The internet has over-said it, but it’s worth saying again: Motherhood is hard. It’s hard in the predictable ways; the pregnancy discomforts, the delivery (doesn’t matter which way), the newborn sleep-deprived stage, the tantrums, the diaper changes, and all the other things that immediately come to mind when someone (usually a mother) mumbles that motherhood is hard.
Motherhood is hard in the unexpected ways. I’ve never known tired until I became a mother. True tired. I *thought* I had been tired before, but I was wrong. I’ve been so tired that my bones yawn. So tired that I’ve showered with socks on. That my eyes burn and twitch. So tired I can quickly and un-regrettably forsake so many of the “my kids will never” mantras I used to hold so dear just to get some peace and quiet.
I didn’t expect the old adage “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t no body happy,” to actually be true. The pressure. The expectation to keep it together. Knowing that if I lose my cool, the whole flipping family loses their minds. If the baby is fussy, life marches on. If one of the kids is having a bad day, we sigh and everyone keeps their distance. If Dad is having a tough day, we give him hugs and some quiet time. If MOM is having a hard day, the planet comes out of orbit. No one can just keep going and let a woman have an occasional bad day. If I feel lousy, I have to suck it up and carry on or live with the consequences (ie tantrums, meltdowns, no dinner, and an irritated husband). It’s hard to be the glue that holds everything together.
I didn’t expect the pressure that would come from giving four other individuals my undivided attention, every hour, every day. I didn’t realize just how mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting it would be. The baby vacuum needs constant supervision in order to avoid having all of our earthly possessions, crumbs, shoes and toilet paper being consumed and/or destroyed. The three-almost-thirteen year old needs help cutting this paper (no, not *that* paper, the other one), and getting another snack, and wants you to hold her and her blanket on your lap to help her feel better. The five year old who wants to know how to spell pirate island shark attack *right now*, help with his LEGO creation that he drew his own instructions for, and could you fill up his bike tire already? Along with the daily requests, there’s the teaching manners and life skills, making food, cleaning up food, chauffeuring, event planning, and all the dang laundry that comes from caring for five people. After all that, there’s still a marriage and husband that needs attention and care; more than just the leftovers he often gets.
I didn’t expect the burnout from being “on” all day and being on-call all night, with many of those nights turning into LONG please-can-it-be-morning-soon nights. The physical exhaustion that comes from breastfeeding a baby every three hours day and night again and again and again for 316 days and counting. Literally feeding a baby part of my physical essence. The mental grind of keeping track of when the baby needs to eat/sleep/poop again, school dates, and social engagements. I didn’t know that I would someday wish so badly for a whole day where I didn’t have to think.
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I didn’t expect to love them this much. That my heart would literally ache when they smile and laugh, give slobbery open-mouth kisses and big hugs. I lie down in bed at night, completely and utterly exhausted, and I smile to myself thinking about all the cute little moments we shared that day. I think of the hilarious things they said (write them down people!). I miss them. I didn’t expect to love them with a kind of love that can’t even be described, you just have to feel it. I didn’t expect to love them so much that I would cry when they have to experience the hard-but-necessary parts of life (getting blood drawn, shots, tonsillectomies, etc.), that I would desperately long to be able to do it all for them if it meant they wouldn’t have to suffer.
I didn’t expect all the perfect moments that would interrupt the tedium. Just when the day starts sliding down the slippery tantrum-riddled slope, someone will bust into song, we’ll share a laugh, I’ll hear the kids hilariously trying to act like adults in their latest game. Our lives aren’t perfect, but they’re filled with small perfect moments that fill me to the brink with joy.
I didn’t expect that it would change me so much. In a good way. Sure, I’m no size 2 runway model and I don’t have a flourishing fabulous career doing something glamorous, but I’ve discovered and developed more talents as a mother than I ever thought possible. I’m always learning something new and proud of myself for overcoming or facing things that I wouldn’t have done unless I was a mother.
Motherhood is hard, and I’m not perfect at it. There’s so much I could do better, and so many times I know I messed up or lost an opportunity. I’m glad kids are loving and innocent and forgiving. They don’t hold grudges or judge me. They love me as I am, and I’m ever so grateful to have them. I love them so much that I’ll wake up and do it all again tomorrow.