I read this post this afternoon from @Emergingmummy . I was really surprised at how it impacted me, and I'm just going to throw down some stream of consciousness thoughts here and link up with @shellthings and her Pour Your Heart Out meme.
The first part of Emergingmummy's post that caught my eye and resonated with me was this one:
"If mothering well was completely dependent on me and my ability to maintain some fantastic facade of 50s sitcom life, I'd hate it. I know this because when I do that - when I take on some other person's version of motherhood and try to jam my own self and life into it - I hate it. It makes me miserable. I feel like a failure. When I make mothering with peace and patience, kindness and gentleness, love and self-control dependent on me simply trying harder, I run out myself very quickly. Mothering, like most of life, isn't about trying harder. It's not about faking it until you make it. (You will feel like a fake a lot longer than you expected. And very, very tired.) "
I feel like all I've done in the last 10 years of my life is try to maintain a facade. As I was encouraged/expected to force myself into that mold, it fed my sense of self hatred. It made me miserable. I went to bed every night feeling like a failure, with a ridiculous amount of mommy guilt on my heart. I couldn't be that person. I couldn't follow schedules, I couldn't spend hours patiently home educating my child while two other small children ran amok in the house. I couldn't keep it organized and picked up, every single thing I did other than verbally affirming my children and showing them affection seemed to be wrong, bad, and not good enough. Some of that was me beating myself up, but some of it was obvious disappointment and verbal criticism from my ex and from others in our church/homeschool group. I just couldn't seem to do what every other mom I knew could do. Keep a neat house, teach multiple children at home who could rattle off catechism quotes and classic literature vignettes, have cute matching outfits for their kids, and have them all in bed by 8 pm, and all sleeping all night long every night.
I remember saying out loud, "I need my personality to change. I need God to just make me a different person."
I just could not take the failure one more second. I was a failure all day every day. I couldn't keep up, I couldn't say the right things, do the right things, live the right way, pray the right way, parent the right way.
I lived in the most overwhelming, lonely, isolated, god awful place for so long. Man. It was hard. Looking back, I have no idea how I did it. Seriously. It was a joyless existence, and it eroded my soul.
This is another part of Emergingmummy's post that hit home:
"Even if I could fake joy and hold the line, I would know, I would not be my true self and all I would be teaching is inauthenticity."
That was EXACTLY what I was doing. I was someone else's version of me, I was not my true self, and in dressing, acting, and socializing within that facade... I was teaching my children inauthenticity. They spent the first several years of their lives with someone for a mom who does not act, speak, or relate ANYTHING like this present version of their mom.
And I like this mom a whole lot better. I haven't gone to bed feeling guilty about the way I have treated or spoken to my children in over a year. I haven't awakened with so much weight on my heart that I didn't know how I was going to make it through the morning, let alone the entire day. I have become more and more who I am, the person I remember that I used to be, in the last year. More sensitive again, more compassionate, happier, more motivated and driven, more creative, more everything.
I don't just survive anymore. I live.
And I live my life. A life where what I think, what I feel, and what I believe are in harmony. And I won't give that up again for anything.