Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Don't tell me that motherhood isn't that hard
"Motherhood isn't that hard," says the woman passing by. We have just boarded an airplane headed home from London and Ben is attempting to sit next to me even though the seat is assigned to someone else, but try explaining that to a 3-year-old. I keep urging him to return to his seat next to Sabrina.
I look at her. "Oh, are you a mother?" I ask.
She nods to two girls trailing behind her. "These two," she says. "It'll be OK, just calm down." She walks on.
I was already frazzled—getting through airports and loading everyone onto the plane has that effect on me. And now, I am perturbed. Don't tell me motherhood isn't that hard, lady, because sometimes it is. Not rocket-scientist hard, but it sure does challenge you in other ways: your patience, your endurance, your willpower, your sanity.
I may have a child with disabilities who needs an extra hand but on any given day, every single one of my three children has special needs. And I am one of the lucky moms, because my partner and I have jobs and health insurance and a place to call home. Motherhood is extra-hard for moms who lack the income or resources to care for their children.
Over the years, my fellow working moms and I have often joked about how going to an office is far easier than parenting. At work, you have defined rules that people tend to follow. Others listen to you politely, without whining (to your face, anyway). You get to grab lunch, hit Starbucks or take bathroom breaks at your very own will.
At work, you don't have to beg anyone to take one more bite of lunch or to stop sending tidal waves of water over the side of the bathtub or ask anyone to clean their room for the bazillionth time or handle a child having a meltdown in public as everyone stares or attempt to help one child with homework as two others demand your attention or face the hormonal wrath of a teen or struggle to explain math you're not totally clear on or I could go on and on but I could really use a nap.
Motherhood is being a juggler, diplomat, coach, chef, organizer, janitor, teacher, secretary, personal assistant/shopper, housekeeper and motivational speaker EVERY SINGLE DAY. It is putting yourself last, if that, even when you're sick or burned out or exhausted. It is tumbling into bed and being too wiped out to read a page, let alone a chapter, in the book that's been lying on your nightstand for way too long even though it's a really good book.
Motherhood is never taking the day off, because there's just no turning off the endless loop of worry in your head about the kids. And whether they can go for just one more day in their old, no-longer-fitting shoes.
At times, motherhood breaks your heart, whether you are grappling with a child's disability or health issue or come upon a baby photo and wonder how that little guy has grown up so fast. The two weeks that Max spent in the NICU were the absolute hardest ones in my life.
And of course all the blood, sweat and tears are worth it. And my children are the miracles in my life. And they're all sorts of fun. And maybe parts of motherhood comes easier to some than to others.
But that's no reason to judge mothers for those times when they're having a moment.