I was standing in the hallway tonight, urging my toddler to fall asleep in his bed, awaiting his recurrent footsteps towards doorway when something hit me.
I didn't completely fuck it all up.
At least I remembered to do this.
Next to me on the wall, five ceramic wall hangings in various shapes, sizes and colors. Two with imprints, the others just painted whimsically. Each one with the name and a date on them, each one containing the footprints of a different child of mine.
Each one was created on their first birthday.
The actual day of their first birthdays.
Not three months late or whenever I managed to remember. The actual day.
I have a similar group on display downstairs. Pictures of them all playing with their feet on the day they turned six months old. Again, on the actual day.
I finally got the last two sets footprints hung up in the hallway today.
The baby is almost two and a half. I've had his plate, the last of the bunch, for well over a year now. His older brother is eight. Eight.
(I know, I know...timeliness isn't one of my strong suits. I'm aware.)
I was standing there, begging this child to finally lay down long enough to realize just how tired he was, when it hit me.
I didn't fuck it all up.
And I have proof.
You see, earlier tonight, in the car, I confessed to another of my children that I had postpartum depression. I told the oldest last year.
I told this one tonight in the way I told this one because I was trying to communicate the fact that none of us are immune to these mental health struggles and just because it usually appears that I have my shit together, I absolutely do not always have my shit together.
So, here kid.
Here's a figurative picture of the shit sandwich I was served all those years ago.
The kid...was...quiet. Surprised I think.
And then I admitted that I don't remember the entire first year of their younger sibling's life. And by extension, part of their childhood.
And let me tell you.....that's not a fun thing to admit to anyone, let alone your own kid.
Shit sandwich, coming right up.
I wondered tonight, just as I wondered last year when I opened up that particular closet for the oldest, whether I was doing the right thing by telling this kid. Maybe they'll see me as more human. Maybe they'll understand that I understand them more than they realized up until that moment. Maybe they'll appreciate the fact that I trust them with this stuff. Maybe they'll think I am an abysmal failure as a parent.
That nagging self doubt.
That part of it never really goes away.
Just like I still haven't really forgiven myself for not only having had PPD as badly as I did, but more so for KNOWING that there was something very wrong with me and having done nothing for as long as I did until I spiraled and spiraled and spiraled and forgot an entire year.
So, there I was. On this evening of vulnerability, trying to get my last, and yet another PPD baby to bed.
Staring at this wall of baby feet.
I realized in that moment that I'd made these things, these keepsake things that will someday either sit in a box in their basements or collect dust on a wall in their hallways, I'd made them in some of the absolute darkest days of my life.
When I couldn't even see the tiny light at the end of the tunnel, when I hated myself with every ounce of my being and doubted whether I should have ever even had children, when I was convinced that I was failing my husband and myself and them, I'd proven to myself that I wasn't a complete failure.
I could still do what I needed to do to protect these little legacies. I still was fostering traditions and adhering to the illusions of what motherhood was supposed to be like in my head. I was still doing it.
And I was doing it as much for them as I was doing it for me.
At least I did this.
I could still manage to keep those dates in the back of my mind and force myself to do these things that I wanted to make sure I did for each one of them.
Not only could I still do it...I did.
At least I did this.
I didn't fuck everything up.
I wasn't a failure, at least not entirely.
The tiny feet in the hallway told me so.
And you know, on a day like today, I really really really needed to hear that.
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