This weekend saw me giving up, for possibly the eleventy billionth time. A whirlwind nine-hour away weekend trip has a way of doing that to a mom. Toddlers and babies refusing naps even as they are exhausted and beyond controlling themselves. Older kids that are off their normal rhythm and yourself, who needs sleep, who's busy being social and nice and trying to keep everyone from misbehaving in front of their grandparents. Good heavens.
I got to thinking about why we do it. The trips, yes, but the day to day, everythings. Saying it's hard doesn't really cut it. Saying it's worth it doesn't either. Saying it will pay off is possibly the most dangerous of all, as if our kids were little retirement accounts we are expecting to cash in one day. Being a parent in general but a Mother in particular (and yes, they are different) is more than all of those things. It's a walk of faith. A walk of pain. A walk of heartache, joy and sometimes exasperation. It's not just worth it, just hard, just an investment in something more.
It's a divinely breathed vocation thick with sacrifice and exasperation and bent on making us better people.
So I've compiled a short list of things I know for sure. Maybe you get this, too?
In no particular order, some truths about mothering to get you through this week.
1) You'll give up. You'll toss your hands sky high and say “That's it! I'm done.” And you will be. Except..
2) There is no giving up. The next day will dawn and you'll rise with it, toddler patting your cheek awake and refusing to eat the cereal he just asked for because
3) As hard as it is, as mundane and excruciatingly complex/simple, you really love these people. Even when you don't feel it.
4) You won't always feel it. Sometimes there will be days when you don't feel it at all, when you wonder what a life do-over would look like at this stage.
5) You'll feel guilty for wondering. You'll feel guilty for not spending each moment in ecstatic joy. You'll feel guilty for feeling guilty for feeling guilty. Guilt.
6) There will be days when the stars align and your kids are just so stinkin' cute and you can't update your facebook/twitter/instagram fast enough with all the wonderfulness.
7) There will be days/weeks/months when you are shocked and horrified by what your life looks like, and hope no one ever finds out.
8) You'll take offense when none was meant. You'll offend others.
9) You'll want to be the perfect mom. You'll be aware you're not.
10) You'll hold yourself to a standard no one else meets. Guilt, again.
11) You'll wonder if you're doing it wrong.
12) You'll yell…but then…
13) You'll apologize.
14) Your kids will hug you and kiss you and forgive you and dogpile on you.
15) You'll be overwhelmed with how much you love them.
16) Time will pass through your fingers at a rate you've never before experienced.
17) You'll struggle to remember them at different ages, no matter how much you chanted “savor, savor, SAVOR!” during their baby days when you were so exhausted you could hardly see straight and wore the same shirt for 3 days.
18) You'll celebrate birthdays in a blur and wonder just how a year whips by so quickly.
19) Your heart will literally ache with pride at the people they are becoming.
20) You'll brag about them. And not care, because they are awesome.
21) You'll need help. There will come a time when you need to lean on your Mama friends, and they will pull through. Sometimes when you can't even verbalize your needs, they'll cheerfully show up and take on whatever you need without complaint or judgement. They will be a saving grace in your life.
22) Sometimes you'll get to be that blessing for someone else, and the solidarity you feel as a result will make any extra work more than worth it. Your husband won't always get why you're taking people meals or watching their kids, but you'll do it anyway because it.matters.
23) You'll think toddlers are hard until you have older kids. But you were actually right, because
24) Toddlers ARE hard. Compared to nothing because nothing compares to a toddler.
25) You'll think you nailed this baby thing after you have an easy one. But you actually didn't, because every baby is different. And no matter how many you have, what a pro you think you are— sometimes a baby can take you to your knees and tear you right down to a quivering ball of self doubt.
26) Your toddler will pee in your bed the day that you washed the sheets.
27) Your preschooler will walk confidently into a mud puddle the day he gets new shoes.
28) Your husband will call to ask what's for dinner at the exact worst point of the day.
29) You'll cry.
30) You may even swear. (I have, a time or two).
31) You'll also laugh. And push the coffee table against the wall and wow your kids by knowing all the disney princess songs.
32) You'll embarrass your tween with your dancing. You'll think it's hilarious and try to be extra embarrassing and laugh when his face turns red and he groans “Moooooom! Stoooooooop!”
33) You'll end each day wondering where it went.
34) You'll end every day exhausted, completely wrung right out.
35) Your husband won't understand it…parenting is different for men. He'll try and sympathize, but he won't understand your post partum tears, your pregnancy fears, your intense emotional investment and self worth tied up in minute details such as potty training success and grocery store meltdowns.
36) You'll love him anyway and need him more than he knows.
37) You'll need faith and spirituality more than you ever did before because some days the only way the house is still standing is by some unseen miracle. You'll give your kids to God as babies and believe on His promises fiercely. You'll pray over every injury and peanut butter sandwich.
38) You'll believe that freshly bathed and pajama-ed children are angels on earth.
39) You'll still want to look and feel beautiful. You might resist making that a priority. Don't.
40) You'll end every day in an intense crush of emotions. Intense gratitude at this life and these people. Grief at the relentless passing of time. Guilt at not spending it mindfully enough. And happiness, because goodness—as insane as this all is—Can you imagine not living it?
I sure can't. Here's to another week doing this crazy, nonsensical thing that is more than anyone could ever put into words. Let's do this.