Mother’s Day is rounding the bend and I find myself reflecting upon not only my job as a mother but how my own mom has influenced my parenting. For those of us with a pulse, we can all agree motherhood wasn’t exactly what we had expected. For me, my bundle of joy came with a generous side of anxiety and fear, which was nice. Then truly experiencing things like sleep deprivation and a shift in your relationship with your spouse, also throw a nice fireball into the mix. All of this new love and new fear is just the beginning.
I’m not sure if it’s because my mother had six children, but I never really felt this anxiety from her that myself and other moms talk about these days. I imagine having six kids is like herding cats. It was chaotic to say the least but even in the chaos, she did not flip her shit like I do with my one and only. How? Maybe with six kids you learn a new level of disassociation. I’m not sure. I can’t ask her because she’s dead.
Her death brings me to reflect upon how she has influenced me as a mother myself. And while reflecting, I always come back to the same stump. Why didn’t my mother ever tell me the nitty gritty about motherhood? She never mentioned these things. Why didn’t she freak out and shake my shoulders while screaming that she hadn’t had a peaceful trip to the bathroom in over a decade? I suppose she was a woman of control, she probably didn’t want to scare us all to death. Here are more things my late and loved mother never told me about motherhood.
At every turn there is a predator or an accident waiting to happen. There’s SIDS and red food coloring. Your child will go through separation anxiety (I was that kid) and make you feel like you are shredding their hearts every time you have to leave them. Then they will grow and no longer think you are a magical super human who can do no wrong. They will start to roll their eyes at you and ask you for their own phone. Then navigating friendships and dating and rejection and (gulp) sex. She never turned to me and went, “THIS MOTHERHOOD THING IS KILLING ME BECAUSE IT’S NOTHING BUT STRESS”. I wish she had. I might not have understood it and I probably would have asked her to stop being so dramatic but I still wish she had.
Can you imagine having six children with the stomach flu? How about cleaning up after six disgusting children under the age of ten? I won’t fail to mention we also had animals. Yup. Three dogs and at one point we had twenty something cats in our barn, where my sister’s horses and roosters (who has roosters?) lived. The laundry, the meals, the dishes. I wonder about the things she would find under beds or in closets. I mean, beside’s my sister’s pot plants, what other things.
It’s So Freaking Loud
I have one child. One child who screams when she speaks. I have had her hearing tested various times because she never answers me and the high decibel that she carries on normal conversation with is alarming. Let’s throw five more kids on top, a grand piano, some wind instruments, a TV, and lastly, my brother’s drum set. I’m going to date myself here but remember on The Brady Bunch when the kids would just be lounging around after school, doing their homework quietly? God, what a farce. They should have turned on every electronic and appliance in the house, had Greg jam on his guitar while the rest of them shouted to each other over all of the noise. That my friends, was my house.
When your tiny human arrives on Earth, it may not sleep for long stretches at a time. Some are suspected to be aliens because they don’t sleep at all. On top of that, some end up having this magical mystery called “Colic”. So your non-slumbering tub of love is also screaming bloody murder anytime between 3pm-12am. That horrendous period does pass, thankfully or the human race would cease to exist. But then you’ve fully adapted to “mother sleep”. I’ve heard this actually never goes away. You sleep lightly in case your child needs you. Then you sleep lightly because your teenager is out and you’re worried. Then you sleep lightly because you’ve got an empty nest and you worry about your child’s wellbeing. It’s never-ending.
So, screw sleep, it ain’t happening so why not fill your time with activities and possibly a job! Wake up after not sleeping, get yourself and everyone ready. Make breakfast, pack lunches, check school bags, emails and texts to make sure it isn’t picture day. Crap, it’s picture day. Change kids, brush hair. Get everyone in the car and to school on time. Fight traffic to work. Work. Leave work to go get your kids from school, take children to play date or some class across town. Organize logistics via text about the rest of the week. Go home, say FML over and over again until you figure out what to cook or order for dinner. Bathe your kids or make sure they bathe themselves. Be asked 700 questions, try to answer all of them. Go to bed to sleep lightly, wake and repeat. It’s exhausting.
No, my sweet mother did not warn me of the flip side of motherhood. She used to say things like, “You’ll understand when you have your own children”. Haha, she was right. Being a mother is a gift, a gift that comes with some strings attached. I don’t mind though, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Ok, some things I would change but I think you get my point. Happy Mother’s Day to all of your brave women out there!