Before becoming a mother, I would fantasize and dream about having my own children. I would imagine them sweet, calm, and clean; even in my dreams, I would be holding and kissing them. I would see us playing outside, laughing and snuggled under a canopy of stars, whispering our dreams and secrets to one another. In those fantasies of Motherhood I was calm and effervescent, managing my children with ease and grace--everything seemed like a magical whirlwind of love and joy.
As magical as Motherhood is, and can be, this is not the real reality. While there are moments of love and laughter, running through fields of grass with smiles as big as the sky on their faces, that is not what our life is like all the time.
As much as I like to think of myself as an awesome, put together Mother the reality is I struggle....a lot. I've read the books, researched the articles, and listened to the podcasts--but NOTHING prepared me for what it's really like. You spend almost 10 months imagining this baby, and then the day happens where you go into labor and you spend so much energy and love getting that baby Earthside. They come out, and they look at you and that's it; your life is changed forever. You will never be the same. You are now responsible for keeping this child ALIVE, and for teaching them how to navigate through this world.
There are times where I feel like I'm making it all up; at the end of the day when they are asleep in their beds I think, "we did it! We survived another day!" There are moments when both my kids are screaming or crying, when I have no idea what to do or how to help them other than try to keep myself calm. Some days I succeed and others end with me on the floor, feeling like a failure, while they are crying and upset. There are times where the flight-or-flight sense desire to run away can become so great and so strong, and I HATE myself in those moments for feeling resentful towards my children. I remind myself that they are little kids and they are still learning. I often feel frustrated with myself, wondering why I get angry and upset. Why do I have to struggle? Why does it seem like it's easier for all the other Mom's out there in their beautiful clothes, perfect make up and clean homes?
Then I remember, their life is not perfect either. Those Mothers also have days when their children are screaming, and kicking, and flailing, and acting like a crazy person. Their house will get messy, their dishes will pile up, and they will struggle too. The reality is that we are all struggling, and we are doing the best we can. Often, as women and as Mothers, we try to "put on a show" of what our lives should be...we need to stop doing that, and start getting real with one another. I think if we were more honest about how hard it can be to parent so many Mothers would stop feeling like failures.
I have to remind myself that this is just a season in my life, when I wake up and the dishes are piled up, and the laundry is falling out of all the baskets, and the kids are demanding food, but "not on that plate, on my other plate!" "Not the Woody cup, the Spiderman one!" When I go to change my littles diaper and now, even after 2 years of this daily routine, he is screaming so loud I think it probably sounds like I'm torturing him and am forced to sit on him to get the job done; I remind myself that before I know it, my children will be grown up, out of the house, and all the noise and screaming will come to and end, and I will be left with the memories of what their childhood once was. Will I remember the piles of laundry or the sleepless night? Will I remember how many days in a row I cried from sheer exhaustion? Or will I remember the hugs and kisses and the "hold me tight"?
I'm not sure what the future holds but I do know that while today it feels hard that it's still ok. It's supposed to be hard. I may not be the perfect Mother, I may not even come close to the idea I once had in my head of the kind of Mother I would be, but I am EXACTLY the Mother my boys need and they are exactly the children I need as well. As much as I teach them, they will teach me. It's a huge responsibility to be a parent. We are raising our future here. It's a heavy load to carry, but we've got this. We can handle it. We are in this together, so let us be kinder to one another, help each other out, and to remember that we all have our struggles.
I believe that in all aspects of life communication is key. I believe that remaining silent about the daily struggles we have as parents only burdens each of us more. Being open and honest about not only our victories but also our griefs will create a more human connection between each of us and be a reminder that we should not put so much pressure on ourselves or our children; the focus shouldn't be about right vs. wrong, perfect vs. imperfect, happy vs. unhappy. The focus should be on truth and honesty.
The truth is life can be hard, there are good days and bad and that is okay and NORMAL. We all are human and imperfect. We need to lift one another up and support each other in this daily crusade that is Parenthood.