Sometimes being a mother breaks my heart

Today wasn’t a good one. I can’t and shouldn’t measure my mothering skills by what happens in one day or even one moment. However, I can’t help but feel I’ve let them down. Again.

I know tomorrow I will wake up and all the pain of today will have lost its luster. The tears we cried a memory getting fainter as the days go on.

But tonight I hurt.

I ache.

I bleed.

My heart breaks for the pain you felt today. The pain WE felt today.

When I saw you both all packed up and ready to go ride bikes, I could tell there was more.

I felt it.

You said the food you packed was in case you got hungry. But I saw the look you gave each other and I knew it.

I let you go anyway.

I stood at the window and watched you go. I prayed you’d be safe and knew you’d come back.

I didn’t really know. Couldn’t really know what you’d been plotting while you sat on the swing last night together. I thought it was something like hunting for fairies or looking for magic doors.

When you came back less than 10 minutes later, hot and defeated, I could sense it was so much more.

You both started crying within seconds of coming through the door and my heart dropped. It took some time to get it out of you. The plan. The secret. The wish.

Your plan is adorable and heartbreaking at the same time. Ride your bikes to Pet Smart. You’d wave at a stranger, pretending they are your parent, fool the staff. You’d adopt a kitten and a puppy. Ride home with the pets in your backpacks. You’d keep your little babies in the playhouse in the backyard. You’d feed and care for them when we aren’t looking.

You’d have the pets you so long for.

My heart breaks.

I hold you both as your tears flow and mine join in with yours.

You’re probably wondering why I don’t run out and buy seventeen kittens and puppies.

I want to.

My husband is allergic to cats and refuses to get a dog. Its been an ongoing topic of discussion and every few months it rears its painful head again.

I support him in front of them, but argue with him about it frequently. His list of reasons is short, but he will not budge.

My heart breaks.

We leave the house and go shopping to break the moment. I try and distract with humor, new books and a shared cookie.

It helps for the moment.

Later in the day though, it surfaces again. More tears. This time rage and anger. You fight with each other and get violent. You hit me. Hit each other. You scratch me. You tell me I am awful. You shake with frustration.

I listen. I hold you. I talk to you.

We talk about better ways to vent our anger so it doesn’t hurt others. You ask why I’m crying too, and I tell you I hurt when you do.

You cry more and I apologize.

I should not have cried.

I should be stronger.

We make it to the end of the day and when daddy comes home we try and hold it together. I want to rage and scream and scratch, like you. I want to make him feel the pain you do.

I don’t.

Of course I don’t.

Someday you will see I am protecting you. Marriage isn’t easy and being an adult is about compromises and sacrifice.

Or maybe you will be in therapy someday telling them you wished your mother were a stronger person.

I don’t know.

We snuggled before bedtime and I told you I loved you more than you could ever imagine. I read to you and kissed you. Tomorrow will be a better day, I say. Tomorrow we will do something fun.

You look up at me with wounded eyes and I want to cry again.

Sometimes being a mother breaks my heart.

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6 thoughts on “Sometimes being a mother breaks my heart

  1. This hurts my heart to read. We had a similar thing going over six years ago. Two asthmatic kids that desperately wanted an animal to call their own and a husband who didn’t. I grew up with pets and not the connection you make with pets is crucial to a developing child. Empathy, love, compassion, responsibility, unconditional love, friendship like no other they will ever know. How could he object to these things I thought. So I did my research and found the perfectly adorable hypoallergenic cockapoo puppies from a breeder. Both my kids and I have allergies and asthma. That is not an excuse to avoid animals. Got on a waitlist to get first pick of the litter for a female and once born went to look. Alone with the kids. I told him we were going no and wa again told the not a good time. Well it’s like having a baby. Is there ever a perfect or right time? No. It just happens the way it’s meant to and it ends up so right. I made an executive decision for my kids and thought one out of four insisting on no pets was selfish. But denying my kids this kind of love and connection was more selfish. So I put a deosit down and the rest was history. He came around. We went to meet her and his heart softened a little. We brought her home and it softened more. She has been the best thing for our entire family. She has connected us all and we all have our own unique connection and relationship with her. Fast forward six years and Steve loves this dog and admits that I picked the best dog ever and that he was wrong and is glad I went against him and made his executive decision for our familly. She has made life better. She has made us better. She brings love and joy and happiness and we can’t imagine a life without her. Get a hypoallergenic dog. You know my pick. Jameson will come around. If not that’s okay too as he’s not around as much as you are. It will be an antidepressant. Do it!!!! Your kids will thank you one day. Kids with no pets often turn into adults that don’t like or are very disconnected from animals and don’t understand them. And that’s a sad world to live in. Don’t let the allergy thing deprive your kids. Their little hearts are screaming for the emotional connection. And they are only little for a short time. Life is precious.

