Of Motherhood and Monsters


(Image courtesy of www.medicaldaily.com)

Motherhood.  Hard doesn’t really begin to describe it, does it?  Yet, that’s the blanket statement I use when words fail to adequately describe the level of difficulty something is.  Like,”My 10 year old’s math homework is hard“.  I guess I could also say,”My 10 year old’s math homework stumps me because its been 26 years since I’ve done it, and I’m pretty sure they’ve changed the rules since then”, but I’ve got things to do.

Being a mom is like being given a monumental job, but you’re denied resources, directions, equipment, and even additional help at times, all while being told every step of the way that you’re doing it wrong; given “advice”; told by 1000 different people 1000 different ways to handle every.  single.  challenge you face while completing the job; and still being expected to juggle all your other daily responsibilities.

And did I mention that the average completion time of said job is roughly 18 years, give or take?

It seems nearly impossible, and yet, with all the adults running around- some even having tiny humans themselves- it apparently is not.

It leads me to wonder, though, why more of the older generation doesn’t warn the newbies more.  They’ll wax nostalgic about all the good times, but they’ll leave out the teething years- where NOTHING helps; they’ll conveniently leave out the story about the time when they were sick with a sick 5 year old, but instead of taking care of themselves, they had to deal with throw up on ALL THE THINGS while trying to keep from throwing up themselves.  Memories of “cuddly babies with the new baby smell” abound, while they fail to mention that the ACTUAL new baby smell is akin to a sewage treatment plant.

Just once, I wish that someone had told me (before I had my first): “Once he’s born, hold tight to him, but not so tight that you aren’t willing to take a break for yourself, because you’re going to be bone-tired soon.  Like, the kind of tired that swallows you whole; where you feel like you’ve been running forever without rest and without an end in sight.  Enjoy the sweet coos, because all too soon, they’ll be replaced by the harsh words of an angry teen, and they’ll say things that will hurt you, and you to them, and in the middle of the night you’ll cry yourself to sleep thinking about how you failed that day.

Don’t rush to get them to walk, because soon enough, they’ll be all over the place, whether you want it or not.  Enjoy the inactivity- one day your calendar will be filled, but it won’t be overflowing with YOUR social engagements.”

Yep.  I would’ve respected an individual who had told me that.

Today, I got told off by a toddler because I wasn’t playing pretend to his standards.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

I listened to a 2 1/2 year old scream at me because my imagination wasn’t in sync with his.

I also answered a slew of questions, most of which I had to Google- although, next time I might just make up the answers.

Scratch that. I don’t want my child to get funny looks when he explains that you can’t see the stars during the day because they’re cosmic ninjas.

I attempted to mop the floors 5 times before remembering that I have boys.

I’ve dealt with 5,022 fights…5,023…5,024, and that’s just within the last hour.

And I’ve watched as a toddler fought naptime harder than any boxer has fought an opponent.

I’ve had people tell me that “at least, as a stay at home mom, you get the occasional break.  You don’t have a boss breathing down your neck, making sure you’re always working”, and, to a degree, they’re right.  I don’t ever have the fear of being fired (though, I think my hubby fears I’ll quit one day), but can I tell you something?

I’m a runner, or at least, I pretend to be when all the stars align, and I’m able to get in a run; and I remember saying once that I don’t need to schedule rest days because something always seems to come up that keeps me from running anyway.  And I had someone tell me that having to take a rest day because something came up- that ultimately didn’t let my body rest and recover- WASN’T a rest day.

I’ve figured out that the same goes for all the “rest” periods I face throughout the day as a stay at home mom:

  • Naptimes are where I catch up on cleaning.
  • BRIEF moments when he’s actually paying attention to a cartoon- again, spent cleaning.
  • Bathroom breaks are, well, for going to the bathroom.
  • Even the RARE moments when I might get to watch something other than a kids’ show are spent holding a kid, building towers to be knocked down, answering questions, or playing make-believe.

I’ve also heard that each day you should try and get in at least 15 minutes to yourself, but to that I have 2 questions: when, and in what universe is 15 minutes considered enough time to recharge?

But, the “hard” part is, we as moms are expected to do it all, and God knows, I’ve tried.

I’m a mom to 4 boys with 4 different levels of neediness and difficulty; a wife to a man that works 5 days a week from before the sun comes up to an hour or so before the boys go to bed; a runner when life allows; a team mom; a pet owner; a caretaker of a home that never stays clean; a cook; a chauffer; a referee; and an owner of mass quantities of mom guilt that screams I’m never enough.

On some level I know that my boys won’t need therapy in the future because their childhood wasn’t magical, complete with organic snacks, homemade costumes, a full activity schedule, and a tree house in a large oak tree, but that still doesn’t stop me from figuring out the financial costs and logistics of having a large oak transplanted into our yard.

Yes.  Motherhood is an amazing blessing, and I marvel at each new and wondrous thing my boys learn- like flushing the toilet.

Just kidding.

They still haven’t mastered that.

I stand in awe that God entrusted me- ME! the girl who has a black thumb- to care for 4 miraculous individuals.

But don’t be fooled.  Motherhood is hard.  So hard that words fail, and your mind apparently blocks it out as you grow older.

So, could we all just promise to do this one thing?  The next time you see that frazzled mom- you know the one- holding a screaming toddler, arguing with a defiant Kindergartner, and getting yelled at by an older kid, could we all just PLEASE not stare wistfully at that mom, telling them to “enjoy it while it lasts” because “it goes by so quickly”?  Because, honestly, it doesn’t feel like a fleeting moment when you’re in the trenches.

Could we maybe instead offer up something ACTUALLY helpful?  Maybe help to push their cart to their car?  Or- if you know the mom- offer to watch the kids for an hour so the mom can get a coffee and decompress?  Or, heck, maybe we could just smile and say,”Kids can be jerks.  Ya know, there was a time…”, and talk about our own battle stories.  Anything to let that mom know that she isn’t alone, because loneliness is scary and dark, and its where the monsters hide.  Monsters that claw at our nerves; maul our confidence; laugh at our worries; and scream every fear imaginable until it echoes in our minds every waking hour.

Motherhood is “hard”, but when you know you have people supporting you, you’ll make it out alive; and maybe one day, you’ll be able to be there for another mom going through the same thing.