Motherhood in Motion: I Struggle to Love my Child
I had this picture in my mind of what motherhood would be like for me. And when I found out I was having a girl, I was so excited to share things that I never shared with my mom: dress up, tea parties, painting out nails, cooking, cuddling up to watch a movie. I pictured her laughing with her friends and being the center of attention—you know like me. And then we had E.
Motherhood did not come naturally for me at first (let’s face it, I still struggle). I am not the doting, over involved, totally obsessed with my child mom. And sometimes, I have to remind myself I am a mom who needs to love and play with her daughter when all I want to do is lie on the couch and watch HGTV. I struggled to find that connection with my child. I never experienced that love at first sight can’t live without this tiny creature feeling. I am not sure I ever have.
And then E got older. I bought her a baby doll and she has yet to play with it. The stuffed animals, glitter things and princess stuff are of no interest to her. And I am ok with that. I would prefer she not be so into princesses that she refuses to take off the dresses, but the thing is, she is not like me. E is an introvert. She is quiet. She is analytical, systematic, and investigative. She frustrates easily, internalizes things and then gives up. She her is father.
As we sat with the play therapist last week and discussed E, I realized that she is only 50% me and if we are being honest, she is probably more like 30% me. She looks like my husband, has his smile, his eyes, his build and his quiet introspective demeanor. She likes dinosaurs, legos, numbers, puzzles and art. Of all those things the only one I get are numbers. The 30% of me is she is extremely bright. Like ahead of her class bright, but she’s just on target emotionally (and maybe a tad behind). She is the yin to my yang here. The truth is I feel inadequate to parent my child.
I struggle to connect with her. I find little joy in the tantrums and day to day drag out brawls. I know this is a phase, but seriously there are times I just flat out hate being a mom.
I want to ask about her day and hear about her friends. She wants me to draw things that I just can’t. She wants to build structures and I want color (but you know outside the lines and totally abstract). I admit I had given up. I was convinced that she and I would just never have that relationship that I dreamed of. But I realized after listening to the play therapist that it would just be different. I needed to foster her quiet time, respect her desire to warm up to people and do things on her own. I would need to just get on the floor and do what she wants every now and again. I also needed to take care of myself.
The biggest take away from the session was that E feeds off of my anxiety. She knows when mommy is stressed and it fuels her own anxiety. So, the best thing for both of us is to respect our own feelings. When I am stressed know its not a good time to try and play, that I need to have my own time. When she is wanting some quiet time, let her. Its ok to just sit with her and not say a word. I also am armed with some wonderful books that I would recommend to anyone struggling with the toddler years or any years.
I think for all women motherhood is what you make of it. For some its comes naturally and for others we will struggle, but there is no right or wrong way to do it. It depends on your personality and that of your spouse or partner and your children (as each one may require you to mother differently). Embrace it. Do not be afraid to seek help whether from friends or professionals. Tell your partner when you are struggling. Read the books. And do not compare yourself or your child to anyone else. Do you. Be you.