Most All of my blog posts have a point. A story to tell. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious, but always with the intent to either help or inspire, or perhaps simply to cheer. Today, I’m stepping outside of those boundaries to instead, share my heart. Not because I want sympathy or pity, or because I’m overly sad, but simply because I feel 100% overwhelmed and the only way I can process my way out of it is to write my way through it.
So here goes.
I’m honestly, from the bottom of my heart, enjoying my three kids. It’s brought a whole new level of craziness to our house, but it’s also required (and therefore, taught) me to chill out more than I was previously able.
I just feel like I’m failing at everything.
But especially motherhood.
Last week I had to take Beatrice to the doctor, and our appointment (of course) happened to fall on a day where Theo refused to listen/cooperate and Oliver cried/screamed over everything. Ev-er-y-thing.
Waiting in the lobby with Bea who was crying, with Theo who wouldn’t keep his clothes on, with Oliver who kept trying to run out of the door (last time we were there he got a shot), and with a diaper bag, a baby carrier, my purse, and all our coats in tow, I felt physically overwhelmed and emotionally frazzled. (Bea continues to be a fussy baby and only sleeps for short periods of time. I do not do well on anything less than 8 hours. I’ve tried, but hey those were the cards I was dealt.)
As I corralled our little circus into the tiny exam room, Theo and Oliver started full on fist fighting and Bea wailed her tiny little head off. The doctor came in and the boys immediately felt the need to surround him: Theo trying to get at the stethoscope around his neck and Oliver (for some, inexplicable reason) crawled under his feet.
I was acutely aware of how annoyed he was trying not to be with my kids.
Bea’s crying was reaching glass shattering pitches and I was frantically trying to calm her. My doctor, trying to be helpful I presume, said, “This is good for me to see.”
“Oh good. I’m so glad this is working for you,” I thought.
Of course my next thoughts were “Gosh, don’t be such a jerk, Rebekah.” And then, “Keep it together, girl!”
Our doctor’s assessment of the situation was the same as it was for Theo and the same it was for Oliver: colic. He suggested the same things for Bea as he did for the boys. Cut out dairy! Cut out green veggies! Don’t eat onions! Or garlic!
And with the ever helpful, make me want to dig my eyeballs out with a spoon comment : “This isn’t forever!”
Perfect. Thank you so much. Because as us moms know, something not lasting forever makes it sooo much more bearable right now, right?
So I just meekly replied, “But I’m a vegetarian,” and then tried not to cry until he left. Because he doesn’t know that I didn’t get a chance to eat that morning becauseI was too busy trying to make the appointment that day. And he doesn’t know that I’m looking at one to two more hours until I can eat because I have to get the boys fed and Theo off to preschool and then it will be time to feed Bea and get her changed and down for a nap and then, then I can eat. And he doesn’t know that the thought of a vegan diet without green vegetables or onions or garlic just sounds so sad and pathetic I can’t even handle it.
And he doesn’t know how asking me to make one more physical sacrifice just feels like the final straw. Because motherhood has already required so much. Difficult pregnancies. Fussy babies. Babies that won’t eat, won’t sleep. Toddlers that won’t eat, won’t sleep. A busy husband and all the responsibilities I’m required to handle on my own. And good grief, why can’t I just have ONE baby that will cuddle in my arms?
And I am just. so. tired.
I know that I’m not the only one who struggles. Goodness, this is not my “woe is me, my life is sooo hard” manifesto. This is just me being real, raw. I feel completely in over my head. I feel like things fall apart on a daily basis and there is nothing I can do to fix it. I feel like everyone is fighting, crying, hungry, tired, and hurt all at once.
Motherhood has surprised me in a million different wonderful ways. But one thing I wasn’t prepared for was just how bad of a job I would constantly feel like I’m doing. Motherhood doesn’t exactly fit into a neat little box where you can assess your strengths and weaknesses and amplify the strengths and work on the weaknesses. Just as you get the handle of one thing, another, new challenge pops up.
It’s not impossible, but it is impossible, to master. That is a tough pill to swallow, especially for type-A personalities like me. I feel like I’m juggling bowls of water. Sure, the bowls are staying in the air, but I’m getting absolutely drenched in the process.
This weekend, Theo got into something he shouldn’t and subsequently spent some time in the ER. I can honestly say that I wasn’t, for even a second, scared. I was, however, hurting for my boy. The process he had to go through was anything but pleasant, and I physically ached to see him in that condition.
It was kind of the icing on my failure-cake. Here he was, completely outside of my reach. I couldn’t fix the situation. I couldn’t prevent it. It simply was, what it was.
These days are hard. They are so incredibly exhausting. And people have so much stupid advice for mothers. I mean, seriously.
I don’t want your stupid platitudes. I want a hug.
So if you see a young mom today, know that no matter how good things are now, raising small kids still isn’t easy. It’s still exhausting and frustrating and completely bewildering. Remember that we don’t need a story of how you did things, or some stupid piece of advice, because all of that only compounds our feelings of inadequacy and failure.
What we do need, are lots of hugs, lots of grace, and lots of kindness.
We need the hugs that our toddlers withhold; the grace that we often fail to offer ourselves; the kindness that too often other mothers replace with judgement.
Raising little ones is a wild and bumpy ride. It truly is an adventure of incredible highs, and lows that take us to the depths of despair. It’s not something we can ever perfect, or even “figure out.” It’s a process. A process of helping our little ones become them, as we continue to figure out how to become “ME” in addition to “MOM.”
Arianna Huffington said that failure isn’t the opposite of success, it’s part of success. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately in regards to motherhood because I feel like I fail so much. I’m sure most moms do.
But then I was thinking about how you only fail at things you are trying. And gosh, am I trying. I’m really giving it my all. So maybe, just maybe, my failing a million times a day is because I’m trying in two million different, little ways.
Maybe all my failures as a mother are more indicative of my heart, and less an indictment of my abilities.
Maybe the only way not to fail, is not to try.
If that’s the case, then here’s to trying…and failing. Surely it is the mark that we are on the path to success…or insanity. Only time will tell.
Thanks for listening. *Virtual hugs to all you mommas out there.*
PS I love our doctor, I really do. All frustration in this story was aimed at him, not caused by him. I just felt the need to clear that up because, although you won’t know who he is, he really is a great guy. Ok. Thanks. Bye.