Tomorrow is my birthday and for some reason this year I find myself in a bit of a mid-thirties crisis. For the last couple of days I have bounced back and forth from being depressed to being manic about the state of my life.
I think the issue is that I expected more from myself. As a teen I was told over and over that I had unlimited potential, that I could do anything I put my mind and effort into...and I believed it. I also believed that I had unlimited time to accomplish my feats of greatness. I was going to be a journalist, travel the world covering stories of global significance. After I was done with all the travel I was going to write books - scads of books on a multitude of topics. I was going to win awards and go on lecture tours. I was going to be intelligent, confident and fabulous.
That was my plan. My reality was that I never found my footing in university and did not complete my Arts degree. Instead of travelling around the world I met and married Mr. Awesome when I was 21 and by the time I was 24 I was a mom. For the past ten years I have been a mom. That`s it. A mom. And not always a very good one.
The last month has been a tough one in our house. Cabin fever combined with a few changes in our home has created a lot of stress and has triggered chaos with our oldest son. I have mentioned before that he has Asperger`s Syndrome (on the Autism Spectrum of Disorders) and for him it means that he has trouble in social situations and with risk assessment. Recently he has been very combative and anxious about everything...which has resulted in more than a few less than stellar parenting moments on my part.
So this morning when he was having his twentieth melt down of the day I had a melt down of my own. I think disappointment in my lack of accomplishments mixed with my feelings of inadequacy as a parent and the result was a torrent of tears over the kitchen sink. I had just finished yelling at everyone and sending all of the kids to their rooms and was feeling pretty crumby about it. So as I stood their sobbing I suddenly felt two little arms wrap around my waist.
It was Gavin, my son with Asperger`s Syndrome. The boy who was never supposed to be able to have or express empathy, who would never be able to understand nor express emotions appropriately. It was this boy who saw his mom crying and came over to offer comfort.
`I can see that you are sad, Mom. Don`t be sad because I love you.`
That`s what he said. He saw an emotion, interpreted it correctly and offered an appropriate response. He empathized.
So I may not be an award winning author or world traveller but I am a mom. And maybe my greatness is not meant to be something that the world can measure by university degrees and credentials, maybe my greatness is meant to be raising this boy (and his two incredible siblings) to be a compassionate, generous and brilliant adult.
Maybe my greatness is being just a mom. That`s it.