As I collapse on my sofa at the end of my busy day, I take a deep breath and look at the clock. I know that it must be at least midnight, but I see that it’s only eight. How is it possible that I’m ready to jump into bed at such an early hour? There was a time, seemingly not too long ago, that I wasn’t ready to call it a day until at least eleven o’clock. Then I remember that was a long time ago. It was way back in my early twenties- before I had children.
Glancing down at my threadbare pajamas, I have to admit that my bedtime isn’t the only thing that’s changed. I know I should toss the hideously ancient jammies into the trash, but I feel a sort of kinship with them. Like the garments, I also feel like I’m barely hanging on by a thread some days. I’m exhausted, and it’s not the kind of fatigue that will go away by sleeping. It’s the kind of bone-weariness that I’ve felt since the day I became a mother.
Granted, my schedule is full, and I have every reason to be tired. By the time I’ve home schooled, grocery shopped, cleaned, cooked, and counseled said children, I’m beat. And that’s just the first part of my day. Then comes the dance class chauffeuring, errand running, and the part where I’m supposed to actually work on writing books. Somewhere in between all of this, I also need to find the time and energy to impart oodles of worldly wisdom into to my daughters’ brains so that they grow up to be kind, compassionate, productive citizens. It’s no wonder I often feel like I’m two hundred and fifty-five years old.
When I was younger, besides wanting to be a writer, motherhood was all I ever really dreamed of. I had baby names picked out by the time I was fifteen, and I knew exactly what I was going to do in my hypothetical world of mommy hood. Obviously, I had no idea what being responsible for other humans entailed, and I blame my own mother for that. No, really, I do. She made the role of Mom look so very easy.
To say that my mom had it all together would be putting it mildly. Her house was immaculate; one could quite literally eat off of her floor. She made us three delicious, well-balanced, homemade meals every single day of the year. She rarely seemed frazzled, and she always had a ready answer for everything. She had rules, rules, and more rules, and while I often hated them, I never had to guess what was or wasn’t acceptable. My parents hardly ever argued, and raised voices were a rarity in our house. She helped me with homework, kept me on the straight and narrow, and made me feel safe and secure. She was an impossible act to follow. Like I said, I blame her for making motherhood look easy.
Of course, now I know that I only saw a child’s perspective of it all. I’m sure there were days when she broke down. I’m sure there were times when she questioned everything she was doing. I know there must have been instances when she felt like every move she made was the wrong one. I know these things because I’m a mom now, and I have these thoughts every single day. The truth of the matter is this- motherhood is anything but easy.
Each stage my daughters have gone through has brought with it a laundry list of new challenges. When they were newborns, it was sleep-deprivation and eating cold meals. Toddlerhood brought along a whole new level of exhaustion, and I was convinced I would never be allowed to sit down again. The early school years saw different approaches to learning, helping each girl develop her talents, and figuring out how to balance a hectic life. The teenage era has ushered in a vastly different set of worries, with driving, safety, social media, navigating the waters of growing up, learning how to let go, and most recently, registering my oldest for college at just sixteen years old.
So, to all of you hard-working Mamas out there who feel as if you’re barely hanging on, I see you. I am you. Most days, I feel like I’m doing it all wrong. I rarely feel like I have the right answers, and I constantly question my ability to raise highly-functioning human beings. I think in the end, all we can do is love them, be there for them, listen to them, and do our best to guide them. I just hope someday, years from now, when my daughters have their own children, maybe they’ll tell me I made it look easy. Then I’ll laugh, hug them, probably cry a little, and be there to teach them the realities of motherhood.