I didn’t want to do this. I really, truly didn’t.
But as Mother’s Day approaches, I feel obligated to share a few perspectives on motherhood, as well as some of my very best dance moves.
Just in case it helps one mother make sense of her experience.
Because what I’m about to say (and show you) is probably going to make many more mothers feel confused. Maybe even a bit uncomfortable.
And that’s okay, because I would prefer mothers feel confused and uncomfortable rather than, say, guilty or ashamed (the two emotions most commonly associated with motherhood).
So this post comes with a Parental Advisory for it’s explicit truths, the first of which is this photo of me. Yes, that’s me. I’m on Day 2 of my daughter’s recovery from ankle surgery. The ankle she broke when her older brother/babysitter double-bounced her on the trampoline.
I look as bad as I felt. Which is really bad.
My daugher? Oh, don’t worry. She’s doing great. Much better than her mother, actually. Here’s a picture of her.And now for the inappropriate musings.
I think motherhood is a lot like climbing Everest, losing your legs to frostbite and wondering,
“That was an amazing experience, but would I do it all again?”
As I deliberate upon this question, I realize that it is possible to appreciate and critique something. To see beauty while noting its imperfections. To understand that something is good but also has a very dark side.
For example, let’s take Diet Coke.
I love Diet Coke. I’ve been known to drink so much Diet Coke that I shiver with cold. One of the reasons I have a Costco subscription is because I can buy Diet Coke in bulk.
I also know Diet Coke is probably going to give me cancer. Like some newfangled, mysterious cancer that doesn’t exist yet.
Something like ear cancer.
And yet I am still able to enjoy my delicious, bubbly, acidic Diet Coke even though it may very well kill me.
Now I’m not equating motherhood to death by ear cancer. As any mother will tell you, motherhood may make you want to die, but it will not let you.
My point about Diet Coke is simply to reinforce what I said earlier.
It is possible to appreciate and critique something. To see beauty while noting its imperfections. To understand that something is good but also has a very dark side.
For me, that something is motherhood. Because it is hard. Like gut-wrenching, soul-killing hard.
And no one is talking about it in any real way that matters.
I didn’t lose my temper until I had kids. I didn’t drink wine every night until I had kids. I didn’t think I was a horrible person until I had kids.
I’ve done stuff that never shows up in Parents Magazine or the Love and Logic book or the “How To Keep From Killing Your Child” website that unfortunately doesn’t exist.
I’ve spent time fantasizing about very bad things. Like suggesting they swim the length of the pool without swimmies or play hopscotch in the street or hitchhike home from school.
(My Top 3 Mothering Fears are child drowning, child getting hit by a car, and child being kidnapped. And yet I fantasize about them sometimes.)
Would I climb Everest again? I’m not always sure.
But I’m already up here on top of Everest with no legs. And I’m not sure if I can climb back down, so I wonder if it was worth it.
Especially in the grocery store checkout line when they spill their brrrberry slushy in my purse while reaching for 20 packages of Skittles.
Especially when they fight at the dinner table after I’ve taken the time to actually home-cook a meal, which is a very special occasion that should be treated very specially.
Especially when they say they hate me.
There is a space that exists in the world of motherhood. A space that is just a little left of center, where we feel all the love our hearts could possibly hold, where we would not hesitate to lay down on railroad tracks for our children.
And yet in that same space, there live emotions like anger and resentment because let’s be honest, who really wants to be run over by a train?
I want to be clear. I love being a mom. I really, truly do. And I am a pretty good mom on most days.
But I’m not a Perfect Mom. And I’ve finally stopped trying.
If you can identify with anything I’ve written in this post, I have some good and bad news for you. The bad news is that you aren’t a Perfect Mom, either.
The good news?
You’re a Brave Mom, and I love you.
PS – In case you haven’t seen this on my Facebook page, I invite you to watch a video of me performing an impromptu dance routine for my daughter. She’s sitting on the toilet, feeling sad because her ankle is broken. I’m trying to cheer her up by making a total fool of myself. Because that’s what Brave Moms do.
PPS – If you know another Brave Mom, share this post with her. Then go get a drink together because you probably need it.