I fight the “My-Daddy-Would’ve-Fixed-It” “My-Momma-Would’ve-Known-What-To-Do” Blues whenever parenting and Googling gets the best of me. And because parenting is HARD…as hell, this is the case more often than never. I have literally Googled everything from, “being a good mother” to “how to get along with my son’s father” to “Does God care about single mothers?” Never fails. Panicking, Googling, Crying..not necessarily in that order.
And while I have been blessed to come into a season of my life where I can lean on the support and wisdom of my pastors when I am feeling lost and overwhelmed, I will STILL Google deep philosophical questions just to see what’s out there. That, and old habits die hard. The bottom line though is that a Google search is hardly comparable to picking up the phone and calling your Momma. When you’re laying on the floor drowning in life and tears Google can’t help you and there ISN’T an app for that.
It might seem a little silly to Google these kinds of things but it’s the 21st freakin’ century and who else was going to tell me all the G-14 classified womanship information? Some of the questions and problems I have faced are just down right embarrassing. Plus, I really struggle with this idea that there is a lifetime of secret motherly conversations about being a woman that I’ve missed out on. I’m never sure what I am supposed to know at this age and what is a common predicament among 20-something year old females.
I’ve spent a significant portion of my life trying to acquire these secret motherly qualities from various people and places. My mother was crafty. That’s all the information I had on the subject and I ran with it. I bought crafting books and taught myself to knit. I picked up some painting and drawing classes. Then there was a 6-month period of my life where I bought some Hodge-Podge glue and slapped decorative paper on every hard surface I could get my hands on: laptops, drawers, pencils, coffee mugs, nothing was safe. I asked my God-Mother to teach me how to crochet. I learned to cook fairly well. I picked up sewing. I learned to do hair. Then I got obsessive about doing my nails 3-4 times a week—all out of my insecurity in being a woman and ultimately a mother.
I wanted to be a good Mommy sooo bad. Having Jai was my big opportunity at woman-hood-ship-ness. Motherhood reigns as one of the ultimate feminine experiences. This was my chance to get it right…or really REALLY wrong. Only thing is, plenty of people and situations reminded me that I was already starting wrong since I was unmarried and broke.
The guilt of this insecurity had a death-grip on my heart.
I felt guilty that I missed out on the all the secret information that makes women phenomenal moms. I felt guilty when I was in class. I felt guilty when I was at work. I felt guilty when I WASN’T at class or work, struggling to keep it all together—doing my best to find out the secret information that would make our house a home. I felt guilty that I joined a sorority and guilty that I had a life. #AllGuiltEverything! It was nothing but a G-thang, baby! (It HAD to be said. Petty, I know!)
And would you believe that I Googled that too: “Guilt of students who are parents”?
There really wasn’t much out there for me on the world wide web. Plenty was said about the guilt of working mothers but that wasn’t really my dilemma. At least they had a check to show for the sacrifices they were making. What did I have?! A mediocre report card, that’s what! And you can’t take that to the bank or use it to put food on the table.
So I did what we all do when we don’t know the answer to deep questions in our lives and we can’t talk to our parents about it—I asked my friends. Who of course thought the answer was simple. They said, “Don’t feel bad. You’re a good mom. He won’t even remember any of this.”
The only thing they underestimated was the fact that there were things and events that I felt like I wouldn’t remember either, because I missed out on them as a child and because I thought I was missing out on them again as a mother.
This G-Thang played out in various ways throughout my college career but the following real life situation was probably one of the more overt examples:
I had been waiting on this night since I was a little girl. It was finally my time to show up as a proud of member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. It was finally my turn to confidently join in the party and be baddd-as-I-wanna-be.
Jai, glared at me longingly through the walls of the pack and play as he sucked on a pile of plastic toys. He hated being in “the cage” but his little limbs were getting faster and stronger by the minute and I didn’t have time to keep an eye on him while also getting ready.
I kissed his nose to throw off his dissatisfaction, “D-E-L-T-A…S-I-G-M-A…T-H-E-T-A!” taking hold of his hands I moved his little arms to the beat of my song. He fell over into a hearty laugh and then pulled himself back up to watch Mommy’s show. I danced and sang my way into some tiny clothes, red heels, and a full face of makeup with a content baby.
Lipstick, driver’s license, cash, onsies, formula, bottles, extra diapers, wipes, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD—everything I needed to pack in both of our bags for the night. Jai was off to the baby sitter’s house and I was off to the party.
I gave Jai a final kiss and headed out for the night.
There were people wall to wall. And my confidence was on fleek. Besides that, all the details run right into the other ten thousand parties I attended in my hay-day. I only remember stepping out of the stroll line to figure out why the baby sitter was texting me.
I rushed off the bathroom to give myself some room to think and breath. When I got to the stall I pulled the message again: Jai is walking!
“What?” I texted back, as if she wasn’t being clear.
“Jai is WALKING!” she replied.
I didn’t respond. I knew she meant well but it broke my heart and made me feel “triflin”. After missing his birth because I wouldn’t calm down, missing my baby’s first steps because of a party seemed unforgivable. I left the stall and bought myself 3 shots at the bar. The rest of the night was filled with more alcohol and a drunken stupor. Nobody knew the difference. I cried myself to sleep when I got home.
It took me almost 3 years to forgive myself for that moment and that season of my life. In fact, I still find myself needing to forgive myself for what I don’t know, what I can’t do, mistakes I’ve made, and things I woulda-coudla-shoulda done better.
Guilt is a heck-of-a drug. It drove me to some secret and very dark places.
It confuses the right sacrifices with the wrong ones, rolls them together, and hurls it all at you in repetitive blows. had me all conflicted on whether or not I should stay in school, or keep working. Should I never EVER go out with my friends EVER again? At one point, I was even wondering if Jai would’ve been better off being raised by someone else. And while all of that sounds SO crazy to me right now, that’s where my mind was when I was at my lowest points strung out on guilt.
When I look at the life we have now and how happy Jai is all the time, when I think about how much I LOVE my job and see how much my son loves learning and already loves being on college campus I realize that it was all totally worth it. Every sacrifice was absolutely worth it and I want to kick myself for almost letting the guilt grab me and hold me back for living and loving my life.
In my journey to gain healing and restoration from all of this, I have learned a few things:
(1) You can’t feel guilty about things that are beyond your control. There is no comfort or resolution for it. You literally just have to let it go.
(2) If you show up and bring your absolute best to the table, there is nothing to feel guilty about. You WILL fall short but you don’t have to feel bad about it because the Lord is faithful to fill in the gaps between the limitations of our abilities and the extent of our needs.
(3) There is always sacrifice before there is gain and it may FEEL worse before it gets better.
(4) Forgive yourself for making mistakes. It’s more important to be better next time than it is to be sorry this time.
(5) The delay of your reward is not the denial of it. Stay the course and finish strong. You WILL reap what you have sown.
Stay Wonderful! 🙂