I cried three times today. It wasn’t that terribly unusual. Nobody ever tells you that you’ll cry more in your first two years as a mother than you probably cried your entire life up to that point. The tears seem so close some days, that you feel like you’re clutching onto the dry eyes as a lifeline–as if to let those tears flow will will start a torrent that may not stop. Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the only mom who ever feels that way. I doubt it, but since we mothers don’t talk about how HARD simply holding onto our sanity is some days, maybe it is just me. I’ve been a mom for nearly 11 years, and I’m convinced I’ve cried my very own lake by now.
It’s different every day, yet somehow it’s all the same. It’s the constant demands on my attentions, the never-ending messes that need to be cleaned up, the fights that never seem to end unless I step in the middle, and the complete absolute lack of peace unless both older kids are gone and the youngest is sleeping. It’s the constant nagging feeling that it shouldn’t be this hard, and that I must be doing something very wrong, yet the contradictory knowledge that I’m not alone in this feeling and that most parents feel this way. Someone asked me how it was going, and I responded that I was hanging on by my fingernails which I’ve bitten off completely.
Today it was the corn tortilla stuffed down the bathroom sink drain, the concentrated juice spilled and tracked all over the kitchen floor and into my bathroom, the chips dumped on the floor about three feet away from me–before I even figured out what he was doing–the cable receiver box that was reset yet again, the screaming, and the absolute stubborn refusal to nap despite how exhausted he clearly was. I often post about my toddler terrorist incidents, and today someone commented “You must have the patience and fortitude of a saint.” I don’t. I really don’t. On a near-daily basis I flirt with thoughts of running away, I try to hide in my room, and I cling to my sanity like a drowning woman clinging to the last bit of flotsam she can see.
Daily I feel love, pride, astonishment, horror, disgust, anger, irritation, sadness, fear, hope, and peace. In the Fifth Harry Potter book, Ron Weasley responded to a description of one girls feelings by saying “One person can’t feel all that at once–they’d explode.” I understand why he would think that way–sometimes I do feel like I’m going to explode. I have problems understanding how I can honestly love these kids SO much, yet be so mad at them that I think the top of my head will blow off. It’s really confusing that I am so happy to talk to them and hear their voices, yet I can get to the point where I’d give nearly anything for them to just be quiet. I think the contradictions are what really push me to the edge–if it were just one way or the other, I’d be able to figure out how to deal with it, but all the double-edged swords just push me to the very brink of what I think I can handle.
But oddly enough, I do handle it. So do other parents–we just handle it, we do our best and keep going. We keep fighting every day simply to raise these kids of ours, hoping that we’re not causing more problems than a hug can make better. We love them, we do our best by them, even when that best isn’t what they want, and we don’t give up on them even when that awful voice whispers in our heads that life would be so much simpler without them. I know–I’m mentioning things that we’re not supposed to talk about…We’re not supposed to want to give up, or wonder what our lives would be like without them. We’re not supposed to mention that sometimes we think about just getting in the car and driving away from all the chaos. We’re not supposed to say that we cry just because we can’t get them to stop crying, or that punishing them can sometimes hurt us even though we know it’s what’s best for them.
I want to say it all anyway.
Parenting is hard. Kids can build us up and destroy us in a single day. They can take us from laughter to tears, from joy to terror, and from peace to insanity. It can go the other way, too, however–tears to laughter, terror to joy, insanity to peace, and from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the world. People say parenting is rewarding, and it is, but like any reward worth having, it takes a LOT of hard work to achieve it. I’m up for the challenge most days–after all, I’m still here, still trying, and still loving these children more than my heart feels like it has the capacity for. But some days I feel like it’s going to break me. Some days are just “those” kind of days, where every single hour is a struggle to get through, and you just can’t wait for bedtime when you can find some peace again. Some days are the kind of days where the toddler just won’t listen, and the kids won’t stop fighting, and the messes don’t stop coming. Some days all you can do is cry. Mama said there’ll be days like this….