I spend a lot of time dishing about how hard parenting is, how relentless and unappreciated, and exhausting it can be to grow little humans. I do this because it’s true, and I think, in general, the world could use more truth.
When I was a new mom I found all of these resources, mostly books, but eventually blogs (when I joined the 20th century) that talked about the challenges of motherhood. But, most did it in this very
unrealistic understated way. For example, if they were talking about Hurricane Katrina, they’d say, “Oh it was quite the shower, but you know, into each life a little rain must fall. It’s awfully wet, but at least we have umbrellas!!!! Sure, people died, and that’s sad, but look at how we worked together to gather the bodies!!!”
I felt like I was going through something entirely different than everyone I read about.
For a while I was quiet. I was ashamed of how blindsided I felt by my new role as mother, embarrassed by how obviously unprepared I was. I felt like that woman who misjudges when her period is coming, and spends the afternoon at the playground with a shirt tied around her waist. My incompetence was the bloodstain, and I certainly didn’t want to show it off. Then one day, I looked a little closer and noticed that most of the moms I actually knew were wearing shirts around their waists too. And I thought, This is ridiculous. We are all hiding the same thing: the fear that we are failing, the fear that we’ve bitten off more than we can chew, the fear that everyone else knows something we don’t know. And so I untied that shirt and waved it around yelling, You aren’t alone! Hey look! Me too! I have no idea what I’m doing! It’s okay!
I made a point of reaching out to every new mother I came across to ask, “How are you really? Is this what you thought it would be like?” And to say, “It’s okay to think it sucks. It’s okay to think you’re doing it wrong. It’s okay that you’re tired, and scared, and thinking maybe you should have just gotten a puppy.” Without exception, every new mommy seemed relived to hear it.
However, sometimes I feel like the Scrooge of motherhood. Like people expect me to wish happy parents could be boiled in their own breastmilk. Not so!
Here’s another truth: Sometimes my children are so sweet I want to eat them. I feel like Lenny from Of Mice and Men, in danger of strangling the life out those cute little bunnies by hugging them too hard. Sometimes one of my older children does, or says something, that makes me feel like I could die this moment, assured of the fact that humanity is in good hands.
Sometimes, listening to one of the twins narrate her every movement (Awice goes up da stairs to save da pwincess from da dwagon. Go Awice go!) my heart palpitates in a way that a love letter from Johnny Depp could never duplicate. And Johnny Depp ranks high on the “Wouldn’t Count” list. (You know… if you had an affair with _____ it wouldn’t count because… c’mon)
Tonight, as my littles were headed off to bed, I couldn’t stop kissing them. They were just too delicious, and I was just too aware that this time is fleeting. I couldn’t stop thinking: Soon they will be big, and they’ll know how to say ‘L’s and ‘R’s, and they won’t hand me scribbled papers all day “just for you, mama”, and they won’t need a song in the middle of the night, and people won’t stare at me in the grocery store and say things like, “Wow! you have your hands FULL!” And I’ll sleep for more than 3 hours straight, and my house will not be covered in crushed goldfish, and I’ll be… sorry it’s over.
And so I kissed them and kissed them and tickled them and tickled them until Alice said, “Mama! Mama! I can’t bweathe! I can’t breathe! You gonna kill me wif cuteness!”
Me too, baby.