bath time, I was so grateful to be relaxed and calm and present. I think my sadness earlier made me more in touch with my love for my boys tonight and that allowed me to focus and stay connected. And well, not yelling totally helped too!

The circus continued well into story time. I was moving slow tonight, savoring every minute of bedtime. Such a gift to take bedtime slow without yelling. Such. A. Gift. #1 and #2 snuggled next to me for story time and #3 plopped down on my lap. OH BOY. That left nowhere for #4 who now considers himself, you know 4 even though he is yet to be two! He started pulling hair and trying to move everyone. He gave up. He literally straddled #3 and plopped down right on top of him so that he was in the center of it all, staring right at me.

His green eyes sparkled with pride and we all burst out laughing. It was a beautiful family moment that again, I savored because I wasn’t rushing it or yelling. Every child then scampered off to their rooms, their loveys in hand and hopefully their hearts full. I made my rounds of hugs and kisses and “I love you because….”

Then I got to the room of my son who I had received the thoughts about earlier.

Cue new emotions.

Cue: sadness, frustration, fear, empathy, concern, confusion, hope, guilt, pain and love, endless, endless love.

I had saved his room for last intentionally. Tonight, tonight I wanted to snuggle a little longer, talk a little longer, love a little bit more. I wanted to make sure that he knew he was a good kid. That I knew he was smart, talented, loving, likeable and more. You see, he doesn’t see that in himself. My sweet young child already is insecure more than the average child and it breaks me in two. No child should feel what he feels. No child should struggle as he does. And especially not my child.

“Okay munchkin, time for bed.”

“How about a book?” he asked.

“I was thinking tonight, instead of reading we could snuggle longer and talk more.”

“Okay I guess. As long as it is longer than the time we spend reading.”

“Absolutely. Twice as long, I promise. And I will sing you the lullabies I sang to you when you were a baby.”

He jumped into bed all excited.

“Here, come closer for a really big snuggle. I want you to feel all the love in my heart that I have for you.”

He snuggled up, a big sh*t eating grin on his face. The next part I wish I was creative enough to write and dream up. That is not the case. This actually happened.

“Do you feel my love? Do you know how much I love you?” I asked.

“Yes. I feel it all the way down to my toes. I feel it between my toes. And I feel it to my fingers and between my fingers. See here mommy, see the kind of V between my fingers? It’s like the bottom of a heart. Between every finger there is an imaginary heart where I feel your love for me.”

Tears STREAMING down my face, I said:

“Well good. Then if you can see those hearts in your hand, you will know that I am always with you and that I will always love you.”

“Okay, can you start singing now?”

I sang and then if on queue, another emotion arrived: the challenge of letting go.

“Mommy, you can stop hugging me now. I like to fall asleep alone.”

“Oh, okay. I love you though, with all my heart.”

“I know.”

Oh my dear son, I know you “know” but I truly hope you really “know” how deep and strong my love is for you. I am here for you dear son, I will fight for you and with you my dear son. I will help you, I will help me, my dear son. We will get through this.

Cue new emotion: Determination.

Yes Motherhood is one heck of a roller coaster of emotions, many of which I have never experienced in such depth. And yet, I wouldn’t trade it in for the world because at the core of all these conflicting emotions is one very clear and unwavering one that is driving them all: my deep love for my boys, my four sweet beautiful boys.

* * * * *

I share more of my heartbreaking motherhood stories, as well as steps to stop yelling, tips to prevent yelling, and fun, not heartbreaking stories,  in my book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too!” You can pre-order it by clicking here.

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22 thoughts on “Oh, Motherhood, Sometimes You Break My Heart

  1. I just found this post, so this is a very late response. I just get this feeling that something important is missing. I wish you would tell what is the thought that comes into your mind about your boy that makes you so sad. And explain more what is it that he struggles with. These things are so key for me. These are the things I wish you felt free to say, because I think sharing them would help us, and in the process you also.

  2. I have tears running down my cheeks reading this because your words could be my words, except I have only one boy and one girl. I felt all those emotions today about my son. He is struggling too and it breaks my heart. And I too spent extra time tonight making sure he knew I loved him, always and no matter what.Thank you for being so honest and for being willing to share such a personal story.

  3. Wow. This is truly beautiful. What a wonderful journey we are on as mothers. A hard, challenging, wonderful journey. Thank you for sharing yours with us.