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  2. I think that being there for your children, holding them and allowing them all their feelings is really brave and strong too. I don’t always do that as much as I’d like to, and I’m far less patient than I’d like to be. The concept of the ‘good enough’ mother helped me a lot (it’s by Winicott).

    We want to protect our children from all the hurts, and seeing them sad is really painful. That’s empathy. I think growing up with an empathic mother is one of the greatest gifts you could get as a child.

    I don’t always comment, but I always admire your courage.

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  3. wow, what a heart felt story. I want to share with you my situation with a dog. When my oldest left for college I begged to get a lap dog. My husband hates little dogs. We had 2 labs, both have passed now and it made my 12 year old swear he never wants another dog again, because the pain is so hard when you have to let them go.
    Well, I begged, weeks, I begged. Then I added the tears, that usually helps a little with negotiations. I came downstairs one morning and there was $400 on the counter for me to go get my little Dachshund.
    Its been 7 years now, my son and I love her to death. But, my husband and I constantly fight about her, he’s not very nice to her, and it has caused a strain in our marriage many times. If you both are not in on the decision, I would discourage you from getting one. You said he’s allergic to cats, but refuses a dog. So does that mean he would get a cat maybe if he could take an allergy pill daily. I know many people who have cats but are allergic to them. They take a pill a day and everyone’s happy.
    What about some fish? Its so so hard with kids to make them understand “adult issues”. And you as a mom are trying to make them happy, yet keep your husband happy as well. Its what we do as Moms.
    I wish you all the luck in the world solving this. I know how hard it is when your kids are sad.
    I just know, as much as I LOVE my Bella, I wouldn’t of gotten her because its not worth the strain on the marriage. That has to come first.

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  4. What about a compromise pet? Something that won’t make your husband sneeze like a cat and which is easier than a dog… Our compromise pet was a teddy bear hamster. The kids shared her- she was soft and cuddly and only took a few days of patiently hand feeding before she would climb onto the kids’ hands. My husband was a trooper and he “trained” the hamster with the kids (I was afraid of little nibbles but you can always wear a glove if you’re nervous). They aren’t a long commitment like a dog or cat as their life expectancy is usually 2-5 years. Our kids love love loved their hamsters (we had two- one at a time- before our cat died). The only caveat is that it’s really handy to have a space away from where you sleep to put the cage as they are nocturnal and the wheel can be squeaky. We have friends who have had guinea pigs (longer life span but not as friendly) as well as geckos (great but not soft and fluffy and they eat crickets and worms so a little more maintenance). Hopefully your husband is open to a little pet.
    Good luck and you’re a good momma. We all have those days and it hurts so much because we love them so much!

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  5. Your posts always hit me to my very core. I am grateful for your ability to eloquently and profoundly express the whole gamut of experiences and emotions I have often felt as a mother. When I read the first sentence of this blog, I secretly hoped your “failing” them was as big and awful as what I feel I have done on a near daily basis. Then I saw it was about pets. I feel for you more than you know. Ironically, this is the ONLY area in my parenting where I think I’ve done something right because my children have always lived with dogs. I need dogs like I need oxygen. I always need a pet in general–even when it was just an aquarium when I couldn’t have a four-legged BFF.

    I have no words of wisdom or advice because this is a very personal family decision. My heart and my head just ache thinking of how you and your children must feel. I couldn’t keep my sanity or grace over a spouse’s unwillingness to have a pet. It’s easy for me and others to say that if you wear him down and adopt a dog, he will come around and love that dog more than he could ever know. That may never happen, and it could just create contempt for the animal. How unbearable would that be?

    My hope is that you can find a compromise and start small, as others have suggested.

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