When my daughter was born, I heard the phrase frequently “it’s not about you anymore” or “people don’t care about the mother. They only care about the baby” or “we didn’t come to see you. We just want to see the baby.”
As someone who was seeking love and validation herself, those statements were detrimental to my own sense of worth, and I worked hard to show that I was important too. But, the sentiment remained the same “it’s not about you.”
This became even more evident when I needed somewhere to live. The sentiment then became “we (I) will take Olivia” or “Olivia will always have a place to stay.” But, where did that leave me? Was I just supposed to hand her over and live on the streets? I know it’s no one’s fault but mine that I couldn’t support is, but I didn’t expect to lose my job. I didn’t expect for relationships to go south. I wasn’t prepared to be told I had to leave the house I was renting because it was in foreclosure (the owner failed to reveal that part). I simply wasn’t prepared for life’s pitfalls. So, with very little options, I started to feel more and more like maybe letting her stay with someone else was what was best for her.
But, she fully disagreed. Even from a very young age, she ONLY wanted to be with her mother. Wherever I was, that is where she wanted to be. She didn’t want to stay with anyone else. She did not want to live anywhere I was not. It was live with me and that was that. (In recent years she said she HAS to stay with me to make sure I’m alright, which I keep trying to tell her is not her job, but she cannot help it. She’s an empath like her mother.)
*Back on subject* But, how could I keep her? How could I have her with me when I couldn’t give her what she needed most? I was still wrestling with my own emptiness. I was struggling with my own feelings of being rejected and unloved. So, how could I accept and love her the way she needed to be loved and accepted? Especially, when all I kept hearing was “it’s not about you.”
But, it was about me. My emotional instability was affecting the way I mothered her. My mental incapacities was stifling my ability to be present for her. My deep feelings of abandonment and despair and disregard paralyzed my ability to show up for her in the ways she was seeking. She only wanted a hug. She only wanted a kiss. She only wanted to hear “I love you.” But, my heart was too broken and too empty to even begin to express any type of love to her. I went through the motions, but she could tell it was not genuine, and that broke my heart even more.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my daughter. I just didn’t have the capacity to show it. I was spiraling. I felt so inadequate and ashamed. I was becoming the cold, distant mother that I did not want to be. And, what’s worse is I did not know how to get out of that space. I saw the mother I wanted to be, but I for the life of me could not figure out how to access her. I thought about reaching out to those around me, but I was the only mother in ALL of my immediate friend groups, and I was too embarrassed to talk to my good church girlfriends because they were such AWESOME mommies, and I was failing miserably.
I know those around, who saw my ups and downs, only wanted to protect her and look out for her best interest, but I totally disapprove of their method. How does “protecting her” by keeping her away work when, like SWV said, “the cause and cure is me?” She didn’t want anyone else. She wanted her mommy. She wanted her mommy to be Ok. But, her mommy was not Ok, so in turn, she was not Ok. I was fighting as best as I could, but I was losing the fight, and because I bottled all of this up, not knowing how to even begin talking to someone else about it, I felt isolated, which in turn led to frequent bouts of turtling.
I said all of this to say, stop telling mommies it’s not about them anymore! Stop telling mommies it’s only about the kids! Stop visiting mommies and telling them you only want to see the kids, not them. Stop telling mommies they don’t matter! Mommies matter just as much as the kids do, and they need support just like the little people do. Mommies matter too! And, they matter because a healthy mommy makes healthy kids!