I am underwater. I can see the surface and when I need to get a breath, I try to swim to the top but my foot is tangled in something below. The harder I try to get loose, the deeper in I am pulled. I can feel my body getting tired and tight from the struggle and my breath is getting harder and harder to find. I am not willing, however, to give up. I scream and fight and realize that this is only making it worse. If I could just stop for a moment and relax, just float, my foot might free itself and I would make it to the surface and to the air I need. This is a nice thought, but I am stubborn and believe that I must fight. I must be stronger than whatever is holding me down and I must prove that I am in control.
But I’m not in control. I am drowning.
I didn’t want to go to the aquarium the other day with the kids. I knew that Little Guy would love it, but Big One gets bored easily and like me, doesn’t love the big crowds and chaos of museums and similar places. In spite of this, I was willing to try. I would be with Osco- she really enjoys these types of things and is always happy to assist with the kids. I swear, now that I think about it, she was carrying an air tank on her back, knowing full well that I was going to need it. But you see, it has always been hard for me to let others help me. I have lived by some mythical code that says I need to be in control and always capable of superhuman power and strength. That even when I know I am losing my mind, even when I am hormonal and tired and hungry and a million other things, I still need to attempt perfection and keep control. When I become willing to step back and think about this honestly, I can admit that I went in with the attitude that I was going to jump in the water with cement shoes and show everyone how quickly I can drown.
But I didn’t drown. Despite my best attempts to sabotage the day, I forgot about the safeguards I now have in place to remind me that I am not alone. One of those steps is letting my authentic self show itself to the world around me, even when it isn’t pretty and learning that there are people who care about me, not in spite of my defects, but because of them. So when Osco said, “Go sit down. I’ve got this,” and took the kids to pet stingrays and feed birds, she didn’t ask if I was drowning, she grabbed me and put on the air mask she had been carrying around the whole time. Reluctantly, I kept it on until I could breathe on my own again.
The best part of the day, was when Big One told me it was one of the best days since he turned 7. While I am was so busy trying to be perfect and in control and worrying about being a good mom and losing my mind, they just love me and enjoy the world around them. If I really want to be a good mom, I will pay attention to how they live and let them remind me to float and breathe and when I can’t do that, let those who love me help.