I don’t see enough written about how hard motherhood really is. I see blogs full of witty lists, short and easy to digest on the fly. But nothing about how truly it can break you down, how your former self, can feel so far gone.
Sometimes, when it’s particularly bad, I sense my own flood gates close, one by one. It’s a disconnecting process, a place I go to survive when my sensitive, needy toddler screams and cries at the slightest challenge. And then, of course, my baby starts to cry. A little piece of me dies.
Sometimes I can peek out from the battened down hatches and try to send love and patience his way. But do you know how hard that is after an entire day of doing it? I run out of reserves. Though my tone can get really stern, I use my feeling words: “I am starting to get frustrated, I am now frustrated. I see you are frustrated too. You really wanted to pile all your stuffed animals on top of your brother.”
On one occasion, after an impromptu dinner party, I returned home with two screaming children. The party was too stimulating for my toddler. He asked that I stay by his side constantly. I ended up eating in a play room on the floor. I hardly spoke to any adults. So many of the other kids were older. I wanted to say “People, don’t you remember how hard this is? Reach out and help a lady!” But I chilled myself out with, “Well, at least I’m sitting on a different floor, in a different space, even if I’m doing what I would have done at home.”
Sometimes I tell myself that I chose this, so what right do I have to complain. We are healthy, we have a home and food.
One friend offered comfort, reminding me that she remembered how insane she used to feel. Her words helped relieve my sense of guilt and self-numbing. “It’s so freaking hard and don’t let anyone make you feel crazy for thinking so!”
So I offer you my compassion as you parent; forge on, acknowledging the crazy moments and celebrating the glorious ones. That’s parenthood, the brilliant with the sacrifice. And may our children thank us one day when they, too, feel the burden.