Posted on | October 1, 2012 | 2 Comments
This weekend, J looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said I was mean to him because I told him “no” about something silly. And though it shouldn’t have bothered me in the slightest, it actually hurt to hear him say that. It made me question if I was, in fact, being unnecessarily mean to him because I wouldn’t let him throw rocks in the lake.
It’s strange, really, because I do know that I’m a good mom or at least the best mom I can be. And I know that my ex and his family know that I’m a good mom. But deep down in the irrational depths of my soul, when things like that happen, I worry about what could happen if they decide I’m NOT a good mom. I worry about the things J might say to them when I’m not around, the stories he might tell that could be taken the wrong way.
Just the other day he told me he didn’t like it when I bite him … and I’ve never bitten him in his life. He tells me I’m mean to him if I tell him to clean up his toys, he tells me that I hurt his feelings when I make him take a bath. Hell, he told his daycare teacher that he was getting a baby sister and that is DEFINITELY not true. If I were half of a whole, I’d probably laugh. Or maybe not. Maybe these fears are universal in this hypersensitive world we’re living in… the fear that daycare will see a bruise and think abuse, will hear a word and wonder where he learned it. Maybe every parent worries that someone will swoop in and steal their child away for forgetting to brush his teeth or letting him go to school without a jacket.
Who knows. Maybe it’s a cultivated fear I have as the result of being single, of sharing custody with another person. I don’t know what brings it on, but I know that deep down in my soul I fear angering my ex-husband, angering his parents, angering anyone on his side of the family. I fear that if I’m not overly sensitive to their needs, overly accommodating to their wants, overly anxious to please… they will decide to fight me for the care of my son. And it is a horrible, horrible way to feel. It’s a horrible burden to place on myself and a terrible way to view the father of my child and the grandparents who love J as their own.
I look out into the future and I wonder if I’ll be able to continue to discipline J, to do what’s best for him, to raise him with a firm hand alongside a warm hug… or if I’ll find myself paralyzed by the look in his eyes, the words on his tongue, the threats of “I want to go live with my father” that could hover in the air when he reaches puberty. I don’t want that to be a worry. I don’t want to feel like I’m looking over my shoulder, wondering if someone is waiting to call me “unfit” or “incapable” or “poorly equipped” as a mother. I just want to be with my child, to be his mother, to love him ferociously and to teach him right from wrong without worrying that I’m doing it the wrong way or somehow jeopardizing my ability to just… be his mother.
Though I suppose, this is just what being a mother is, really… doing the best you can and hoping against hope that you’re doing it right and that the people looking over your shoulder, though they will find fault, will know that even in faults, you do it all with the greatest of love.