I am the oldest of five children. I have four younger brothers. I was a teacher. I have been around babies and children my entire life.
Imagine my shock when I discovered after my twins were born that I wasn’t enjoying the infancy stage.
The guilt. . .the angst. . .the fear that I made truly the worse mistake of my life and there was no turning back.
Not that I didn’t love my babies but caring for them in those early, sleep-deprived, intensive days, I struggled mightily. I felt so guilty because Scott and I went to great lengths to have these children! And, here I was with premies feeling like I’d never get my life back. I was thrown in the middle of the ocean and told to swim toward shore.
Those first couple of months, our families helped out. My mom came for the first month and Scott’s parents stayed for the second without their help, I don’t know what I would have done
And, yet, even with their help I was feeling lost. When my dad joined my mother during her last week with us, I finally admitted to him my angst.
We were washing dishing and I mustered up the courage to say, “I’m not really enjoying this.” Inside I felt like I had truly failed as a mom even while admitting out loud I was st
ruggling felt so good.
Rather than uttering a silly platitude about how it’would get better (I couldn’t imagine my life improving or ever sleeping through the night AGAIN!). Rather than telling me to buck up that this is what parenting is about. Rather than giving me a guilt trip, “Now you know how your mother and I felt.”
My dad said these words that validated my feelings and made me not feel so alone.
“You aren’t the first mother to feel like this.”
This was such a relief and such a revelation. Other women struggled with
having infants who demand so much and give so little? Was taking care of premie twins truly a job beyond what I could have possibly imagined? Could I still be a good mother and yet have these feelings of doubt and fear?
My dad has a way of saying things that are objectively comforting and blessedly lacking in pity or guilt. His few words brought such a blanket of comfort. To have someone acknowledge that this was one of the most difficult things I could do.
I look back at the pictures from this time and I see me smiling and holding these babies. I don’t see that mother any longer who was struggling with such guilt. But, I do remember the validation my dad gave me: I could feel like I did and still be a good mother.