Friday, October 16, 2015

My 39th

"It's my party and I'll cry if I want to." And cry I did. A thousand tears today, my birthday. 39th to be exact.
It wasn't because I'm 39, and I don't think I'm having a mid-life crisis, but maybe.
I don't really know entirely why I started crying today and couldn't seem to stop.
I have these days every once in a while. You know, the days where all you need is a good cry?

I had the sweetest friend text me last night asking what I was doing for my birthday today. When my reply was, "Nothing out of the ordinary," she made plans for me.
Lunch at Italian Sensation, 12:45.
She brought flowers.
She started to sing "Happy Birthday" loudly in the parking lot as I exited my car, and then she saw my swollen, red eyes and stopped.
"What's wrong?"

Nothing and everything is wrong on these days.

I am sucker punched by the overwhelming feeling that I have wasted my life, that I have made a very bad decision to keep my children home for school as many years as I have, that I am an annoying friend who has to find new friends every several years because the old friends grow very tired of my neediness, that I have a hard marriage that will always be hard, and that I missed my window of making a difference in this world back in my 20's, and it's all irreversible.

Oh regret and self-loathing, how I hate thee.

As for reaching out with these revelations about myself on my birthday, well that wasn't going to happen because who wants to drum up a pity party for her birthday?

 I did not want pity.
I just wanted to feel like my life has purpose.
And when so much of one's life is taken up in roles that leave her feeling like a big, fat failure, it is very hard to remember her value is not in the roles she plays but in the fact that she was given roles to play at all.

I have said it before so many times, you're probably sick of hearing it.

Parenting is hard. It is freaking hard. It is like the hardest thing I've ever tried to do manage emotionally.

I want the best for my kids.

I don't want to tie my identity up in their behavior. When they have a meltdown, are socially inappropriate, disrespectful, unkind, selfish and even hateful, I do not need to interpret that as a reflection on who I am, what kind of parent I am, whether or not I've been successful or even decent as a parent. But I do. 

I don't want them to walk on egg shells when I'm having a meltdown of my own. But they do. 

I want to protect them from so much but not shelter so much that I keep them from their potential to live a purposeful, impactful life.

I want my children to look back on their childhood and have fond memories and to be grateful. I know there will be memories of things I did or said, ways I did or said them that will not be fond, but hopefully won't be so damaging that we can't laugh at them further down the road.
But, at this juncture, I'm just not sure.

I fear I am royally messing them up.
I counter that fear with the truth that God gave these, three children THE exact mom He knew they needed.

I fear they will have to spend hundreds upon thousands of dollars in counseling.
I counter that fear by telling myself that I have spent hundreds of dollars on counseling, but I still love my mom and dad. And, it's actually not their fault.

And, here is what I conclude:
Our parents, most of them anyway, tried really hard to do the best they knew to do by us.
I am doing that for my children and even while I'm doing it, I KNOW I'm not getting it all right. I KNOW I am making mistakes, screwing up and screwing them up in the process.

I know; I put too much pressure on myself.

But, as children don't we put a lot of pressure on our parents?  We have expectations of them, and many of those expectations are linked to our needs. We need love. We need physical care and comfort. We need to be cherished and esteemed. We need promises kept, boundaries made clear and discipline consistent when we've gone outside of those boundaries.

Some parents provide all these things in stellar ways. And, some children's needs are more readily met and satisfied by their parents.

But there is a whole lot of us (and there is, because read the headlines any given day. We are all a bit of a mess.) whose needs either weren't met or were too high for any parent, no matter how good, to meet.

And here is where I turn first to God and say, "Help! YOU be to my children what I have not been or could not be."

You be ever present. And He is.
You have unconditional love. And He does.
You never grow tired or weary. And He doesn't.
You provide all that we need. And He provides.

I then turn inward and stop allowing myself to be beat up on days like today because my parenting absolutely falls short.

Last, I turn to my children and ask them to never stop counting on God because He will never let them down, unlike their momma who has days like my 39th birthday.