A wise friend of mine once observed that if mothers had nothing to feel guilty about, they would find something.
Those words have followed me through 28 years of motherhood, and they still ring true more times than I would like. Times such as now.
If you read last week's post, you might remember that I mentioned I was saving my guilt for another post? This is that post. To recap, Mika started on an antidepressant about a month ago, and one of the wonderful, amazing effects is that she has started to see the world in colour again, rather than in shades of gray.
Seeing her happy again at last was one thing. But hearing that she'd been living a life without colour? That was like a blow to the solar plexus--and I've been wrestling with my Guilt Monster ever since because, again to recap, I'M HER MOTHER HOW COULD I HAVE MISSED SOMETHING SO AWFUL?!
The truth is, we could have had Mika on a pharmaceutical much sooner. (GUILT)
But we had avoided doing so for a number of REASONs:
1. My husband is a former police officer and drug expert. Because of his work, we were both acutely aware of how vulnerable the developing adolescent brain is (the pre-frontal cortex isn't fully developed until age 25), and how the impact of pharmaceuticals on that brain isn't always a good one. In our case, this was of particular concern because of the next point.
2. Mika tended to react--or should I say overreact--to pretty much any medication she took. We only discovered last year that she had a number of food sensitivities and nutritional deficiencies related to her Trisomy X and her MTHFR gene mutation, but all through her adolescence, my gut told me that 'something' wasn't right.
3. I'm going to admit up front that I had a skeptical view of pharmaceutical antidepressants to begin with after watching the struggle my mother and other relatives had with finding the right one, the right dose, etc. For me, this was a last resort, with a whole lot of other things that I preferred she try first.
4. Any adverse reaction Mika might have had to a medication was one more thing that would have fallen to me to deal with because she, quite simply, didn't have the wherewithal to cope.
5. And most importantly, Mika herself recognized her lack of coping skills and didn't want to take the risk.
Still, my 20-20 hindsight keeps whispering that I coulda-shoulda insisted, because my daughter had been living without colour!!! (GUILT)
This despite assurances from our naturopath that a positive outcome would have been far less likely prior to getting Mika as balanced as she is now. (REASON) Or reminding myself that we did it! We made it through the critical brain development period! (REASON) Or even Mika herself telling me that she hadn't been ready until now. (REASON)
So... right now, I'm focusing on the good things that are happening for her now--colour, happy, smiling, going out with friends, more happy--and (rather wisely, I think) I am asking my friends and family to remind me that I'm not the horrible mother my Guilt Monster would like me to believe.
Not about this.
Not about the time the dye-job I did for one of the girls turned out like a patchwork quilt.
Not about the time I lost my sh*t over another of them refusing to wear the brand new snowsuit I'd bought for her (because overnight, pink had gone from being her favourite color to the most hated one in the universe).
Not about leaving one baby crying for too long because I had another to tend, or forgetting infant Mika in her car seat in the front hall until one of the twins reminded me about her as we were pulling out of the driveway, or the million and one other times (real or imagined) that I wish I'd done something differently... and likely will again in future. *sigh*
Because this parenting gig? It's hard enough without us being hard on ourselves as well. We truly are doing the best that we can, and there is no one answer (and oftentimes, no right answer) to many of the challenges we face. These kids who arrive squalling into our lives don't come with instruction books, and what works for one won't necessarily work for another (not even in the same family). All we can really do is love them, try to raise them into adulthood more or less in one piece, and then recognize that the journey they embark on is their own, complete with pitfalls, mistakes, and yes, some dark times, too.
I say we remember that, fellow parents--and let's all stop looking for things to feel guilty about, shall we? And for the record, I'm guessing that you're not a horrible mother (or father), either. *hugs*