When I was in middle school my sister and I fought like cats and dogs. Actually, that’s not true. We were worse. Way worse. We fought like two bridezillas at a Vera Wang sample sale. We were vicious.
One afternoon my sister and I were verbally abusing each other as we climbed into my mother’s suburban, likely headed to piano, volleyball or another extracurricular activity my mom constantly chauffeured us to. There’s no doubt in my mind we had probably been fighting for hours on end.
Suddenly, our mom had enough and said, “Sometimes I wonder why I even had children!”
My sister and I stopped dead in our tracks, our claws retracted and our jaws dropped. Did our mother just say that? Wasn’t she supposed to love us unconditionally? How could she say something like that?
A few minutes later my mom profusely apologized to us, telling us over and over how much she loved us. She explained how tired she was of hearing us yell and fight. The guilt of her snap statement was written all over her face.
Nearly 23-years later I look back at this memory with a much different viewpoint. Now being a mother of two myself, I would’ve high-fived my frazzled mother, poured her a glass of wine and said, “ME TOO!” Because good LAWD, mothering is hard y’all. I have that same thought daily during holiday/summer breaks.
Yesterday I found myself sitting in the middle of Marjorie’s room in tears. The house was a wreck (despite my scrubbing it yesterday), my phone kept binging with emails, the kids were loud and I had just received my fifth knee to the face that day. Why do children think their moms are automatic jungle gyms when we sit on the floor? And where can I teach my giant son about spatial reasoning? He is like a great dane that thinks he is a yorkie, always wanting in your lap or on your back.
It was one of those parenting days where I threw my kids in the car and went to the car wash even though it was raining. Yes, I looked crazy to the car wash people, but little did they know this is my favorite parenting hack. The car wash guarantees me with at least 20-minutes of personal space and partial silence (thank you to ear phones).
I wanted to push the opt out button of motherhood yesterday and knowing we still had a week of Christmas break left made my chest spill over with anxiety. This inevitably caused my Bad Mom Gremlins to creep into my brain and belittle me:
You aren’t cut out to be a mom. You should be crafting or baking cookies with the kids. You should be enjoying these precious moments they go by so fast.
How do those moms do it? They craft and take their kids to cute activities in town while looking blissful all the while. Hell, I always find out about community activities the day after and every outing with my
wild spirited two and four year old inevitably result in some type of meltdown (parental meltdown included).
Take them to the park, you say? Nope. No matter how long we stay or how long we swing, Marjorie insists it isn’t long enough. She screams and arches her back while I attempt to buckle her in her carseat. I can feel the stares from onlookers’ judging eyes, knowing it’s a matter of time before someone calls CPS based on Marjorie’s guttural tantrum cry.
I once heard my best friend say, “I love my children…but I don’t like them every day.”
A-freaking-men. Can I get a HELL YES.
Part of me feels guilty for admitting out loud that some days I don’t like my kids. I can’t stand the constant whine or ninja moves that inevitably result in a foot to my face or the dog’s face, poor Lilly. Then guilt comes over me as I think about mothers who would give anything to hold their babies again. Or I remember those friends who would give anything to just have a baby and the chaos that follows. I think about how this was the normalcy I prayed for during times of heartache. And then I remember that this is motherhood and life. I can feel empathy for others while also feeling frustrated (and exhausted) at the chaos of my own life – it doesn’t have to be either/or.
Motherhood isn’t always blissful or filled with gratitude for my tiny humans. It’s messy, annoying and a constant juggling act. Most days I’m terrible at the juggling act. My mind spilling over with work and emails that I forget the nuggets are in the oven (side note: it is literally impossible to burn frozen nuggets and for that I give a massive shout out to the powers that be at the nugget factory.)
Yesterday I found myself fighting tears and saying, “I wasn’t meant to do this. I don’t have what it takes to be a mom.” Then I remembered something I once said in defense of another mom:
“The only requirement to be a good mom is to love your children. Fiercely.”
Parenting is a crazy thing. One minute you want to freeze time so your babies never grow and the next minute you are praying for the day they can regulate their emotions and intellectually understand that chicken is chicken, no matter if it is in the shape of a dinosaur, circle or God forbid an actual chicken breast. You find yourself checking out from whining and bickering only to glance over minutes later and see your babies cuddled up watching a movie. In those moments, life suddenly makes sense again.
On those days when my nerves are gone and all I want to do is cry, I pour my glass of wine and call on my tribe. Where would I be without my tribe of imperfect moms? They remind me every day that I don’t have to have color coordinated kid cubbies and daily activity charts to be a good mom. And if you are the Pinterest wielding-cubby mom then I bow down to you. And if you are a stay-at-home mom, you are like a unicorn to me and I totally bow down.
Thankfully, my own mother is one of my go to tribe members. She laughs and empathizes with my messy tales of motherhood, never judging and rarely giving advice because that’s not what I need. She gives me a good, “Yep. Been there. Survived that…and so will you.” And above all else she reminds me that I am doing a great job and that I AM a good mom – actually a great mom.
Being able to give myself a little extra grace on the not-so-graceful days is my best tool. Calling my tribe to say, “Motherhood is hard” and reminding myself that I’m not alone helps ease the mom-anxiety. The fact that my two munchkins are so irresistibly damn cute helps too.
So yes, it is true. I do not like my kids every day, but, oh my goodness, I love them so much it hurts. No matter how tough the days are I will never stop loving them. My love for my munchkins is bigger than they will ever know. And no matter how many ninja kicks I take to the face or how many boogers end up on my shirt, I would throw myself in front of a hundred buses for them. Every. Damn. Day.
Because isn’t that motherhood? Messy, loud and unconditional love.
So to my fellow imperfect mommas out there, who are counting the seconds until schools reopen (and possibly considering dropping the kids at school tomorrow and pretending like you thought school had started), take a minute and read this parenting manifesto written by Brené Brown, my best friend (okay, so we actually haven’t met yet, but know we’d be besties). It is a perfect reminder of what parenting really is all about: loving unconditionally, worthiness and truly, deeply seeing our precious, snotty, lovable tiny humans.
Deep breaths mommas, take care of yourselves…we are in this together.