Written on 11/28/11
3 weeks ago I had a virus and a fever. While I was in the bed I was thinking about all of the clients, friends, and family members of mine whose core issues revolve around the belief that he or she is not enough. "If I were lovable enough my dad would have stayed"; "If I were good enough my mom wouldn't have emotionally abused me"; ....my husband wouldn't have cheated, my wife would want to have sex with me, my children would talk to me, I would have a better job or a job at all, I would have more friends, I would have more money, etc.
What I know about this belief is that it's paralyzing. When I'm stuck with this belief I spend much of my time collecting evidence for why I can't do something or why I'm not lovable. I have lived on either side of this belief and know that once I get out of my own way and start believing that I AM ENOUGH (despite the external circumstances) and things are possible I start collecting evidence for my enoughness and somehow I begin attracting people and circumstances that support my wholeness. Also, when I believe that I'm worthy I start believing that I have the right to ask for what I want and need and therefore have a better chance getting those needs met. It's either a vicious or a delicious cycle.
Just writing this blog series took effort to quiet the part of me that believed I wasn't enough. "No one will read it," "I have nothing to offer," "People will judge it," etc. I had to stop caring what other people thought of me. Mostly, I write this blog for me. I do it to document and get more clear about my experiences and share what's been helpful for me. Don't get me wrong, there is some validation in knowing that 500 people have read one of my posts, or reading positive comments on Facebook, but I had to be willing to fail and fall flat on my face publicly for that to even happen. At the core of the willingness to fail is the belief that despite that potential failure, "I am still enough." [...]
While I was in bed that day I was angry at the parts, or selves, of the people I cared about who were self-abusive. Abusive is a strong word and I don't use it lightly. Think about saying to a 4-year-old the things you say to yourself:, "YOU'LL NEVER GET IT RIGHT!", "YOU'RE FAT," "YOU DON'T DESERVE TO BE HAPPY," "YOU'RE A BURDEN," "THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU," "YOU SHOULDN'T FEEL THE WAY YOU FEEL." Suddenly, in this context, this abuse is intolerable. As I was nurturing my sick self, I found myself being a little judgmental of these people and felt superior that I had, at least in that moment, figured this part out (that last part was in my superior voice....I'm blaming the fever for this lapse in non-judgmentalness).
What I hadn't discovered yet was that I was pregnant. A week and a half later I was a day late for my period, which is common. For some reason on this Saturday morning I decided to dig out the lone pregnancy test under the bathroom sink, blow the dust off, and take it. Within seconds 2 lines began to appear. I was numb and it felt like my insides were trembling. I slowly walked to my husband and handed him the stick with no expression on my face. He said, "Are you joking?"
Please excuse us. We're new at wrapping our brains around having a baby after the positive pregnancy test as our first two kids were planned. Suddenly every abusive part of me was screaming, "You're not ENOUGH!!", "How are you going to have enough time, money, and love?", "There's no way you can do this," "This is a logistical nightmare," "You won't survive," "You're already a bad Mom because you're not excited," "You shouldn't be feeling the way you're feeling!" I was able to contain most of this inner chatter and walked around the house for most of the day in a daze, emotionally paralyzed and barely engageable. For sanity's sake we ordered pizza for dinner. Within 2 bites of pizza I was sobbing with my head on the table. I wasn't crying because we were having another baby, I was crying because I had been abused all day and couldn't take it anymore.
By Monday I asked myself a question I ask many of my clients when they're stuck in this state of helplessness, "What would you do if you had 5 million dollars in the bank?" No, I don't have 5 million dollars in the bank and maybe neither do you, but putting this amount of imaginary money in someone's bank account suddenly gives them some "worth"... and I'm not talking about $$$. Suddenly needs and wants become clear and solutions creep out of the darkness and into the light. This question also makes more clear who we are and what we really want. For instance, if I had 5 million dollars in the bank I'd keep my day job, would you? When my son was born and I had 2 kids under 2 years of age sometimes my answer to this question was, "I'd hire someone and take a nap," and there were times that I did and it was SO worth it. I was so worth it.
On this particular day my answer was, "I'd have someone live with us." That other, self-abusive part of me said, "What are you a CELEBRITY?" Unfortunately for that part of me I teach Human Growth and Development and am aware of the cultural differences around the world when it comes to child-rearing. Hillary Clinton said, "It takes a villiage to raise a child," and this notion and practice of togetherness and support (often in 3rd world countries) makes more sense to me than the seperateness, aloneness, and busyness we adhere to on this side of the world. I also know that research shows children of mothers who work tend to show favorable adjustment (better grades, better family and peer relations, less gender stereotyped beliefs, and all of the good things that come along with increased involvement of fathers if dad takes on some less-traditional roles) IF mom enjoys her work and isn't overly stressed. If mom is overly stressed all these good things go out the window and she's at risk for ineffective parenting. With the addition of this family member I could feel my balances tipping to the overwhelmed side of the scales with the context and circumstances we have in place now.
I remember when I had my second child I was so JEALOUS of people with in-town grandparents: we have none. Despite the help of my super-involved husband I would dream of having a third adult live with us. Someone I could hand the baby to at 8am on my days off if I had been up all night with the hormone-related insomnia I have monthly for the first year after birth. I fantasized about an extra pair of hands folding our kids' laundry or holding the baby while I cooked dinner. What I yearned for was more support. "YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO DO IT ALL! YOU'RE LAZY." Geez, I wish she'd be quiet.
The beauty of the 5 million dollar question is that there's no right answer and others in the same situation might have a different answer. This question helps you find your best YOU. I know moms who've said, "I'd stay home," and that answer is right for them. When my daughter was born my answer was, "1. I'd quit the Ph.D. program, and 2. I'd work 3 days per week instead of 5." Now, as my kids have grown, I'm squeezing a 35-40 hour work week into 3 days and that's what works for me and our family, but I'm not sure how that would work with 3 kids: one who needs transportation to kindergarten, one who needs transportation to preschool, and one who will need transportation to a 3rd location and will nurse for a year....my head is spinning.
When I honored the part of me that needs more support to have this baby I allowed myself to look into options for childcare that were outside of my box. It turns out there are affordable options that I wasn't aware of. A friend told me about Au Pairs who are part of a cultural exchange program and come to the US on a temporary Visa to live with a host family, attend a few college courses, improve their english, and provide childcare in exchange for room and board and a fee which is much cheaper than a full-time nanny. Who knew? I'm not sure this is the option we'll choose as the thought of a foreign stranger living in our house sends my husband over the edge, but we're open to the right one if we happen upon her. I'm imagining Mary Poppins. What's interesting is the shift that happens in me when I think about having 45 hours of flexible in-my-house childcare, SUPPORT, transportating, laundry folding, dinner starting, extra eyes on fieldtrips, staying home with the baby while I go out with the big kids, etc., as opposed to 24 hours per week at 3 different locations (a cold running through our family would be enough to overwhelm this system!). I shift from stressed, overwhelmed, and being in a figuring-it-out mode to being (drumroll please) excited!
It's not another child that stresses me out, it's the belief that I'm not enough and that there isn't enough; that I won't have enough supports in place to be a good mom to my kids. Anything is possible with support. It turns out I'm not a bad mom after all. I'm just a mom who's realized she wants a village. Oh, and ps, if I had 5 million dollars in the bank I'd have planned to have another child, and my reasoning has little to do with $$ :)
Baby Ross #3 due July, 2012
"This stuff that you think you don't want is the momentum for the things that you do want."
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