Friday, May 11, 2012

I am Mom Enough

My three year old doesn't like to go to bed.  I've had an exceptionally hard time dealing with this.  I work hard to keep our lives running smoothly.  Having a little strong-headed Bean making a wreak out of my schedule on a daily...  sometimes hourly... basis...  *sigh*  I don't always handle it well.  It's humbling and frustrating and embarrassing.

It all started when Bean was about to turn two.  I was 8 months pregnant with Inchie and needed to clear out the Nursery.  Ray and I made a beautiful room for our little girl.  She got new paint and original artwork.  Her great granddad's bed was reconditioned.  I even found my old Mickey Mouse lamp to watch over her at night.  Anything to make up for all the change we were heaping on her life.

The first night in her new room, she climbed on her mattress and slept peacefully.  She was proud to be sleeping in her big girl bed.  She loved the new special space we'd made for her.  We'd succeeded.

That night marked the last peaceful night sleep she got for months.  At first I thought it was a phase.  I could wait it out.  But as the nights passed I grew weary.  Putting a 30 pound child back in bed 30 times a night was wearing on my already over-extended (literally) body.  I began to search for answers.  I read books.  I sat with my husband in the dark devising strategies.  I emailed friends begging to know how they did it.  I called my mom.  I prayed.  I began to doubt every choice I'd ever made as a mother.  Few solutions were offered and those that were sounded like criticisms.

Four weeks went by like this.  Inchie was days away from being welcomed into the work.  I was exhausted.  I second guessed every action I took.  I criticized my husband's actions.  My world was coming apart at the seams.  Something had to change.  With tears in my eyes and a heavy heart, I gave up.  We borrowed a second crib to set up in Bean's new room.  I had to do what was best for me and my family.  In one month, we had gone from happy-loving-laughing to sullen-sniping-yelling.  I felt as thought I failed my little girl.  I'd told her the wonders of being a big girl and then I'd demoted her to a cage when I couldn't handle it.

The crib stayed in her room for four months.  They were not peaceful months.  Bean still fought bed time and fought the cage we called a crib.  The damage had been done.  That crib bought us enough time to welcome Inchie into the world and get her sleeping through the night.  I settled back into work.  Life began to resemble something I could handle.  Then Bean climbed out of the crib.  It had outlived its usefulness.

Nothing helped me deal with this reality.   No book or piece of advice or blog post or restraint system showed me the magical formula to get my girl to sleep at night.  To this day I don't know how we manage it.  But we do manage it.  More often than not she sleeps.  Quite often we don't.  But over the past year and a half I have gained something.

There is a peace inside me I didn't have when this all started.  An assurance that I will grow and stretch myself to any length to raise these girls.  I will take risks and make awful decisions along the road all in hopes of raising these girls in a safe, loving, healthy environment.  I will reevaluate and modify my beliefs if necessary.  I will not give up on them.  I must not give up on me.  There exists no woman in any world who loves my girls to the extent that I do.  I am the first and best mother they will ever have.  I am Mom Enough.


This post was inspired by the reactions I've read to the cover of this week's TIME magazine.  A mother stands on the cover breastfeeding her 3 year old son in a non-conventional pose.  The title is "Are you Mom enough?"  My reaction, like so many others, to those 4 words is visceral.  There are as many ways to parent as there are children being parented.  I share my story to illustrate one daily struggle which defines me as a mother.  With experience, I am Mom Enough to answer that question without doubt.  However, there are moms out there whose hearts and minds are filled with doubt.  This Mother's Day we need to appreciate them for all that they do.  And support them however they choose to accomplish it.


  1. Well said, Margot! We all do the best we can, and every day is a challenge. Sometimes we do great work, sometimes it could be improved. Some days are utter disasters. Mom enough, indeed. No mother ever wrote that line.

    1. Thanks Julie! Feeling like I'm enough is a new sensation for me and I'm happy that I've attained it. I do my best for my kids and I'm learning quite often that is all they really need. It's a good feeling!

  2. This is a great piece, Margot. And I say a big, fat A-men! to the sentiments within. It took me years to learn (and I'm still learning every day) that parenthood is not just about deciding but about adjusting. It's a delicate dance to make things work. I guess that's why so many people call it the hardest job there is!

    Hope you had a happy Mother's Day!

    1. Thanks! :) My 3 year old is constantly teaching me that I must adjust or perish. She is her own little person and for that I'm so thankful.

  3. "I am the first and best mother they will ever have." Well said. That doesn't mean we don't make mistakes and that we know everything. It just means that in all that we do, we do it to the best of our abilities for the sake of our kids. It's always about them.

    And as long as we act in our kids' best interest, we will always be Mom Enough.

    1. It's funny that you picked out that line. :) I worried over it, but in the end it said what I wanted. And oh how I wish that motherhood came with an answer book sometimes. I guess it wouldn't be nearly as fun and interesting if I knew all the answers, but it sure would be nice on the bad days!