Thursday, April 4, 2013

When Your Best is Inadequate--but Enough

It's been a while since I've been able to get to the computer to write. Life is busy, of course, but the main reason I have been MIA, so to speak, is that I have not been well. For the past three months I have struggled with a couple of health issues that have made life so much more difficult than normal. The good thing about phases like this is that they always make me appreciate the strong, healthy body I usually have and the ability to take care of my family.

Thankfully, none of my problems are life-threatening or long-lasting, but I mention them because I have struggled to feel adequate in my efforts as a mother and wife the past few months, often feeling weighed down with thoughts of failure and disappointment that I have not been as attentive, as consistent, as patient, as fully committed to our family system as I usually am. I think these feelings can creep up so easily and begin to destroy our self-worth, making us feel like we are not enough, when in fact we are.

In January, my neurologist put me on a new medication to try to prevent migraine headaches. It sounded so great to think I could live a life without constant head pain, but after only a few days on the medication, I realized the remedy might be worse than the original problem. I experienced every side effect possible, including numb hands and feet, dizziness, shakiness, dry mouth, stomach cramps, inability to think clearly, and more. After only one week I told my husband I wasn't sure I could deal with it all. I promised myself I would give it a fair shot, however, and would continue the medication for at least one month.

It was not easy. I found myself being exhausted by 5:00 p.m., and if I sat down for any period of time, I would immediately fall asleep. I had to literally force myself to keep going until bedtime. I had to force my mind to think through the fogginess and mentally talk myself through times when I thought I would pass out, like when I was teaching Relief Society lessons. My life was not the same.

On top of this new medication, I was experiencing acute abdominal pain almost daily due to ovarian cysts that kept forming and rupturing. Some nights I would be in severe pain, wondering if I needed to go to the Emergency Room. I never did go; I just talked myself through each experience, reminding myself I made it through the last one and could do it again. I went to my doctor numerous times (Dan went with me each time--he's so wonderful in that way, so caring and involved), and we would spend a lot of time discussing options, trying to decide what to do. His approach was to exhaust every option before doing a surgery to remove everything. I thought being cautious was a good idea, but when the options we tried did not help at all, we decided surgery was necessary.

Last week I had a hysterectomy and a removal of my left ovary as well. I hope this isn't too much information to share on a blog, but it's hard to share my thoughts without being straight forward about what I've been dealing with. I spent one night in the hospital and then came home to heal. Holy cow! Let me just tell you, it is not an easy surgery to heal from. Many women who had experienced hysterectomies told me I was going to be down and out for at least a couple of weeks and to not overdo it, to just be patient. I listened. But, to be honest, I just thought I would be different. I have had many surgeries and have bounced back from each one without a hitch. I was sure this would be the same.


I have hardly been able to function at all, spending most of my time on the couch or in bed. Just a few days after surgery, I got a migraine. This was the second one in less than two weeks. I stopped taking the medication--cold turkey--which I do not recommend (one is supposed to gradually wean off of it).

Needless to say, I have been quite miserable. And needless to say, I have not been at the top of my game as a mother and wife--not even close--for the past three months. All of these health issues have worn me down and made life so much more difficult. I had so many days when it was all I could do to endure the day and cover the basics, let alone go the extra mile. And because of this, little by little, I have felt worthless and discouraged, knowing my children need more of me than I can give them.

I guess I'm sharing all of this because, as uncomfortable as this whole experience has been, I am learning some things that I think are so valuable. And the most important one is this: We can only do our best--sometimes our best is absolutely amazing and sometimes it's barely adequate, but if it's our best, it's enough! When life is good, and I am healthy, I can be the consistent, focused, present, patient, on-the-ball mother I feel my children really need and deserve. When life's circumstances intrude and I am struggling with health issues, my best may only include the barest important basics of the day. Either way, I am enough.

It's so hard to remember that. I see my children slowly unraveling due to my inability to be fully engaged like normal, and it's easy to blame myself and feel discouraged. I've had to constantly remind myself that I will heal, I will regain my strength, and I will be able to mother in full force again. Until then, my children will be okay. Yes, they will probably have an adjustment period where they must be reminded of what is really expected; and yes, it will probably take some time and serious effort to get everything under control again. But we will get through it.

I want to write all of this now, when I am weak and struggling, so I can remember clearly this important truth. And I want my girls to know it wasn't always easy. I want them to know I battled discouragement and inadequacy at times, but I got through it, and so can they. I want them to read this and know that they are enough, even when life seems to shout they are not.

I feel so blessed to be healthy most of the time and able to take care of my family. I know there are women who struggle with far bigger health issues, ones that never go away, and my heart goes out to them. I know I will heal and I will regain my strength, and I am learning to really appreciate that. I also have tremendous gratitude for the many people who have stepped in and helped our family--with dinners, child care (my three youngest children went to Wyoming for 5 days, being cared for by my sister and parents), cards, flowers, and more. The service rendered has helped significantly! I am so grateful for an abundance of wonderful people in my life!

Life is good. There is always so much to be grateful for. But when times are a little tough and I am less than I want to be, I hope I can remember I am still enough!

This is pretty much what I've looked like for a week. Yesterday Berkley fell asleep and snuggled up to me. It was heaven. I thought she would be mad at me for leaving her in Wyoming for nearly a week, but when she got home, she smothered me over and over with kisses and just kept repeating, "Mama." It was the sweetest thing ever!


Melanie B said...

love your transparency - for sure you are enough! I got a hold of my great grandmothers very very short journal and it was a mere paragraph about her feelings over loosing her daughter but it completely reached out to me.