There are days when surviving the act of motherhood for five more minutes seems a herculean feat…. when exhaustion, and stress, and overwhelmedness crowd out the joy of it all and you go into mommy-robot mode defending your mental numbness in one breath and condemning yourself in the next.
There are days when you can’t take another act of defiance. Another little rebellion. You can’t do another time out. You can’t walk her back to her bed that one last time after she got out of it for the 20th time in a row. You just can’t do it. You can’t patiently explain the importance of having kind hands and feet, or deal with the amazing feat of strength that a small, but wiry, suddenly stiff toddler can achieve when you try to strap her into her car-seat. You just can’t do it anymore.
But you have to.
There are days when it takes every ounce of your fortitude to force your positive attention on your child, smile brightly, come up with ways to play… When walking back to your child’s room and digging out the kitchen toys, or the dolly stuff, or the fish puzzle just seems so incredibly mundane that you don’t even think you can force your hands to reach out and do the tasks. Silly dancing, silly singing? Forget about it. You just can’t muster that much perkiness. You just don’t want to.
But you do.
There are days where the panic rises within you as you wonder if you’re doing it wrong. As you look at the ball of behavior in front of you and wish someone would just tell you how to fix it. Days when you even think that you might not even slap someone who came and told you how you were screwing up if their ways would only just work. Days when you feel like you are parenting in a bubble of isolation and wonder if everyone else feels this vulnerable and uncertain all the time about the methods of discipline that they try desperately to enforce. Days that you just want to go ask the next fellow-parent that you see if they feel this way too and how they survive, but don’t for fear that they will judge you as harshly as you are judging yourself.
There are days when you aren’t sure you can haul both the 28 lb. toddler and the weight of your growing baby in your belly even one step further as you waddle out to a vehicle, into the house, into a store, out of a restaurant–almost always with something slung over your shoulder or resting in the crook of your elbow as well. Days when you just don’t think you have the oomph or the strength and certainly not the energy as you tackle the world in your over-tired, always-achy, and rarely ‘typically glowing’ pregnant body.
There are days when you feel that if you can’t catch a break… If you don’t have an hour of rest and quiet and strictly adult thinking, you’ll never make it another minute. Days when you swear that if tonight isn’t the night for a good night of sleep, you’ll never function right again. Days when exhaustion is palpable. It is a living, breathing entity eating away at your strength from the inside out, clawing at your always-sagging eye-lids.
There are those days. Days like today.
But even on days like today there is that moment when you are sitting away from your child–in a meeting, or at church, or even out on the couch while they nap…. and within you rises an urge to run and scoop up your child and just be near them because the 30 minutes you’ve been without them seems too long.
Even on these days there are the giggles that your child pulls out of you–exhausted, stressed out you–real giggles elicited by a funny face, or a silly antic, or a ‘tale’ told in that adorable two-year old way.
Even on these days there are those moments where you smile in pride and delight at a new word learned, a new concept grasped, a new skill mastered…. And you can’t believe how proud you are at the amazing little person your child is becoming.
Even on these days there are the snuggles that make you go limp and lean in and breathe in the smell of that dear little person, fearing that in the next instant they will be gone.
Even on these days there is the fierce mama-bear lurking in the shadows ready to take on any foe that might dare threaten your baby.
Even on these days there is that part of you that catches when you see your child curled up asleep and you can’t believe that there was ever even an angel as good and beautiful and pure as this little being.
There are those moments, even on days like today.