Sunday, May 10, 2015

Dear Lisa

This is you. Happy Mother's Day. Please be kind to yourself, today and every day.

You always, every minute, try to be the best mom you can possibly be. You love your child(ren) more than your very life. Hell, more than their father's life, much as you may love him.

You may not make them Pinterest-y lunches, or feed them all organic food, or cook what you might consider actual dinners. Every night may consist of endless chicken nuggets and Annie's (organic!) mac & cheese. Many nights may not even include a vegetable.

And this makes you feel like you fail Feeding Children 101.
You may not buy them expensive clothing or adorably put together outfits.

Or you might spend big money and buy the cutest outfits you possibly can. And then they won't wear them.

Sometimes you can shrug it off. It's only clothing. And sometimes this is beyond you, because do you know how much this dress cost and how CUTE it is and YOUR NANA bought it for you and you still want to to wear that horrible polyester nightgown because it has Cinderella on it? Every goddamn day?

And the you feel like an asshole.

You are depressive and you take medication, and you need sunshine and daily exercise and alone time and sleep. It is a hard little dance to keep you sparkly, and often you are not.

Your kids aren't getting your best. You should be joyful more often. You shouldn't let them watch so many videos. You should be doing papier-mâché projects with them. You ought to teach them to sew to improve their fine motor. But often, you are tired.

You should've had kids younger. You should've had therapy and exorcised some of your demons and developed the ability to commit earlier.

But then you wouldn't have this spouse and these kids, and they are your world.

Some nights you all sit down to dinner and someone says, "NO fish sticks!" and you just feel like you cannot fucking deal and you pour yourself a giant glass of wine.

Just standing up to take a glass out of the cupboard gives you a reset. Pouring the wine is like a small dive into the adult life you used to lead that never included oatmeal smeared on your butt that you had no idea about. All day.

You don't even need to drink more than a sip or two. Sometimes you carry the glass to the bathroom and then get distracted by the bathing and the rest of the nightly struggles. You find it mostly full in the morning when you're brushing your teeth.

And sometimes one glass is three. But even if it's just one, or half of one, you wonder if this is addictive behavior.

You don't do it every night. Not even every week. But there are times when you feel tempted to walk out the back door and howl at the moon. Or walk out and just keep walking. So instead you are like, "I neeeeeeeed a glass of wine."

Your daughter occasionally says, "I'm dwinking wine!" And it is adorable. But is this a mark of your bad mothering?

You grew up with your parents' nightly cocktails and cigarettes. Regular dinner guests, and more cocktails and more cigarettes.

But we're a different generation. We're parenting more gently, more mindfully.

Aren't we?

I mean, after all, we use carseats and seat belts. We don't put them in the dog cage in the back of the station wagon while we go into the supermarket. We validate our kids' feelings and don't spank and if they cry we don't tell them to go to their rooms so we don't have to deal with them crying.We tell them they can do and be anything, rather than implying that they are not capable of a whole lot.

This puts us ahead of our parents, even if we retain the scars. Wounds that leak and break open and push us to say damaging things in moments of rage.

You try to remind yourself to breathe, to use your gentle voice, to not completely lose your mind when your kid pulls the straw out of the milk and squirts it across the kitchen. Or whacks their sibling. Or whiiiiiiiines for the 15 millionth time in a row. Or physically fights over which book to read at night.

Sometimes this works, and you stay calm and get your kids through the situation without trauma or tears. You pat yourself on the back. Or maybe you don't. But you should.

And sometimes rage overtakes you and your head melts and you yell so loudly you scare the shit ot of them. And then your kids sob and you feel like a complete failure.

You ask yourself what kind of terrible mother does that?

You love your children more than all of the stars in the universe, more than all the sunshine, all the flowers. More than every single breath you have left in your body.

You tell them so. You say, "I love you more than all the rainbows everywhere, more all the drop sof rain, more than every single chocolate chip in every cookie on the entire planet."

They eat this up.

Please give yourself a hug and remember: you are strong, and you are loving. You tell people to be gentle with themselves, and yet you do not do this.

Be kind to yourself. You deserve sunny rainbow hug love, too.

You are doing your best.


  1. oh lovely lisa you are a gentlewomen and a scholar. this was beautiful, and so, so true. for what it's worth, the brief times I've spent with you and your family make me reflect on my own behaviors/ parenting; I am in awe of you. happy happy Mother's Day.

    1. Oh, thank you so much, Coleen! I see Declan, and he's so lovely, and you guys have such a great relationship. He talks about things like the presidents and his favorites, and world monuments...and I feel like I'm not doing smart enough stuff with my kids, clearly. You're an amazing mom! Happy Mother's Day!

  2. Happy Mother's Day Lisa!!! Gorgeous, brilliant post. It echoes some major themes of this interesting research study I found this morning on self compassion:

  3. Happy Mother's Day Lisa!!! Gorgeous, brilliant post. It echoes some major themes of this interesting research study I found this morning on self compassion:

  4. You are a great mum dont ever doubt it. Nuggets and melt downs are acceptable and so is the occasional scare the shit out of them yell. Happly mothers day you awesome

    1. Big huge hugs to you, Jo! You are awesome and a wonderful mom! I hope you had a great Mother's Day!

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  6. "It is a hard little dance to keep you sparkley" is so descriptive and so true, for me most all the time. Depression sucks the joy out of things so much of the time. It is so good to read your posts and find the words to describe this. Sending you hugs, especially right about this time of the year.

    1. I'm so sorry. Depression does suck the joy out of everything so much of the time, and people who don't get it don't get it, as much as they migh try to. Hugs right back to you.


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