When she was littler, I believed in my instincts when it came to my kid. She wasn’t always easy, but I was great with her and could usually calm her down, figure out what was wrong and fix it or at least distract.
Above all else I believed I was a good mother and we were a great team, the two of us.
Now she’s a few years older and I’m no longer certain. There are days, minutes, hours, when I am certain another mother could be doing a much better job helping her, advocating for her, taking care of her, paying her attention.
Another mother in another house who would not have forced her to move and change schools, who would be able to focus solely on her needs.
These days when I follow my instincts things only seem to get worse. Sometimes it seems like every decision I make is completely wrong and will come back to bite me later. I want to give her everything she wants and needs but it’s impossible. It wouldn’t be good for any of us.
I’m already making myself sick.
Last week I learned what my temporomandibular joint is and what happens when you’re so stressed that it tightens up on you. The result is so much pain that you go to the dentist thinking your must need a root canal, and go home with a clean bill of health from the dentist. So much pain that it felt as though someone was slicing through my gums with a knife. Like my mouth had been set on fire.
So much pain that I willingly took prescription pain medication, which I usually avoid, and then sat thinking about when I could take the next one.
So much pain that when I found the right position, with the right amount of relaxation and the right amount of time after said painkiller, that I couldn’t help but think about the absence of the pain.
So much pain that when I told people what it was, the people who knew what that meant reacted with a lot of sympathy. I guess once you experience this you remember.
But I didn’t take any time off work to try and relax and de-stress because I can’t right now. That’s what my doctor told me I needed to do, though – reduce stress in my life. Trying to think of how to do that made my stress worse. So instead I’ve been trying to eat soft food and not hold my phone on the left side of my face.
And with all of this, all I know is that I want her to be better at this than me. I don’t want her to feel her body crumbling under the weight of her own expectations and responsibilities twenty years from now. But I don’t want to tell her that I am her cautionary tale, because that will make both of us worse.
Overall it feels like I can only do one thing really well at a time, even though I have a dozen things or more that I have to do, and right now she’s the ball I have dropped and I’m not sure how to save the fumble.