I’ve been struggling. I often write after-the-fact, when things have resolved a bit, you know, when I have a somewhat tidy way of presenting something that was messy. But I’m sitting down right now to write, and I’m still smack dab in the middle of it, feeling adrift in my life and, well, a little bit like I’m drowning.
I’m finding the mom thing hard. Really hard. Here’s my caveat that I know I’m blessed to be the mom of two beautiful boys and that I’m lucky and shouldn’t complain yada yada but goodness gracious, most days I feel like I’m slowly dying on the inside.
I love everything about the infant stage—such a sweet, sweet time—but we aren’t in that stage anymore. We are well out of it, in the throes of toddlerhood, and I keep telling myself that yes, it is indeed a stage. It will pass. There are snippets of happiness throughout a day, my lifeboats, and I cling to those when I feel like I’m going to be sucked under. Sometimes I am sucked under, and it is all consuming, and I wonder where those snippets are.
I guess lately I’ve been feeling less equipped than usual. I don’t feel adequate; I don’t feel like I’m doing—or that I am—enough. I constantly feel two steps behind where I want to be.
I look on social media and “all the other moms” seem to be thriving. It’s a highlight reel of how much they love and adore their children all the time, which isn’t a bad thing. Good for them! But it makes me feel utterly alone. Alone in those startling fleeting moments of pure hatred I have of motherhood.
I am needed all. the. time. My body, my attention, my brain, my energy, my humor, my patience. All of me is needed all of the time. My children have overtaken every bit of me, of my mind, and I feel strangled.
The sticky thing is that I love them. Oh, I do. How can you feel strangled by love? You can, I guess. I am obsessed with them, all the while feeling like I can’t stand them. How is that possible?
I am baffled by George. He is a puzzle to me, a cranky and fussy enigma that I cannot understand. Rob and I keep saying, “Well it’s because he’s teething.” Or “Well it’s because he is adjusting to the nap schedule” or “Well it’s because he’s weaning” or “Well it’s because he didn’t sleep well last night.” I keep trying to “solve” him, to make sense of why he is so often in a bad mood, but I’m starting to realize with trepidation that there is no solving to be done. This is simply George, and his neediness isn’t going anywhere soon. Yet I continue to tell myself that this crankiness is a phase because otherwise I’d run away.
I don’t just want to love my boys. I want to love them well, as they uniquely need to be loved, right here, right now. And for George, I think that means an overabundance of patience as he learns to regulate emotions. The problem is that it just feels too much for me, beyond my reach. I keep trying to tap into that inner reserve of patience and I keep coming up empty. Instead, I find irritability and frustration.
And Auden, my Auden boy. He is the optimistic and happy-go-lucky counterpart to his brother, but the energy it takes to keep up with him and entertain him leaves me at times more drained than his brother’s crying. “Mommy, you happy?” He always asks. “Mommy, you happy?”
I don’t know if I’m happy, my dear boy. I don’t know.
What does happiness look like in this stage anyway? Sure, maybe I’m happy. But I’m also tired.
I’ve toyed with the idea of not staying at home with them, but I always circle back to knowing that staying home with my kids is what I want to do. I feel like stay-at-home motherhood is God’s call on my life, at least right now. (And if it’s not His call, it’s then my darn best interpretation of it.) It’s a true privilege—I know that—and that’s why it makes me nervous to admit that staying home, although my choice and a privilege, is so so very hard to do.
Five, ten years ago, if you’d asked me what my dream was, I would have told you “having and raising a family.” And guess what? That means I am, right now, living my dream. I have so much to be thankful for. I don’t want to, twenty years from now, regret that I did not savor this time of my life.
But it turns out that this dream is a lot harder than I expected. It’s taking much more of me than I thought possible. It’s stretching me to my outermost limits, pulling me in all sorts of directions, and barely leaving me intact. I don’t feel qualified or adequate enough to even live out my own dream.
I thought that when God called me to something I’d feel, you know, like I knew what I was doing. I don’t. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.
Seasoned parents tell me that I’m in the “busy stage.” Seasoned parents tell me “soon this too shall pass.” Seasoned parents tell me that “it’s just a phase.” I am choosing to listen to them, to tell myself those things over and over, to keep getting up every day and doing it all over again.
I don’t want all of this to come across as whining or complaining. I guess I just want to send these words out into the void, like a message in a little glass bottle, to say that I’m still here, still talking on and on about motherhood because it’s my whole small existence right now, and to say I’m drowning, but that it’s okay, because I’m also living my dream, and both just happen to be true.