Monday, August 1, 2011

I am not a perfect mother

"All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." 
-Ernest Hemingway     

Okay... here we go.

I am not a perfect mother.

I said it.

That is my one true sentence.

I was not a perfect mother to Peyton.

Another true sentence.

I loved her - yes.
I wanted her to live - yes.
I miss her every day - yes.

But I wasn't perfect. 

I was scared - a lot.
I cried in front of her - a lot.
I felt robbed, even when she was with us, by the machines, and the procedures, and the cancer, and the projected outcome.

I was weak in my Faith during Peyton's life.

I still am.

I spent more time in the chapel yelling at Him for afflicting her, than I did believing He would cure her, and I will never know if that affected her outcome.

There were times I should have spoken up about flaws in her care.
I know that now.

At the time I didn't feel qualified to say anything.
Motherly enough to say anything.

What could I possibly have known more than the nurses?
I wasn't even allowed to give her a bath.

Peyton was never surrounded by pure joy.

Forced smiles - yes.
Feigned laughter - yes.
Intense love - yes. yes. yes.

But the true, pure, out and out joy that all children deserve - no.

I wasn't strong enough to overlook what was happening and simply rejoice in her life, and that is something I will always regret.

For these reasons, and more, I know I was not a perfect mother to Peyton.

But that doesn't tell the whole story.

There were things I did right.
Things I know that I even did well.

Like comfort her.
And make her feel safe.

Peyton knew I loved her.
I held her a lot,
and told her so at every opportunity.

I sang to her the songs from my childhood.
And did skin to skin time in the hopes that it would improve her blood counts.

I traced every inch of her. 
Relished in each feature.
Breathed her in.

I talked to her about life outside the walls of the hospital. 
And did my best to make the right decisions.

But some of them were wrong. 
They must have been.

Had all the right decisions been made, Peyton would have survived. 
Wouldn't she?

When I think of all the papers I signed and the procedures I put her through hoping to save her life, and now knowing that it was for nothing, I feel the heavy boot of regret settle on my throat.

I still love Peyton today with the same intensity that I did when she was here.

I miss her like mad and imagine what our life could have been, what it should have been, with her in it.

I was not a perfect mother to Peyton.
I know this much is true.
But I tried my best.

So, are you ready for one more true sentence?

I am not a perfect mother to my snowflakes.

There are things that I do well -I know that. 

There are lessons I learned from loving and mothering Peyton that make me a better mother today than I probably would have been on my own.

Everything I do, and every decision I make, has been colored by my experiences with her.

Because of Peyton's life, I know to love better.
More fully.
More honestly.

I know to never let an opportunity to tell my children that I love them pass me by.

I know not to waste time, or take moments for granted.

I know how blessed, how truly, truly blessed I am to have them.

I know how important family is.

I know that they are the most important thing in my world.
That their happiness and safety are my top priorities.

That if I never succeed in anything else, this is something that I have to get right.

I am not a perfect mother.

I get frustrated, really frustrated, at times.
And don't always have the answers.

I tend to overthink the small things, and I definitely worry too much.

I allow the hard lessons learned through child loss to cloud my judgement,or scare me away from certain people, places or experiences, because of some perceived risk that I see in them.

When I make the same rookie mistakes that any sleep deprived mother could make, I don't know how to give myself a break or how to let go of the "what ifs."

I made one such rookie mistake last week.

I was exhausted.
And distracted.
And I goofed.

I got home after running errands, and opened the car door to find my son looking up at me with trusting eyes in a car seat that had not been properly buckled.

I couldn't believe I could do something so stupid!

He could have been hurt.
Really hurt.
He wasn't.
But he could have been.

Noticing my mistake, I scooped my little Bubba up into my arms and started to cry.

I have already lost a child due to something outside of my control.
The thought of not doing everything within my control to keep my twins safe was just too much.

I am not allowed to make these kinds of mistakes.
I should know better.

Bubba, who has never seen me cry, just smiled and cooed and smacked at the wetness on my cheeks with his teething-soaked hands, no worse for the wear, despite my error.

He had forgiven me, but I couldn't forgive myself.

What if?
What if?
What if?!

In that moment, I felt undeserving because I am not a perfect mother.

Not that anyone has accused me of being one, of course.
I am just being honest.

I am not a perfect mother.

But I am a mother who sings silly songs to make her little ones smile.

I am a mother who tells her children how happy they make me.

I am a mother who gets down to their level to play with them.

I cuddle them to help them feel secure in this new world,
and smother them with kisses and hugs.

I am a mother who celebrates each new milestone,
and is constantly rooting them on.

I am their biggest fan and my world revolves around them, as it should.

I am not a perfect mother, this is true, but I always try to do what is best for them, even if what's best for them feels like a struggle every-single-step-of-the-way, like exclusively breastfeeding them has been.

I am not a perfect mother, and that's okay.

I love my children.
ALL of my children.
Fully and unconditionally.

I am not a perfect mother, and yet, somehow, despite any missteps and mix ups along the way, I know that they don't need me to be.

My love will be enough.


  1. You will make lots of mistakes bringing them up. We all do. We shouldn't, but we're just mothers. Praying that you can find peace when making the mistakes. And yes, you're right, the children forgive you and they will still love you !

  2. No one is ever a perfect anything. What matters is that we strive to do the best we can, and I believe that you did, and you are, doing exactly that.

    (It's a good thing I already had a tissue in my hand. This one is a tear-jerker.)


  3. Hardest job job ever.

    We all beat ourselves up over Mommy decisions. I'm sure the decisions you made with Peyton are ones that you constantly second guess. I know that I don't know all the details and have never walked in your same pair of shoes, however, I think that if you hadn't tried everything to help her you would have regretted not trying everything to help her.

    Without a doubt, I know you did everything that you could. Without a doubt, I know that she knew that you loved her with every cell in your body. Without a doubt, I believe that she still feels your love.

    You are a wonderful Mommy. You are perfect for the three babies that have been given to you!

  4. Knowing that you are not perfect means you are being a great mom! Doing your best and giving your love so freely...that is what matters.

  5. None of us are perfect but our little one's don't know that (yet at least). You are doing a great job. You make all 3 of your kiddos proud.
    I agree this post is a tear jerker and got me thinking about my not so perfect parenting : )

  6. amazing post. thank you for sharing this and for being so honest. Nobody is perfect, there is no perfect mother. But I like to believe that you are the perfect mother to your children.

  7. Not perfect, no. But amazingly and beautifully human, yes!

  8. This post brought tears in my eyes. I too miss my baby a lot. Sometimes I feel it was due to my mistake that I lost him. I sometimes think - I'm not perfect - but am I the worst?

  9. Wow. Yes. Don't know what else to say. Except, me too.

  10. Wow. I think I cried through most of this post. Such honesty. So, thank you...

  11. You are not perfect, that is true, BUT, you are filled with love for your little ones.


  12. Way to make me feel the full range of emotions!

    Lovely, lovely post.

  13. Wow Kristin. You have no idea just how much I relate to this post. You are not alone. Big hugs for putting into words what I have not been able to do. Thankyou. xx