I was thinking about how my husband had accused me of isolating myself from him and the children a few months back. He wasn’t entirely incorrect – I was withdrawing and holding space for myself instead of spending all my available time with them. I’d been withdrawn for a while, though, especially during the two year stretch of depression from mid 2016 until the latter half of 2018. I lacked the energy to be fully engaged.
And I just realized that the therapist they visited said they were happy, well-adjusted children.
In spite of me. In spite of my anxiety and depression and chronic sleep deprivation over the years. In spite of the way I’ve been withdrawn and isolated and unable to wholly engage.
I managed to be enough.
They’re going to be okay. They don’t need me on the premises, hiding out in my bedroom, during the times when we’re not actively engaged and spending time with each other. They don’t need me sleeping in the same apartment they’re sleeping in. They need my time and my presence, but it doesn’t have to be 24/7 for them to eventually be back to happy and well-adjusted, even if there’s a dip due to the divorce.
I hadn’t realized how much deep-seated guilt I had over feeling like I was never a great mother, never the person that played with them and did arts & crafts, that poured all her available time into their happiness – and that I’d be even less of a mother post-divorce.
Maybe that’s never what they needed from me. Maybe what they needed from me all along was kindness and information and boundaries, taught without judging or rigid control. For me to treat them like they are people worthy of respect, allowed to be who they are without being guilted into trying to reshape themselves for others, or for God.
I can still be that kind of mother for them, even post-divorce.