Have I Damaged My Daughter?
There is so much stigma behind having to be this perfect cookie cutter mom – Well I am here to let you in on a little secret. Motherhood isn’t always pretty. .
“There you go turning it back onto me. You can’t just own up to what you do wrong,” he yelled right before I clenched my fists, screamed at the top of lungs, and punched the wall three times. With the third hit, I heard my daughter start to cry. I stormed into our bedroom and slammed the door and continued to break down. As I was able to grasp onto reality, I walked out of the room and went to my daughter and held her and apologized over and over as she cried.
That is how most of the arguments went in my marriage. I would get to the point where I couldn’t process anything anymore and just lash out. Outbursts is what my doctor called them. Adult temper tantrums, if you will. I was ashamed of myself… I still am. I have put holes in doors and dents into walls. I have yelled things at the top of my lungs that I never meant. I have dislocated my knuckle. I have lost lost, not just my temper, but my entire mind, in front of my child more than I like to admit. My hormone levels were all fucked up. I had anxiety and depression. And I wasn’t taking medication for anything because I truly thought I was fine. None of those are an excuse for what I have put my daughter through. No child should have to see their mother completely lose their shit. I was in no way fine. It took me over a year of these “outbursts” to get the help my family deserved. Once I did, it was like the fog cleared. I could process life again. I could manage simple emotions. There were still times that my mind couldn’t grasp an emotion or the words necessary to express myself, but being on medication has helped make sure that those moments are less intense and few and far between.
It has been 6 months since my last outburst. I was about 8 months pregnant at the time. I was fighting with my soon to be ex-husband. We were separated, but living together. (Something I don’t suggest.) My daughter followed me into the bedroom that time. She came in and her and I squeezed each other so tightly. I apologized… again. She told me it was ok and that sometimes people get upset. She comforted me. I felt so deeply for her in that moment. A 3 year old comforting her pregnant mom. I am supposed to be the parent. I am supposed to be the one taking care of her. Have I made her feel like she has to be strong for me?
Knowing what I know about child development, I know that there is a good chance that what she has witnessed could affect her. I have sat down with her and explained to her why mommy turned into a psycho bitch, of course not in those words. I have told her how sorry I was and made sure she knew how much I loved her and her daddy. My fear is that no explanation will erase what I could have embedded in her mind. Have I damaged my daughter? Will she grow up dealing with anger by putting holes in walls and lacking the ability to process when under high amounts of stress? How do I make sure she is nothing like me? These are the thoughts that rummage through my mind. I need to protect her… from me. This isn’t the mom I ever I thought I would be.
Here are some things that I try to do to ensure she has all the tools to be able to handle her emotions and to understand why some people, like me, have breakdowns.
– Validate her feelings.
Doing this is probably the most important thing. Letting her know that I hear her and understand she is feeling a certain way helps with the next tool. Validating her feelings, I believe, helps her identify others moods and emotions. When we talk about her feelings and I assure her she is allowed to feel that way, she is able to develop compassion and empathy for others.
– Help her communicate her feelings.
There are times, even as adults, that we don’t have the words for our feelings. And sometimes we need help spitting out what might be bothering us. If an adult has a hard time, I can guarantee you a 3 year old does as well. Doing this helps her understand me why I am upset. When I explain to her why I might me feeling a certain way she can relate it back to a time she felt that way too.
– Allow her to feel what she feels.
This is also very important. There are times when I don’t allow myself the freedom of feeling and do you know where it gets me? With a bruised hand because I can’t punch right without gloves. I have seen her make progress with this one. When I use to get a little sad, she use to get very angry with me. Understandably so going through what she has gone through with me. But now, after doing these consistently, she is able to just be with me in those moments and simply just ask why I might be upset.
And last but not least
– Love her no matter what and make sure she knows it
Seriously, if I never had to let her go when squeezing her I wouldn’t. When she is so upset in any way – it physically hurts me. I want to take that away from her and the only way I know how is by loving the shit out of her.
Writing this blog has been the hardest one I will have written so far. I feel like I have failed my daughter and my family. There is so much judgement behind how a mom should be. And once I hit ‘publish’, my ugly truth will no longer be in the dark. I can only hope that those who read this know that I am doing my best, that I love my babies, and that nothing will stop me from always trying to be the best mom I can be.
Read my next blog; Just Honest; Medicated Mommy, where I will go into more detail about my truth on medication.