Affection is sometimes the only thing I have to give. When money, patience, and time have run out, love never does. When I have had it uptohere with Connor, I can still always muster a hug for him, a hair ruffle, a kiss on that sweet, soft cheek. My voice may be rough – grated and chopped up through a tight-set jaw – but even in that state I can’t keep from giving him a squeeze or kissing him on the head. It’s like a compulsion to feel the curve of his 3-year old head, to brush his peach fuzz cheek, to ruffle his soft hair. Am I sending him mixed messages or reinforcing my message by backing it up with an unwavering wall of love and affection? Is this more fodder for the “Mommy Issues” vault? The more I think about it, the more I feel frantic, like I’m knowingly creating a monster, a preschool-aged ball of frustration and confusion not just at a world built for adults but at a parent who has no idea what the hell she’s doing. Oh what a tangled web we weave.
If I stop thinking about it, though, if I just feel about it, I think I’m doing what feels right. I write “think” tenuously (and ironically in conjunction with “feeling”) because feeling isn’t something I do as well as thinking the hell out of things, even if no answers come if it. I’m trying to feel this one out because thinking it out has gotten me nowhere. I’ve often written about how I’m going to let go, to just feel my way through things because that seems more natural, more intuitive. But that’s not me. I would like it to be, but there seem to be more setbacks than steps forward on my way to being an all-feeling earth mother love angel music baby.
My voice of feeling and intuition is small, like a little nagging tap in the back of my brain, like me in grade school. It is a voice that is mindlessly railroaded when it’s time to make a decision, and many times after that decision is made I see the wisdom that my subconscious held, a wisdom that is often and quickly ignored. A friend recently quoted me Dr. Spock (not that Dr. Spock), “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” The good doctor is asking me to do something that I have trained myself to not do. I rarely trust myself. I probably mistrust myself most out of anyone in my life. My decision-making process is made up of often shallow yet compulsive thinking, followed by a tentative decision, always rounded out by a hefty round of second guessing. It’s a three-course meal of guilt and uncertainty. It’s foolish to think that such an empty diet would sustain me and enable me to provide and care for my family, yet I continue to gorge on it daily. Mentally, I’m done with it. Really. These bitter pills need to be flushed down the toilet to rest forever with Connor’s trusty yet moral blue fish Dirder.
The irreplaceable G of Momastery talks of the need to be receiving mode. When giving gets to be too much, when it starts coming from the wrong place, it behooves us to move into receiving mode. As mothers and parents, receiving mode is probably one of the hardest modes to move into out of boss mode, chef mode, chauffeur mode, or drill sergeant mode. These latter modes are ones of control and sources of dark frustration, like being stuck in an unlit closet, banging on the door that you’re in control while someone outside has reign over the lock. But receiving mode is one of the most beneficial modes to embody. We often feel that we give as much as we can and more than we can to everyone but ourselves. We drain ourselves, sometimes exhilaratingly so but more likely exhaustingly so. But receiving mode, receiving mode is where we can be replenished, refreshed, and open to what the world has to offer. It makes our world feel bigger, and acknowledgment and recognition of a bigger world leads to a bigger, more receptive mind. Forget losing 15 pounds or whittling away love handles, I want to grow a big, beautiful mind, heavy on the chocolate sauce.