Do other moms get sad the way I do? Do you feel numb, and like you are going through the motions? When all the things you do get overlooked and are unappreciated, and you feel caught in this web of simple existence? I never know if it’s the grief or just simply being a mom. Some days are just so hard.
I love them. I kiss them and hold them. But the fighting is exhausting. Trying to make them mind is exhausting. Being and feeling heard is non-existent. Some days, I’m just stuck on this gerbil wheel, and I don’t know what to do. Or I think that everyone else must be doing it better than me. Am I the only one out there that feels this way? That struggles with this all day, and then after they fall asleep, crawls into bed with them and kisses their sweaty brow and finds their hands that aren’t so tiny anymore and tries to hold on? Hold on to all that they are and pray with all your might that they know how so dearly loved they are? In the mess of it all, will they find the good memories and good moments and remember that more than all of the million times you feel that you failed them? Where you left them lacking, where you could have been so much more? Are there any other mothers out there that want to pull their hair out and scream? But deep down knows, based on the last time they had a minor breakdown, that it won’t get you anywhere? No? Is it just me?
I’ve had this exact conversation on the phone with my mother. Tears falling, sitting in a mess of things that need to be done around me—not wanting to do anything but run away and eat one of my mom’s chocolate chip-less cookies. Take a nap and sit by the fireplace next to her, reading magazines. She would tell me, “Things always get better.” She would say to me, “There will be days like this.” I have memories of her telling us when we were little, in an entirely exasperated voice, that she “just feels like our maid.” I never really got it until now.
This is an under-appreciated job that we do. Sometimes this job can take everything out of me. Sometimes it makes me want to take to the wilderness and wonder if life would be easier if we all lived like wild banshees. Wild and free with no expectations or dishes or laundry. Where I can say yes to my daughter running around in only her underwear, sometimes, that sounds good.
But, hear me now, when I say, I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I guess that means we are doing something right. If they think it’s just normal for their clothes always to be washed, three meals to find them every day, the places they had played to now be clean. They’re thinking about their next adventure. It’s typical for me to know where their stuffed puppy is and to be able to find their favorite missing shoe when we are already running ten minutes late. It’s understood that they can always come to me in the middle of the night. They know I will bring them a drink for the third time and one small snack, and there will always be forehead kisses. Their lunchbox will always be filled and little notes of encouragement will be included. There isn’t a second thought to how everything falls together and doesn’t fall apart. They don’t even know there could be a “falling apart.”
If they don’t know that, then maybe we are doing something right. We are building a safe place to grow in. A place where adventure can happen and childhood sparkles. Where their biggest worry is if they both get the same amount of dessert, and both have to eat their vegetables and why they have to put their clothes on. Where love and grace fall on them, as they continue to learn and grow into the little people. We pray that we can help them become what they will become, despite our short-comings. Even if in the background, we feel like we are so far behind. And we look away from the pile of dishes that should have been put in the dishwasher, so we don’t lose our freaking mind on them before they head off to school. Grace and love. And we don’t say all the things that run through our minds. That’s what childhoods are made of.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There is an essential lesson in teaching gratitude and appreciation and compassion and how everyone plays a part in a bigger picture. That will come as they grow, as their little hands and hearts get bigger. And when we finally find the energy. That voice of exasperation comes in when we begin to sound like our own mothers. The words fall out like we have heard them said to us so many times before. When our sweet, little children resist with every ounce of their little beings. And then you understand why there are straight jackets and frozen snickers in the world. But still, grace and love fall down. The teaching gets taught. The reminding of every single little thing they are supposed to do continues. Going through the motions continues. Sneaking peeks at them and kissing their little foreheads while they sleep continues. Because that’s what a mother does, she creates childhood. All the while, feeling like she’s losing her sanity.
So, when you have days like this, when your momma heart gets weary, and you look around and see all the things that still need to be done… listen to what my momma always tells me, “Choose one. Get one thing done and then go to bed. Rest. Pray over their little stubborn hearts, and pray for your own. And then put it aside. Things always seem better in the morning with a new sunrise and a day full of possibilities. Then do one more thing. Hug and kiss your babies, and keep going through the motions. It will always get better.”
And you know what? She knows. Moms are good like that.
Before you know it, the day will feel more manageable, and you will be you again. The understanding that maybe you are doing some things right will find you. Their sweet, “I love you, Mom,” and sticky kisses will be all the appreciation you need. Grace and love are refueling your weary soul. As you find yourself having a dance session with the dogs in the kitchen, giggles filling the air.