Saturday, September 19, 2009

Yesterday I had an epiphany.

I really did.
Of course, as with most epiphanies, there is companion guilt.

I have been riddled with fear and doubt. I have been the swiss cheese of confidence. I have been in anguish over my childrens' reactions to witnessing violence and living with the ensuing fallout. I have questioned everything I do, every way I help them. I have sought help for them and with them, because I believe it is beyond my coping spectrum, and I don't want to fuck it all up. I am so afraid for the damage already done, for what they witnessed and how they will process that it was done by someone they love to someone they love...I worry what they will consider normal or acceptable behavior.

I call the children's therapist to ask her how to respond to certain conversations I have with Bubbles, and the many questions that Supergirl poses. Bubbles wants Daddy to 'kiss Mommy's arm say sorry'. He also wants to 'get a hammer go bam bam to Daddy, be Mommy's rescue hero'.
I don't pretend to be able to know how to respond to that. If it was your child, or a preschool aged student of mine, I would probably know how to respond appropriately. But it's my child, and objectivity goes out the window when I hear those words. I feel like every response I have, every move I make must be extremely careful and correct. Perfect, even. We're dealing with PTSD here. I want to make sure I do it right. Because for so long I have done it wrong.
I call for help, I ask what to say, how to respond, when to ignore and when it's okay to show my own tears. How much to tell, how little, and always being careful in my response, to separate the truth from a judgment. He is their father, and his relationship with them is not mine. He won't hurt them, they are not me.
I want to believe this with all my heart.

I am surprised then, when their therapist suggests that I am handling it correctly and appropriately.
"What should I have said?" I beg, confused about responding to my three year old's suggestions of violence and rescue.
"It sounds like you handled it just right. You told him you know he likes everyone to be friends, acknowledged his anger, and told him he could not fight with a hammer. I think you managed to validate his feelings and this shows he is continuing to process, which is good!"
Oh.

"I'm worried I am fucking it all up. I can't do it! I can't do everything right all the time," I sob to my own therapist in a rare moment of being allowed to cry without alarming small children.
"You are doing a great job with very little help. You are pulling this off alone! You realize that, right?" She says as she walks my sniffling self to the door.
I smile weakly, thinking that I've fooled her too. I am not doing a great job. Doesn't she realize that a great job does not include hours of sniffly wet sobbing? She disagrees, which is why I schedule another appointment with her.

Yesterday we had a rough moment. One of hundreds since April 11th, the day the man who claimed to love me, took me to the ground in a choke hold. And then did it again when I tried to run away. In front of our child. While he screamed and begged Daddy to stop. Yeah, that's what I think of when I say 'April 11th'.
So there was a moment. A moment in which Supergirl asked a tough question and Bubbles responded with words which may have shocked another adult. I responded as a mother. I looked at my children and all I could feel was love, not fear or dread that I had done it the wrong way. I was confident that I had answered correctly. I didn't need to call anyone to make sure.
And then, the epiphany. I suddenly knew a lost secret of my life:

I am a good mother.



For five months I have lived with the freedom of not being told I am fucking it all up, all the time. For five months, nobody has shushed me, berated me, turned a stereo up to drown me out, walked away from our conversation, ignored me, or told me that 'a nanny would do a better job' (oh yes he did).

I am a good mother, and I let him take that away too, until I didn't even know I had lost it.

I have shed a few covert tears over this revelation.
I mentioned the companion guilt. What kind of mother compromises so very much, that she loses that much of her confidence in her mere ability as a parent? What kind of modeling is that?
What have I done?

If I live in the present, I can say, I am a good mother.
I am becoming the parent I want to be.

37 comments:

nakedjen said...

i love you. and i will be the first to SHOUT that you are a good mother.

i'm so glad that you are knowing this now, too.

Lauri said...

I'm so happy that you realize what all us "blogfriends" have known all along...we all question whether we are doing it right - such an awesome responsibility we have taken on - but you have had hurdle after hurdle on top of the responsibility and you just amaze me - realizing that their relationship with him is separate from his relationship (such as it was) with you - you are one very brave, awe inspiring lady...

Becoming Whole said...

