I’ve said it before, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
I’m not going to lie. I struggle with this.
I struggle to forgive humanity for being human.
I struggle to forgive my friends for misunderstandings that happen between us.
I struggle to forgive my parents for things they have done.
I struggle to forgive my siblings for their wrongdoings.
I struggle to forgive my kids for being kids and making mistakes.
I struggle to forgive my husband when he does something wrong.
I struggle to forgive God (seriously) when life doesn’t go the way I need it to, the way I have it planned.
Most of all, though, I struggle to forgive myself and I have a LOT to forgive myself for.
I have to forgive myself for being a doormat to my parents for the first 15 years of my life.
I have to forgive myself for rebelling against the Broncos and maintaining allegiance to the Green Bay Packers, then rebelling by starting to wear lots of black (a heretofore parental unapproved color) after the Packers lost THE GAME. Brett Farve, you let me down, man.
I have to forgive myself for falling in with the wrong crowd at my job and letting them influence me (Mom, Dad- I’m still innocent of your perceptions and certain fictional journal entries. Love you, but get over falling for a lie in my journal.)
I have to forgive myself for losing my faith.
I have to forgive myself for wasting my last precious moments with my Pop-Pop and not speaking to him for the 2 years before his death.
I have to forgive myself for hurting my aunt and uncle and for being a burden to them when they were kind enough to open their homes and hearts to me when I desperately needed the love of family.
I have to forgive myself for a mostly wasted trip to the United Kingdom.
I have to forgive myself for hurting my Ma and Grumps over the gift of that trip and the time that they lavished on my ungrateful self.
I have to forgive myself for cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs.
I have to forgive myself for dropping out of school (I still think my senior year was a complete waste of my academic time. Freshman classes for a super-smart senior? Yeah, no. (I’m not humble about my academics. Yet another thing to work on…)
I have to forgive myself for being raped, beaten, and living a very shameful life worrying more about my next party, my next drink, my next hit, than my body, my soul, and my general well-being..
I have to forgive myself for delivering my oldest daughter so early. For being in shock at her birth. For having to leave her at hospital, hooked up to tubes.
I have to forgive myself for having to go on Food Stamps and Medicaid, and making a withdrawal from my future Social Security deposits.
I have to forgive myself for losing our first apartment.
I have to forgive myself for spending such little time with my oldest as I worked 2-3 jobs to make ends meet once we got off state assistance.
I have to forgive myself for not meeting and falling in love with my husband sooner.
I have to forgive myself for a second unplanned, premarital pregnancy.
I have to forgive myself for marrying outside of my Church.
I have to forgive myself for struggling with strong depression, anxiety, and soul-chilling fear through the last 2 pregnancies. (#1 doesn’t count since I didn’t know I was pregnant.)
I have to forgive myself for the meds that I had to take to make it through those pregnancies and the potential damage that the meds did to my daughters.
I have to forgive myself for losing my job.
I have to forgive myself for choosing to be a stay-at-home-mom.
I have to forgive myself for going back to school (it really does feel selfish, in spite of the benefits that I know it will bring to my family in the future).
I have to forgive myself for the time and effort that my school work takes, which takes time away from my family and other responsibilities (like cleaning and spending time with my friends).
I have to forgive myself for the days I’m too exhausted to take my children to Mass (ohhhhhh, I have to work on that one. YIKES.)
I have to forgive myself for the nights that I don’t make dinner for my family, for the housecleaning pushed to the side (yeah, literally, especially on my desk and my dining room table), for the times where I promise to make my kids favorite granola bars but push it off because I don’t have time, for the books I forget to read to my kids, for the times I can’t stop to play Polly Pockets.
I have to forgive myself for my temper (especially when it comes to helping my teenager with her homework).
I have to forgive myself for not taking care of myself properly.
I have to forgive myself for being a struggling human being, who is slowly, but surely, learning how to be the best mother, the best wife, and the best child of God that I can be.
Whew! That was a long-winded confession. A priest would tell me to get over myself, to forgive my past, get over my crappy relationship with my parents and let it be whatever it is, to get my marriage blessed by the Church (it’s complicated), and to get my tuchus to Mass every Sunday along with those of my children. He would say to stop and read books with my children more often, try sweeping the floor before I go to bed, and to stop stressing out so much about graduating summa cum laude (totally my goal but I guess wouldn’t magna cum laude isn’t soooo bad…sigh).
So what prompted this confession? Well, one, it’s Forgiveness Friday, here on this blog. Secondly, I watched this amazing video of a premature baby’s journey through his first year. He was 2 ounces bigger than my oldest, and went through many of the same things. The technology is slightly more advanced (ventilator tubing is no longer hard and too stiff to move with less than 2 nurses and a respiratory therapist on hand just so Mommy can hold her baby). However, the emotions, the fear, the sadness at leaving your child overnight (parents, in my experience, are not allowed to sleep overnight in the NICU), the fear of breaking your fragile baby, are all expressed in this film.The fear of the unknown, the disbelief that such a thing could happen to you, the terror of falling O2 sats and heart rates. The inexplicable joy of hearing their first cry, of giving them their first bottle (it’s really difficult to breastfeed micro-preemies), and the unbelievable disbelief, joy, and renewed terror when your NICU doctor tells you that your baby can go home, then gives you the GINORMOUS list of therapies and cautions for the further well-being of your precious miracle.
This video gives a beautiful peek at the preemie experience. I caution you to have a box of tissues nearby.
I was 18 years old, a depressed and troubled teen, and my experience with motherhood, the NICU, and my beautiful baby, gave me the strength to struggle, the guilt of the last 32 years, and the wisdom to realize that I need to work on my life, continually, until my Final Judgement.
It’s Forgiveness Friday, folks. It’s freezing. My advice is to bake some chocolate chip cookies, watch this video, engage in some self-reflection, and cuddle with your kids.
I will be stressing out over my homework with some fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.