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A Good Mother Gone Bad

I had been very intentional to choose to be a good mother. I chose my child over my own self. I never said "no" unless there was an actual, legitimate reason to voice it.

The messiness of playdough did not warrant it. Being tired after working a 10 hour shift as a waitress did not warrant it. My husband's wished and desires for private time or date nights didn't warrant it.

Safety and responsibility were the only themes that invoked a "no." I said "no" to playing in the street, hitting, throwing things, and defiance. I drew a line of "no" when L did not want to clean up his room. The "no" was not verbal. It was full of action. I took all his toys away that he would not pick up.

Even as I look bad to the good mother and know that she was not good, L was not a brat. He had manners and was a sweet-hearted child. Wait, I can't use that word "child" because he never was a child. He was an equal participant in the family and the third part of a marriage. The heirarchy of the home was well-established. L, mom and...oh yeah, the dad.

The good mother was bad. I was so wholeheartedly focused on being a good mother that I flipped my life upside down. The bible tells us that if we love God first, our spouse second, our family and then our neighbors, the balance of life will lead to love and happiness. I'll tell you what you get out of the L-first and spouse last routine. You get a devastated little boy and a husband who knows he is not respected or valued.

The bad mother arrived out of necessity because time was limited and her new baby needed her. It was a conscious decision to put the new baby first because he was totally dependent on her for everything. Because he was born with underdeveloped lungs and a low-resting heart rate, his health and well-being was never assumed. I held that beautiful boy and I loved him, but I loved him reservedly. He had so many issues and I was not emotionally prepared for that. I was scared to love him like I had loved L. I could feel it simmering below the surface of my heart, but I kept a lid on it. I took on a robotic sense of duty to care for that baby. I had to let L's needs remain, but his wants had to take a backseat. As I faced the most horrible realization that my baby could actually die, the desire to have a real partner in parenting meant I needed to be a real partner in my marriage. I had to face the fact that I had demoted Micheal, the first person to actually choose me, to stand behind the throne as I built all the steps that our child needed to rule our lives.

I harmed my child as I purposefully sought to never hurt him. I loved him so much that I almost lost all of his love.

If you take classes in water safety, you learn a logical rule. People who cannot swim are desperate to save themselves when they even think they are drowning. They will claw, tug and pull on anything around. So full of panic, they cannot think clearly so they will elevate themselves above anything around them to ensure that their head stays above water. That's okay if the thing is a rock or a log. It is a death sentence if the thing is a strong swimmer or a lifeguard who could take you to safety. In water safety, you are taught that if you are being overwhelmed by a drowning person, leave them. You swim to safety. In safety, you can use equipment or get other people to assist you in saving them. Even if they succumb to the water, you will have a better chance of getting them back to life if you are alive. If you do not leave them, both of you will certainly drown. No one will be getting either of you back to life.

I faced this truth when I advanced to mothering two little boys who both needed a tremendous amount of my time. I loved them both so much, but I could clearly see that I was being overwhelmed by the struggling of a baby who had so many needs and a little boy who did not understand why he had been left to drown.

L's bad mother arrived in the interim. The good mother went truly bad after seeking professional help about the monster she had created. I had to look honestly at myself and my actions. I had to face the consequences that I had caused. I had to realize that just because you behave in the exact opposite manner of what you know to be bad does not always land your results into the good.

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