The Complications of Motherhood

Kim Simon essays

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There are goldfish crackers ground into your carpet. There is a small streak of peanut butter on the side of your sofa that matches the height of a toddler who just earned the right to walk around while he eats his snack. Who am I kidding? He won't sit in the high chair anymore, and the only way you can convince him to eat is to let him walk around with a smashed sandwich in his hand. There are exactly 247 Legos scattered across your 5-year-old's bedroom, none of which are the exact ones he is looking for when he's yelling through the bathroom door that “the little blue piece is GONE Mom!” There is a curling iron on the floor of your bathroom. It hasn't been used in approximately 39 weeks. That's not true, your 3-year-old used it “to shoot water at bad guys!” just this morning.

There are lacy underthings in your nightstand drawer. You refuse to pack them away because someday, somehow, you will feel like sliding into them again when you have an uninterrupted, blissful minute with your partner. There is a cold cup of coffee in your hand. There is a smiley face on a post-it note attached to your 1st graders lunchbox. She's struggling with reading, but she can read the love in that smiley face. There was yelling this morning. Rushing. Muttering under your breath. There was spilled cereal and a bus that almost drove away without her. There were untied shoes and unspoken worries and an underdressed baby tucked underneath your arm as you rushed and brushed and washed.

You don't have to say it. I know.

I know that tiny breaths fall like whispers from the baby monitor as your alarm goes off every morning. I know that for just a few moments, you are alone in your bed because the world has not started turning yet. I know that you listen, closely, for the noises that mark the yawning stretch that your heart does as each day begins. The first steps of the complicated dance between loving deeply, worrying helplessly, and moving forward anything but gracefully. Motherhood fills you to the brim. You have never been so full. So full of love, of hope, of gratitude. So full of fear, of guilt, of frustration. You wonder if it is possible to have too much of something wonderful. On the days that your carefully filled bucket of kindness, patience, and strength overflows, it feels like you are drowning. Too much. You are filled with too much.

It's complicated, striking the balance between you and them. It's complicated, because they are you. Your children began from you. They are flesh of your flesh. They were born from the deepest desires of your heart. They were prayed for, fought for, cried over. They lift you and embrace you and connect you to the fragile branches of family that you never thought you'd grow. And yet. They are loud and they are messy and they are questioning and they are fast. They are constant. Constantly needing and wanting and waiting and pleading. Constantly touching and smiling and laughing and forgiving. They are you, and they need you, and they are the best parts of you. The best parts of you who can bring out the worst parts of you.

You don't have to say it. I know.

Your motherhood is complicated. Mine is too.

And for all of the mess and all of the giving and all of the tucking in and drinks of water and kisses on cheeks and tiny hands to hold, there is something else that anchors you, solidly, to this life. It's still there, beneath the wet, messy ponytail that was all you had time for this morning. Underneath the stretchy black pants that you have worn for too many days. You exist. The old you and the new, messier, busier, more in love you. You exist. Still.

You don't have to say it. I know.

I see you. The complicated dance between the woman who throws her head back to laugh at a dinner party and the woman who throws poopy diapers in an overflowing trashcan. I know you remember the dance steps. The ones that waltz you around a conference room on trendy high heels. The ones that tap out a familiar rhythm as you type your novel, or present your dissertation, or unleash your closing argument. The choreography has changed. The music is different. But between the carpool and the swim meets and the speech therapy appointments, you can still remember the steps that you spent a lifetime learning. Before all of this. Before your heart took over. Before the Legos won.

You don't have to say it. I know.

We are mothering in the space between. Between before and after. We are tiptoeing through uncertain doctor's appointments and uneventful play dates and unbearably long nights. We are spinning through arguments and spinning in princess dresses and spinning our wheels. We are complications of pregnancy and complicated algebra problems at the kitchen counter. The space between before and after has a rhythm, a familiar bass that complicates each step forward, and redefines the journey with every broken graham cracker and broken promise.

You don't have to say it. I know.

Look up. Look up from the bathroom floor. From the laundry basket. From the bed where you have claimed your tiny sliver of space among tangled children's bodies. Look up. You exist. Even here. Especially here, where your before argues with your after, and your babies scream your name.

Your motherhood is complicated, but it belongs to you.

Look up, and tell me your name.


About the Author

Kim Simon

Kim Simon is a writer and mother of two young sons. Her essays on motherhood and current events are regularly featured on The Huffington Post, MSN Living, and other online magazines. She can be found telling the truth about motherhood on her personal blog on and on .

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December 2014
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