There was never a doubt in my mind that I would be a mother.
When I was young, if someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my response was that I wanted to take care of babies and animals. Maybe it was growing up with six siblings that made me value family. Maybe it was my conservative upbringing that commanded we go forth and multiply that made me want to oblige. Maybe it was the gender roles that had been instilled in me my entire life – women are to be wives and mothers. Barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen and all that. Whatever the reason, I knew I would be a mom.
A family member once said, “We’ll be lucky if Beka has any children.” Implying that she did not suspect I ever wanted kids. Perhaps it was my seeming indifference towards her children, or my inability show a loving nurturing side, or perhaps my lack of patience and understanding with children. Regardless of her reason behind it, it really bothered me. Who was she to judge my heart’s desires? I always wanted children.
And then I had my son.
I love my son so much, there are times I think I might eat him! I love him more fiercely than I ever thought possible to love another human. I see now why my generation of moms has taken on the title “Mama Bear.” Moms are fierce in all things, even their love.
But I have admitted out loud on more than one occasion (possibly too many occasions) that I probably should not have been a mother.
*GASP* How can a mother say that? How can a mother look at her child and feel anything but blissful perfection? The completion a tiny human brings to a mother’s heart and life is supposed to be overwhelming!
Well, there are times I struggle to find the joy in motherhood. The consistent happiness. The state of peace and contentment. I cannot seem to find myself within motherhood.
There are times I just want to be done being a mom.
When I am away from my son, I miss him quite terribly. When I am home and wholly focused on him, I feel overwhelmed. When I am home with him and otherwise occupied, I feel neglectful. All the pressure that a mom feels to focus on her children without helicopter-moming, but also take time for herself, but also be productive outside the home, but also keep the family in order, but also…but also…but also…all while enjoying every moment…it is exhausting.
Some days are just hard. Some days I wonder why I do this and why, God help me, I am considering ever having another child.
The other day was one of those hard days.
I had this feeling of impending doom. Everything was wrong. I could not manage to do anything. I felt heavy and sad and angry. Parenting suddenly felt like the most pointless task. I had to coax my toddler through three meals and a nap that day, and I had to do it all again the next day! But not just that day, everyday for the next who-knows-how-many years. This is not a project with an end in sight, this is the rest of my life.
This is not a twelve week program. This is my forever.
When we first switched my son to a toddler bed, he slept well at night, but naps were a different story. He seemed to think they are optional. He thought he could just stage a walk-out whenever he felt so inclined. So, the other day I set up post in front of his door to shoo him back to his bed each time he attempted escape, and my husband said,
“You don’t think it’s a little ridiculous to sit there through his whole nap?”
And my response was that parenting was ridiculous! To go through the same motions over and over everyday in hopes that these tiny people absorbed something. To give up so much for someone who could not give a damn, just so they can one day be a decent person. It seems so crazy that so many people choose to do this! I chose this. I longed for this. I prayed for this.
I am not sure how my husband is able to handle me on these difficult days as well as he does. I am constantly saying that I simply do not have time or energy to manage other’s emotions because I have my own, and now, my son’s to tend to.
Mothers, sisters, coworkers, friends, I am sorry, I will listen to you all day and offer support when I can, but I simply cannot get sucking into your drama or your sensitivities right now. I just do not have the energy. I know, I suck.
But somehow, my husband is able to do it for me. He is always there to pull me out of my funk, to insist I get out of the house, even if it is to go to the grocery store to buy him chicken tenders… wait…oh, this is all making sense now… but seriously. Some days are just hard.
I would love to present myself as the perfect millennial mom. The mom who was meant to be. The mom who wears the crown of motherhood high on her head, and walks proud. The mom who has it all figured out, and is willing to help everyone else figure it out too.
But I am not. I am struggling too.
I know there are mothers with more children who balance more in a day. There are parents with children who scream and bite and have meltdowns in the grocery store. There are mothers who have not slept through the night in years. There are even mothers whose arms ache from the babies they never had, and they would give anything to have my struggles.
I should count myself lucky, right? “It could be worse” you say. But just because I am not struggling the same way as you, does not mean I am not struggling just as hard.
Your low and my low can be our lowest without being the same.
Not everyone’s lowest is the same depth.
Each of us was only given what we can handle, therefore we must conclude that anyone with bigger struggles can handle more than I can. They are a stronger woman. A better mother.
A few toys on the floor is all I can take before I feel anxious, and start frantically cleaning my entire house to the point where my husband gets up and helps because he can only assume the queen is coming over in ten minutes! Why else would Beka be cleaning so frantically? One child refusing to eat his asparagus because there is a spoon under his chair is about all I can handle in a day before I am tying a knot in the end of my rope and desperately hanging on.
You and I can both be at the end of our ropes without being in the same place.
You were just given a longer rope than I was.
So, yeah. Some days are just really freaking hard. And that is ok. Those hard days deserve to be felt, accepted, and then tucked away just like the good days. Do not ever let anyone tell you that you are not allowed to have a bad day or to feel unhappy or overwhelmed or unsatisfied with your new role. Feel all of it. Just do not live there.
I fully accept the fact that I am not a natural born mother, and I do not love motherhood. But I love my little boy and I love being his.