If you know me, you know that my daughter. The Fizzle, as I affectionately call her, is the love of my life. I love her in a space where there are no words. But, as much as I love her, that love is not enough to sustain me. If I did nothing else but love her and be her Mom, I would die unfulfilled. Now, before you write me off as a selfish Mommy, hear me out.
I said that I love her. She is the love of my life. However, my love for her cannot shade my divine soul purpose. I know that I was put here on this Earth to do something beyond motherhood. That’s not a mark against motherhood though. I think that being The Fizzle’s mom is one of the most rewarding roles I will ever fill. What I’m saying is that it’s not my only role.
When the Fizzle was first born, I was overwhelmed. I had this image in my head of what being a mother was supposed to entail. I was so fixated upon this image that I overwhelmed myself. I felt bad if I let her cry for too long. I felt bad when she cried even after I’d crossed off all the important items on the baby comfort checklist: fed and burped her, changed her diaper, had her at appropriate temperature. I simply felt like a failure. I can’t even say that I put myself last because I didn’t even put myself on the list. I fell into the trap of thinking that a good Mommy is one who martyrs herself for the sake of her child. And as a result, I was tired and miserable. I remember one particular day when I was just spent. I had nothing left. The Fizzle was only maybe 3-4 months old. She was crying and so was I. I had done everything I could think to soothe her, and was unsuccessful. So I put her in her crib and closed the door. I decided I would go downstairs just to collect myself. I couldn’t even make it down the stairs. I fell on one of the steps and simply cried. I remember saying, “I know I wanted to be a mother. This is what I wanted. But I didn’t think it would look like this.” Well the problem was that in my vision of motherhood, I was showing up every day. But in the reality of it, I was not. I was failing to show up for myself. I demoted myself in this world as just a Mom. And in doing so, I signed myself up to feel inadequate and to not take up my rightful place in this world.
I thought about my daughter and all that I wanted for her. I wanted so much for her. I wanted her to be and have everything that she wanted. And I believed that she could do it. So how is it that I could have all this faith in her, yet none for myself? And how exactly did I expect her to do whatever she wanted if I didn’t model that for her? How unfair I was being to the both of us. I was being unfair to myself by failing to show up for myself in every way. I was being unfair to my daughter by placing an unrealistic burden on her to be my everything. While it makes for catchy song lyrics, she was not, in fact, all I needed to get by. No one person can ever truly fulfill another—not even a child. To ask one to do so is selfish in my opinion, so I won’t. That is far too great a task to ask of my precious child. And I love her (and me) too much to do that.
No, I couldn’t ask that of my baby. Mommy needed to get on with the business of living for both of us. And that meant that I needed to engage my innate gifts and talents. That meant that I needed to admit that I had dreams that needed fulfilling. And if I didn’t go on to fulfill them, what was I doing with my life? And just like that, I gave up the ghost of martyrdom. I stopped telling myself that being a good mother was all I needed to do with my life. I stopped pretending that there weren’t dreams inside of me. I made the conscious choice to dedicate myself to myself and live my truth.
I’m so grateful to my daughter for helping me to learn this lesson. She showed her Mommy the way—and she didn’t even know it (or maybe she did and I just didn’t know). And that is why I can boldly and lovingly say that which I said at the start. While I love my daughter, motherhood alone will not leave me fulfilled. My father would say to me that the world owes me nothing. It is I who owed the world. I owe it to not only myself, but also this world to put forth my best self and use the talents that I possess to leave my imprint upon this world. And that’s exactly what I’m doing.
*photo by YourMemories Photography*