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I am/not enough, and so are you

Just another parenting paradox. As a mom, I have come to accept the fact that I am not enough. And I have embraced the enlightenment that I am.

*I am not enough.* My children will always want more of my time, attention, and affection. Both of them would climb back inside my body if that were an option. The eldest is still so racked with jealousy beyond jealousy at the younger’s very existence, that I’m surprised she’s let him live. If I had more to give, they would greedily gobble it up. I am not enough. 

*I am enough.* No mother on this planet loves her children more than I love mine. They feel the love and devotion. They are confident in their souls that they have a safe place in my heart. Simply by being their mother, I am enough.

*I am not enough.* I cannot do this alone. If any women are wired to be with their children all day everyday, I am not among them. I thrive best when my children are with other caregivers (their dad, a nanny, a sitter, preschool) some of the time. When circumstances (a nanny quitting, our choosing to switch preschools, a shelter-in-place order cutting us off from all things normal) necessitate that I put my work on ice and be the full-time, full-on caregiver, I come face to face with the worst in me. By not having the time to think my thoughts all the way through, accomplish personal and work goals, interact with other adults, and get physical exercise, time becomes a scarce resource, and I become short tempered. It’s not pretty. I am simply not enough, and that has to be ok.

*I am enough.* I try to release feelings of guilt that I don’t like being a stay at home mom and feelings of shame that it doesn’t come easily to me, and I scaffold our lives in a way that allows all of us to thrive. I set myself and my family up for success when I position myself as part of a team that includes my husband and other caregivers who are devoted to making sure these kids thrive. And thrive they do! Because that is enough, and so am I.

*I am not enough.* I don’t want to play right now. I am not their on-demand entertainment and playmate. I am their mother, and I have other things I have to do, other things I want to do. But you know what? THEY are enough. He and she are enough, in their imaginations and spirits and wonder. The WORLD is enough, and it is there for them to learn about and contribute to. I am not enough, and I was never meant to be.

*I am enough.* I am a person. I am worthy. One of my roles is mother, and I show up in different ways at different times. I am not everything, but I am enough.

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