It’s a count-the-hours-until-bedtime kind of a day.
You felt the frustration build and build until it gushed
over. Maybe it was the moment your son threw his yogurt on the floor. Or when
you finally thought you’d convinced your daughter to get dressed and she declared
today National No Pants Day. Or when he asked you for the 11th time to please find the ninja costume he was just wearing three minutes ago.
it was cumulative—the exhaustion of battling small, seemingly insane people
over mundane tasks over and over again.
Maybe you felt so bored you could barely stand it. And then
you instantly felt guilty for being bored, because you wanted to be a mother, dammit.
And yet the space between what you imagined parenting would be and the reality
of it is vast. You imagined cuddles and giggles and the thick, wafting mystery
of mother-love, but you never could’ve imagined the way that small people could drive
you to the brink of lunacy on a regular Tuesday.
Maybe I'm not cut out for this, but maybe I'm cut out for them.
You never imagined the nuanced, messy storms of human
emotions—both yours and your kids—and the way that tiny, continuous
frustrations can mount into something huge,
fiery and volcanic when piled on top of each other.
Maybe it’s because you just want one damned moment to yourself,
and your kids are hell-bent against it. (They can smell your need for a break
like a dog smells fear, and it makes them rabid for your company.)
You cried or you yelled or you cursed. Or maybe you clamped
it all inside of you until you felt you’d combust, and a singular, ugly thought
rolled through your head:
Maybe I’m just not cut
out to be a mother.
This is not the truth.
The truth is that parenting is like the rest of life. There
are highlights, those moments when you’re so ballooned with love that you feel
dizzy and drunk. And there are the lowest of lows, like election years, explosive diarrhea and death. For just a
moment, you fantasize that a benevolent troupe of aliens could abduct your
children, or at least take them to the playground for a couple of hours while
you take a nap.
And the truth is that nobody is cut out for a day like today. Nobody is wired
to field whining and shrieking and pants refusals and dozens of questions that don't even make sense.
And the rest of the truth is that just when you are drained,
just when you are about to go AWOL, something will shift. It might be a big
thing, like your daughter wrapping her soft arms around your neck and telling
you, “You’re the best mama in the world.” But it also might be that for just a heartbeat,
you feel that thick pulse of connection that tethers you to your son. Or you take in the
sweep of his ridiculously long, thick eyelashes. Or your daughter lets out the
longest, loudest fart you’ve ever heard (because she’s still not wearing pants)
and you can’t help but laugh.
And you think, yeah, maybe
I’m not cut out for this, but maybe I’m cut out for them.
And you make promises. That tomorrow will be a better day. That
you’ll ask for help even though it’s hard. That you’ll go to bed early tonight.
That you’ll text a friend and tell her about the terrible, no good, shit smear
of a day you’re having, and it’ll sound so ridiculous that you catch yourself
smiling. And she will text you back and tell you about the douchebaggery her
son put her through the other day, and you’ll realize that even when you feel
so alone, you’re not alone at all.
You remember those early weeks when you
were up feeding your baby at 3 a.m., and you were so tired you thought you might
die, but then you suddenly had an image of all the other women up feeding their
babies, spread all across the world and throughout time. It gave you strength.
And you remember that
you are connected by this shining thread of motherhood, by the quiet
desperation and the immense love, by the brutal exhaustion and bruising self-doubt. You are connected to
all of us, who sometimes wonder maybe I’m
just not cut out for this parenting thing but do it anyway.