Lately, my four-year-old daughter has been blaming the cat, Momo, for mishaps. When I ask if she spilled a drink, she simply replies, “Momo did it.” It’s really cute and we receive the gift of smiling from it.
Last night, I was reading stories to her and noticed marks on the wall. I asked if she had marked on the wall, and she replied automatically, without flinching, “No. Brittany did that when she was a kid.”
Brittany is my 22 year old and we have moved houses six times since she was that age.
I laughed. I couldn’t stop laughing. And I thanked the universe for how much joy this little girl brings me. We know intellectually how precious our children are to us. We don’t always stop and really pay attention to it, though.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve struggled as a mom. I was a single mom for 15 years, and it was the most rewarding thing in the world to raise a beautiful child alone. However, I was struggling to find the same sense of reward from my youngest. No doubt I loved her. We spent quality time together. I wanted her to be healthy and happy and did everything I knew how to make that happen. But there was a feeling missing that I couldn’t describe.
That missing feeling was the absolute enlightened joy and pride we feel as parents when we take a moment to appreciate our children and appreciate the work we’ve done as parents.
The feeling would come to the surface and show its face, but it would stay behind a window pane. I could see it. I knew what it was supposed to feel like. I had felt it so many times in the past. But I couldn’t really feel it anymore.
I realized after quite some time that I was experiencing depression. I had been healing from burn-out for a few years, and that can lead to depression. It probably also resulted from a loss in identity. I had left a promising career to pursue my own business, and I was also no longer a single mom. I was a happily married mother of two.
Sounds great, hey?
Well, loss needs to be mourned. And I didn’t mourn my loss. I ignored it and pushed it away because I only wanted to be the best mom I could be. I felt I was past it and there was no room for it in my life. My pep talk to myself would sound something like this: “Tina, you are lucky. You have a wonderful life. You have so much to be thankful for. So get over it and be happy.”
Maybe this personal pep talk helped to feel grateful, because I absolutely did. But it did not allow me to grieve, and without grieving, I was stuck.
I remember the best advice I was given when I was 23 years old, had my first daughter, and was alone. My Aunt said, “Take care of yourself first.”
Finally, when I was lying on the couch day after day, with a sense of void as my new friend, I realized what I needed to do to take care of myself. I had to deal with my identity loss. As weird as that might sound… it was what helped me out of that dark place.
Among other things, I began to practice deep appreciation for my youngest daughter. She is a gift. Her ability to simply ‘be’ reminded me of what I’m here to teach others. (I’m a yoga, meditation, and mindfulness coach and teacher.) I also began to love who I am now and release who I was. This letting go process is liberating… and still happening.
I’m no longer attaching to guilt about not being the best mom. I was comparing my current self to my old self and what the best mom looks like today is different than it was 17 years ago… just like my two children are different.
I aim to be like my four-year-old. There is no guilt present for marking on walls. My new phrase for helping to let go of that parent guilt is, “The cat did it.”
Tina Pomroy is a wife, mother of a 4-year old and 22-year old, yogi, life adventurer, and circus wannabe. She owns Pomroy Harmony & Wellness and is a yoga, meditation, and mindfulness coach and teacher. You can find Tina at @GoingOmmm on Facebook, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.pomroy.ca, or @Going_Om on Twitter.