Your good mothering is so obvious with every word you write. I am so glad that you are getting to see it, too. So glad.

Just Breathe said...

OH YES, YOU GO GIRL. I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN. MINE DIDN'T DO WHAT YOURS DID BUT I REMEMBER THE DAY WHEN I HAD MY EPIPHANY. I WAS ON THE PHONE WITH A DEAR FRIEND WHO ALWAYS LISTENED TO ME AND GAVE ME STRENGTH. TO ME SHE WAS THE BEST MOM, I WANTED TO BE THAT GOOD. SO WE ARE ON THE PHONE AND SHE STARTS YELLING AT HER KIDS AT THE TOP OF HER VOICE AND I JUMPED BACK. OH NO NOT HER, I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST ME BECAUSE OF THE STRESS OF DIVORCE. I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY WHO DID THAT. THAT DAY I REALIZED I WAS A GOOD MOTHER TOO.

InTheFastLane said...

The process gave me chills. The gaining of confidence and realizing that you CAN and WILL do this. And you will be able to do it well is awesome. And even great mothers sometimes say the wrong things, but they pick themselves up and move forward and onward and begin again.

...e... said...

What kind of mother compromises so very much, that she loses that much of her confidence in her mere ability as a parent?

a good one. and then she fixes it.

Sophie said...

You are without doubt a good and loving mother. When you doubt it, know that we don't.

xx

DadaMama said...

You are brave, you are loving, and you are powerful. I see this in your writing. Don't dwell on how you got to this place: celebrate the fact that you made it. You're still standing. And that's worth a lot. I wish all of you peace and continued healing.

mle_mle said...

You ARE a good mother. You are you are you are you are a thousand times you are.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Moms NEVER let the truth get in the way of a good blog!!

sagameister said...

Being a good mother does not mean being a perfect mother. It means being human and making mistakes all the way along. Your such a good mother my husband wants to leave our kids with you for ten days after watching you for 4 days. You're too good.
Love,
Heidi

gwendomama said...

HI Pete! nice of you to drop by on my bday and say hi! 75.54.204 is the IP address? From Salinas? Awesome...that is pretty close to Hollister isn't it.
Thanks again for endorsing abuse and making it clear where you stand on it, because Ex needs the support of fellow abusers.

Blaize said...

Your interchange with Anonymous is hilarious/chilling. Happy Birthday, and you ARE a good mom. That Pete up there is a tool, but you already know that.

Melanie K said...

Why are the ass-hats all named "Anonymous"? Maybe stop allowing anonymous comments?
xox

Miss Grace said...

I love it when people who don't understand how the internet works try to go all commando anonymous commenter style. You have an ip address you idgit.

Gina said...

Maybe because all abusers are cowards who have to hurt someone to feel like a man. Obviously those who condone it are cowards as well.
You are an awesome mother as evidenced by your two wonderful children!

gwendomama said...

Thanks, all. And Miss Grace: I think the most notable part of these type of comments is that I only want to describe more of the abuse which I had been so careful to hide for so many years. This person also is a stellar dad, you can imagine.

gwendomama said...

Gina:
Thank you. Remember that their dad believes that the PTSD is caused by 'not being able to see their Dad every day'. Nothing to do with watching him take me down. Nothing.

Lunasea said...

Happy Birthday!

Of course you're a fabulous mother, and I'm so glad you realize that now. I hope you're gradually recovering all he's taken from you.

Blaize said...

How about this: Abusers NEVER let the truth get in the way of the lies they tell themselves to justify their own violence.

shameismymiddlename said...

Hey Anon,

You are a pussy for having to hide your identity. How dare you imply that there is ANYTHING false about what G has written. I know, I saw her after he took her down, telling her that "she had this coming for a long time" and that "someone should have done it sooner". Supporting R and accepting that what he did was wrong are not mutually exclusive.

Susan said...