  4. I am so impressed with you! LOVE, LOVE, Love the way you poured emotions and love into your kids, rather than allowing the anxieties and other emotions of motherhood to eat away at you… and cause you to yell. I am guilty of that so often, but you inspire me. And this post? This post motivates me to change MY reaction to stressful situations. What a great example of the beautiful things that can come out of bad things. Toot that Horn, Momma!

  5. Wow. Your son learned your ability to express yourself, what a beautiful way of describing the love he knows you have for him. Well done, Mama…thanks for the post!

  6. Wonderfully written post. Thank you for sharing. I am always amazed by how much more I feel (the good, the bad, and everything in between) as a mom. You don’t realize your heart has this much capacity until you become a mother.

  7. I find it so interesting and comforting that while our come-from’s are probably very different but our heart and soul for our children is the same. My heart is full and squeezing right along with yours.

  8. This was a beautiful and timely post. First, I’m still crying because it was so touching. Second, it was relatable to me in many ways. I am an outgoing person who has always wanted to try everything. My #1 is not like me in this way. We have tried dance class, but she always wants to leave after 15-20 minutes. We’ve tried gymnastics, but she is afraid of the male coach… soccer, etc. She typically ends up asking to ‘go home.’ At first, I didn’t understand this and would get frustrated (for which I felt/feel guilty of course). Then I realized–this is just who she is and I should not take it personally, as a failure on my part as her mother, that she is more of a homebody than I am. I ‘did’ go through the myriad of doubting thoughts, just as you did, wondering what I’ve done wrong, etc. And of note, one of these instances happened just yesterday and although I have realized that this is her personality, I still find myself fighting those negative feelings and thoughts from time to time. This post normalized my experience! You are not alone. We are not alone. Our kiddos are not alone!

  9. Good for you. I have had those same thoughts about one of mine, especially “it’s my effing DNA that gave you these struggles.”

    And good for you for turning your full attention to your kiddos despite your worries. Too often, I find myself getting annoyed with my kids because they’re interrupting my worrying(usually about them)! But when I let it go and just *pay attention* to them instead of to my yammering brain, it is better. For all of us.

  10. Thank you, thank you!!! Your story inspires me!!! Today was my day 2 and I can’t tell you how amazing I feel as a mother to not yell and just embrace the caos that my life brings being a new single momma of a 14 year old son and 4 year old twin boys! Thank you!

  11. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your triumphs and struggles and raw emotions. You put into words what many of us moms feel and fear every. single. day. It’s good to know we are not alone. I never knew motherhood had so much “fight” in it. Fighting for our kids. For them to see, really see, the love we have for them. Fighting for the best for them. Fighting to give them the best. Fighting with ourselves so we can make the best decision for them. Oh the fights that have been fought. That are yet to be. Fights that are all about love and nothing else. So thank you Orange Rhino for sharing. My prayers are with you and your boys as you start today all over and as you continue to help us all be the parents we strive to be. May there be many more joyous baths in your near future, which in turn is making many joyous memories for your boys.

  12. Just hearing what you went through today is a reminder that we as moms are not alone, and it gives me hope to know that our struggles are similar. As my mom used to say to me, this too shall pass. God bless.

  13. I saw others comments on the fb page and as I started reading, I wondered why many had said they had tears…. I was smiling and grinning along with the antics of bathing boys….. then I got to the end… the love between the fingers… and the determination. And there it is….the big tear running down my cheek. Moms…we’re all a bunch of saps!!!!

  14. Beautiful. I had one of this moments today (a lesser one) when a talk with my sons teacher left me worried all day long about his behavior, his development, am I doing enough, am I doing too much, how can I reach him, what if, what if…
    It’s nice to hear I’m not the only one who worries this much, and who gets down (and short-tempered) because if it. I hope your son is well, that you are well, and that all will be well with your family. Thanks for sharing, as always. 🙂

  15. I often wonder why motherhood isn’t described as ferocious. I love my children ferociously. You do too. That is good, but it does hurt sometimes. Hugs to you and your little boy. I hope that tomorrow he finds small pieces of confidence that he can own and build on. I am sure that he is wonderful. Any child that can describe a hand to be the bottom of a heart has to be a wonderful child destined to be a wonderful person. Maybe tomorrow he will believe it too. Stay strong Mama. Love ferociously.

    • I love your adjective choice, “ferociously.” Perfectly describes a mothers love to a t. At least this mother’s.
      I too have a challenging young man whom I love more than anything and can become angry with more than anything, or anyone.
      I love him, and my 3 other children, ferociously.

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