I remember when my kids were very little, and I was barely hanging on to my sanity. One day a good friend said to me, “It will get easier, but more complicated.” At the time, I didn't understand what she meant. How could anything be more complicated than two kids in diapers? Each waking up at different times of the night, one needing her food pureed, the other a picky toddler.
But, now that my kids are elementary school-aged, I get what she was saying. Fundamentally, this parenting gig is a whole lot easier now. They both sleep through the night, dress themselves, make their beds, eat what we eat, and take care of their bathroom business on their own. But, boy is it more complicated. The friendship dynamics, the homework, having to all be at different activities at the same time. And don't forget the big questions: “Where do babies come from?” “Who is God?” “Why do people kill each other?” Sometimes I daydream about the days when all I had to worry about was where we would walk our strollers and which diapers to buy. It seems trite to say this now, but reading all of your stories reminds me how we all experience similar things, complicated or not, and because of that we can all relate to each other at least in some way.
For instance, how you got your middle school boys to open up and talk, and how lucky you felt to be a mother after struggling with infertility. A divorced dad opened up about how hard it was not to be with his daughter on her 12th birthday, and you wondered how all of the sudden you became an adult with real responsibilities.
You were totally honest about not hiding behind your flaws, how you brought your sexy back, and why porn is so important to moms. You wrote about how we're all mothering in the space between—between before and after kids. You dreamt of revelaing the secret of motherhood at a baby shower.
A dad wrote about the day everything shifted when his wife told him she was pregnant again, and a mom eloquently wrote about her recovery from post-partum depression. A daughter proudly expressed herself as half-girl, half-boy, while another daughter wrote about how just one word from her mother was so incredibly painful.
You shared your reflections on raising adopted kids, the idealism you had in bringing your toddler out for a night at the movies with your husband, and what it's like to raise a black boy in America, and all the things moms carry. Sometimes the truth was elusive, as is the intention of lying.
You wrote about how hard it is to give up control on picture day, how you can't live without walls, or your favorite podcasts. One mom told a story about the moment her son realized he was a survivor.
A mom wrote a letter to her children explaining her divorce, and another wrote one to her Palestinian-American friend. One mom wrote about how she misses the way her children needed her when they were younger. Some didn't mind if they were turning into their mother, and others shared the ways they teach their kids about spirituality.
One mom found an escape in books, another found her own definition of normalacy. We published one of our first pieces of fiction told through the eyes of a son, and one mom admitted we may all have one bad thing we do. You wrote about how the thread of connection was slowly unwinding.
The holidays brought stories about what being Jewish means to one family, the search for the perfect Santa photo, how reaching into the toilet was not what you expected to happen at a holiday party, and that laughing in Church is not acceptable. You wrote about the memories of a loved one, and the balance of being both mom and grandma. About how life feels complicated when your child has an invisble illness, and you remembered that moment when everything changed. You expressed your familial loathing, and admitted you felt like a failure as a parent. And you learned how important it is to actually like your partner when you have a new baby!
Even though all of these stories you told are intrinsically different and come from varied situations, they all share a common thread. Motherhood is thousands of disparate things all at once, but when you mash them all together you always seem to get the same thing. And boy, is it COMPLICATED…
Our new print magazine came out recently and the theme was IT'S COMPLICATED. We loved it so much that we dedicated the entire month of December to the same theme. Click here to purchase a copy.