Anon:
I am a therapist; also a friend to Gwendomama.
The way I see it, the only person who would know the situation and still support Gwendomama's ex, would be someone who is trying to justify their own behavior. I wonder if you are needing justification for the treatment of your own family. I also wonder for the safety of your family. I assume you have read the statement that HE gave to the police, since you seem to know these people. Shame had a very good point - support and acceptance of behavior are not mutually exclusive. If you have read his own words which he provided to the police, and still support his actions, I fear for your family.
And EX?
You should be thanking Gwendomama for NOT posting your own quotes.

MFA Mama said...

Dear Pete,

You cowardly, misogynistic, bloated sack of shit. I am beginning to wonder if Xman is the only one stalking Gwendomama, given the regularity with which your anonymous douchebaggery stinks up her comments section. I would say that I sincerely hope you get yourself some help, except that I'm not that nice. What I really hope is that you read this while on the crapper, have a coronary, die, and are found amid your own stench and remembered for the way you went out, which seems to be the way you live: surrounded by a noxious cloud of what you spew. I hope you choke. Love and kisses, Me

Jennifer Newby Blanchard said...

LOL.......... gwendo is the shit. everyone knows it. Good mom, great friend, intelligent, and sincere, and she's cool enough to let her son have tattoos(temp) on his neck.... hell of a lot better then drawing on the walls...

RoseRedHoofbeats said...

Well, I have seen you mother with my very own eyes, and I can say that you are pure weapons-grade awesome. =) You're getting through this the best anyone could possibly get through this. The point isn't to be happy, or to not cry, or for your kids to be perfectly well adjusted. The point is to muddle through and put one foot in front of the other and to take it one day at a time. And to have some fun along the way, which you do remarkably well. *hugs*

Cindy said...

Well, at least he admitted you write a good blog. You know what I think about the rest of it. xo

Alexicographer said...

What Sophie said. And in response to your comment to Gina ... you know I've posted to you here before commenting on how aspects of your situation remind me of my own parents. When they were still married and living together and I was an adult and out, I reached a point where refused to go to their house because it was so unpleasant. My dad told my mom this was her fault. Not quite sure how he processed (if at all) the reality that as soon as he was gone, I went back; subsequently again lived with my mom for 3 years ... So, yeah. They can be dolts, to say the least. Denial is a powerful tool.

Even in mundane circumstances this stuff can be hard. I was maybe a year into motherhood when my cranky but loving husband said (in a whine about my housekeeping, which is terrible by my own admission, or some similar), "You are a good mother, though, I'll give you that." It sounds harsh, here, but it wasn't. Still, it surprised me ... not so much to hear him say it, but to realize just how true it is. Yes, thank you, I am a good mother. And so is Gwendomama, in much harder circumstances, which is really what I'm trying to say.

NG said...

Wow... just wow.

Karianna said...

Damn straight, you're a good mother.

You are a GOOD mother.

Real.
Awesome.
Fabulous.
Sensitive.
Compassionate.

Your kids will be fine. Because you are reacting in a genuine, appropriate way. I'm impressed.

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Barb Brooks said...

Wow. Thank you. I finally separated from my ex, and divorced him after years of psychological, verbal & sexual abuse. I too felt like a fuck up, and still do sometimes, and am not sure how to answer my kids' questions (is it Dad's fault that you had to get a divorce?) Every person who shares their story makes it easier for someone else to change what is happening, and for the rest of us to keep surviving. You are courageous and beautiful. Hugs to you. --barb

Nimble said...

You heard that epiphany -- that is amazing! You have confidence bubbling up unexpectedly. You are a good mother.

Anna said...

I'm glad you realized this. I don't think I've commented before, but I've been following you since that day. As someone who also left abuse for a new life, it's three years on and I still have yet to believe I'm a good mother. I'm so glad you found, at least for a moment, the peace to tell yourself that you are.

Nina said...

Oh what a lovely and courageous post. Well done you on the epiphany and the leaving and the hanging in there.

Best wishes to you and your kids

nikkimohamed said...

You are a good mother.

And the fact that you were strong enough, brave enough to get them out of that environment AND help them with their feelings of insecurity, anger and sadness over the situation and breaking the cycle of violence makes you a great mother.

Keep up the good work.

Jennifer said...

I am playing catch up here, Gwendomama it sounds like you are realizing that you are comming into your own! I have faith that you can do it! and YOU are strong!

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