A New(ish) Reality

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


A couple months ago I went on a walk with one of my older-than-me-single-but-wants-to-be-married-with-children girlfriends. It was only 11:00am but already I was having the WORST day. All I wanted to do was hide my tears behind dark sunglasses, push the stroller, and moan about how rotten motherhood was. I needed one of those really good cries that shakes your soul but then somehow sets the world right the next morning. Instead I tried to explain my situation to my friend using vague terms, dancing around the fact that I didn't want to cause offense or sound condescending. But, as you might imagine, that's a tricky tightrope to navigate. And in the end I said far less than I wanted. Because complaining about something someone else wants or does not understand seems pointless.

As the oldest child of five children I thought I knew a great deal about taking care of kids. I was nine when my youngest siblings (twins) came along. I remember holding both babies on my hips, telling people they were mine. I spent most of my adolescent years making a few bucks caring for other kids in our neighborhood and I felt pretty confident in my abilities to tidy up the kitchen while keeping all children feed, occupied, and generally happy. Needless to say I felt ready for this whole motherhood gig.*

Then, as life goes, A LOT of years went by and I became comfortable at making my way in the world. On my own. Without kids.

Now I am a mother. Not an older sister and not a babysitter. A bonafide take-care-of-another-helpless-human-being-24-7 mother. And it's hard. SO HARD. The days she doesn't nap, or fakes me out by only napping 30 minutes, make me want to tear my hair out and smash something. The moments when I know she is hungry and I go to the trouble of making her a meal only to have her refuse it is infuriating. Sometimes I am startled by the roar of anger inside me, a fierceness I did not know I possessed. But instead of lashing out I grit my teeth, take a deep breath (or leave the room for five minutes), and take care of my daughter.

Then there's the monotony. Which I hope is of limited duration. The longest shortest time, or so I'm told.

I am not a young mother and sometimes my geriatric age makes me feel like I am running a marathon with tires chained to my ankles. And I know I'm lucky. People go to all kinds of lengths to have children. Many people want children and can't have them. The list of people that would make good and descent parents is endless. However that does not make my experience on the hardest days less difficult. Or less real.

If I could go back and talk to my single-self I would tell her to spend less time grooming and more time enjoying hobbies. I would tell her to store a lifetime of weekends and relish sleeping in. I would tell her to stop being so selfish. And yes, I would even encourage her to watch her friend's children every once in a while, because I am now convinced that giving a stay-at-home-parent a morning, afternoon, or evening off is basically winning the lottery.

*Although I have never been among the women that say Being a mother is all I've ever wanted. For me, that is simply not true.

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