I’ve been thinking a lot about motherhood lately. I’ve been having a tough time, the boys are in a rough spot, and it’s all been pretty emotional. I thought I hit the hardest part of motherhood many times before, but now I know I was wrong.
When you think you’ve got it all figured out, motherhood surprises you.
The other day, wanting to be a “good” mom and missing my boys. I waited for them to get off the bus. I had to get to work, but I figured those 2 extra minutes wouldn’t hurt my commute. And the hugs and kisses would be worth it.
Well, instead of kisses, there were tears. 2 of the 3 boys were crying. There was a ruined school project, a lost object, and a mean kid during gym class. When I tried to comfort the crying ones, the third got so upset, he started throwing stuff out of his backpack. He wanted my attention too.
Instead of a beautiful moment before work, I was now covered in snot, my own mascara running, and stressed out in traffic.
Maybe I’ll just let their dad greet them when they get home from school next time.
Emotional Roller Coaster
I don’t think there is anything or anyone that can prepare you for motherhood. From the moment you see that little pink line, to when they hand you that slimy, beautiful creature, to their first day of school, it is all an emotional rollercoaster.
I don’t think I’ve ever cried so many tears in my whole life since becoming a mom.
And there are so many different types of tears. There are the tears that come with “what the heck did I just sign up for?” and the tears of disbelief when you see your baby for the first time. There are tears of frustration, tears of exhaustion, tears of loneliness, and tears of so much love your heart feels like it will burst. And sadness. And guilt. And hurt. All mixed in with happiness and awe.
Those little beings that you love so very much know just the right words and actions to hit you right in that spot that makes that feeling start creeping up the back of your throat.
The Hardest Part
Each stage of motherhood seems like the hardest part at the time it’s happening. Well, at least it did to me.
Don’t get me wrong, there are so many wonderful things about motherhood. I love my boys with all my heart. Every day, I look at my boys, and I can’t believe that I actually made them.
Then, I remember I’m responsible for them. For teaching them, for guiding them, and for helping them. To ensure their very survival.
It’s freaking hard. Every day there is something that challenges my entire being and makes me question if I should even be a mother. How am I qualified to take care of these people? Who said I was good enough or adult enough?
There isn’t a guide book that has solutions to every problem that motherhood brings. I didn’t even know certain problems existed until I became a mom.
So, which stage is the hardest? Or hardest for me?
Some women have wonderful pregnancies. They are all glowing and happy. It’s a magical experience.
I threw up into my heating vent in my car because I couldn’t get the window down fast enough. I had to take my vitamins at night and immediately lay down or they would come back up. I couldn’t even stand the smell of pretty much anything. Plus, my bladder rebelled, I got cavities, heartburn, and my anxiety went into overdrive.
And this was my first pregnancy, which wasn’t high risk or full of complications.
I figured pregnancy must be the hardest part. Once I felt better, taking care of a baby would be a breeze.
I honestly don’t remember much of the first year with Mr. B. I was so sleep-deprived that I felt crazy. I seriously thought I was having some kind of breakdown.
I went between breastfeeding to trying to get the baby to sleep back to breastfeeding. Most days I never left the house, so you can forget about real clothes, showering, or even brushing my teeth.
And breastfeeding?! That’s pretty darn hard too.
Why don’t they tell you about cracked, bleeding nipples or clogged milk ducts? Or how hard it is to get the right latch? I didn’t even know what that meant.
But, eventually, we did get the hang of it. Then, my body was no longer my own. But, I loved the bond that we had, and I felt like I knew what I was doing when you were eating.
All the rest of the time, I was scared I was doing everything wrong.
Luckily, there were doting grandparents, doctors who didn’t mind calls from a crazy new mom, and a patient husband who took over when he got home from work.
When you finally slept through the night, and I could get some sleep, it would be easier.
The Toddler Stage
My baby still didn’t sleep. Age 1 and even age 2 weren’t the magical numbers for sleeping through the night.
Plus, you were now mobile. Everything had to be baby-proofed, nailed down, and bolted shut. There were baby gates everywhere. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without unlocking the toilet.
I felt like I didn’t know how to entertain you, what was OK to feed you, and still couldn’t get you to sleep without me.
Were you hitting your milestones on time? Was I buying you the right learning toys? Did we go to enough library story hours to stimulate you and make you social?
When you could talk and tell me what you wanted, when you knew better than sticking everything in your mouth, and when I wasn’t so exhausted, it would be easier.
The School Stage
How do we pick the right preschool? Will you have friends? What the heck are playdates?
A whole new set of rules, expectations, and experiences.
How can I be separated from my baby for 2 whole hours? How can I leave him if he’s crying? Why isn’t he crying for me?
Fighting naps, refusing foods, and talking back to mommy. Separation anxiety and can’t get away from mommy fast enough.
Kindergarten happens in a flash.
New worries like riding the bus, bullies, and no friends.
My heart hurts when I see your tears, and I don’t know how to make it better. You’ve become your own person, and you don’t need me all the time, which also hurts.
Now I want time to go in reverse and go back to that baby stage. Maybe it wasn’t so hard after all.
The Easy Part
I don’t think there will ever be an easy stage of motherhood. Maybe, that’s the point. Raising another human into a good, loving person should be hard work.
I’m not saying that I don’t love being a mother or love my kids…because I do. But, I think that when you’re in the middle of some really tough parts, it’s easy to get lost and feel alone. To feel like you’re not doing a good job and feel guilty.
That’s not to say there aren’t easy times. There is fun, there is joy, and there is a ton of happiness. There are celebrations, there are milestones that fill you with pride, and there is all that love.
Plus, you do eventually get a little more sleep. And eventually, I hope we’ll get our living room back and free from toys. Maybe, we’ll even be able to get a nice piece of furniture in 10 years.
So, even if I haven’t hit the hardest part of motherhood, that’s OK. I’d do everything again for my kids.
Motherhood is probably a different journey for us all.
I hope whatever stage you’re in, you know that someone else is out there feeling the same way and you’re not alone.