Pretty often, maybe even daily, my husband and I will be watching our children, blinking hard past our exhaustion and find ourselves once again asking the same question we asked the day before: How do people do this every day?
Parenthood, that is. I mean, is it this hard for everyone? Are all parents just sitting in a daze all wondering if everyone else is wondering if it is this hard for them too?
The other Sunday, we were once again in the "wiggle room" with Daphne (8 mo) while Matilda ran amuck in nursery for the morning. While everyone pretty much keeps to themselves quietly, trying to absorb the lovely church service through the 45" plasma hanging on the wall, one can't help but observe others and their children. There was a sweet nearly-2-year-old girl just playing quietly while her mother nursed a new baby. They looked happy, well-rested and calm. Were they thinking the same thing about me?
I ran into the same mother in the restroom later, as we both changed our baby's diapers, and we quickly exchanged the names, age and birth experiences of our new daughters. Even though, by the end of our sharing, I found myself envious of her 1-hour labor story and sleeping-through-the-night 7 week-old (are you freaking kidding me?)...I still shared a mutual sympathy for her efforts. I think there is always an understood sentiment felt between women once they are ushered into the club of motherhood, and I felt that for her in this moment. That, even though I wanted to shout "You have it so easy!" I still could see the frazzled look in her eye, the worry in the tightness of her lips, and the nervousness in the intensity of her grip on her new baby that told me - she is still struggling to do the best she can just like me.
My children sleep so little that you would seriously
think I was filling their bottles with coffee.
We parted ways a bit awkwardly (as many encounters in the restroom can be) and I could tell I was headed in a different direction than she was. I didn't know how to end this conversation that went from "Aw, cute baby" to "how far were you dilated" in split seconds and now was curiously making its way back to normal-people-status. Uhhh. I wanted to say "It gets easier!" and leave her with one sturdy ounce of encouragement to make it through the next hour...but, literally, in that moment, I thought Does it? Does it get easier? I don't want to lie to this poor soul! It gets different, but so far it does not get easier! So, instead, as I was walking out the door, I turned awkwardly and just said "By the way, you look really great!" The end.
Yes, this was my awkward encounter with a strange new mother in a church restroom. But, you know what? She smiled. Mission accomplished. The next time you see a new mother in a frazzled state or looking discouraged...don't tell her it gets easier. Don't tell her to enjoy the moment or nap when the baby naps. Just tell her she looks fantastic and walk away. We need that. It's probably the one thing you could say that doesn't get old hearing.
So, this whole parenting thing - will it get easier? Let me narrow down what I'm talking about: exhaustion. Lack of sleep. Life progressing around you in a blur of picking up toys and cleaning spit-up. Surviving in warp-speed of tripping over laundry and get yet another meal on the table. Being. Tired. All. The. Time.
Am I taking crazy pills? Am I the only mother who is sitting here thinking "I really don't think other people understand"? Surely, not. So, then, are their children equally crazy? Do their children incessantly yell at them and demand their attention until it ends in a fit of rage and tantrum kicking? And then, of course, the next SECOND later the same children are smiling and saying "I love you mom-mom" and asking to read Cinderella again and SUCKING you back into that deep vortex of love that makes you want to buy them ponies and make home-baked-masterpieces that you only drool over via pinterest???
I see posts all the time of moms complaining/venting about how their kid won't sleep or eat or behave, etc. But then, I read further and find out that their baby woke up once during their 3 hour nap...and my head spins at the thought of having such a luxurious amount of time to fill with whatever I might choose. My children sleep so little that you would seriously think I was filling their bottles with coffee. Sigh. So, does that mom understand me? Does she look at me and envy that my toddler will eat her green beans? Does she read my posts and think "this crazy loon doesn't know how hard my life is!"?
Yes. Yes to it all. We are all taking crazy pills.
We are all exhausted in some area of parenthood somewhere, I just have to believe that. We are all trying to raise productive little souls that will be kind and grow up to make their own nutritious breakfast every day and not become serial killers who won't remember when Mother's Day is. We all wear clothes we have to wash and eat food we have to fix. We all work jobs that don't pay enough and drive cars that break down too much. We all have friends who we don't deserve, both good and bad. We all have crazy families who offer terrible advice and not enough help. We all are fighting The Man, the traffic and bad breath.
We will make it.
It may take a lot of coffee, even more prayer, and a crazy lady in the church bathroom telling us we look great to get us through one more day...but we will. We are parents. We are awesome.
Now, take two more crazy pills and call me in the morning. Cause trust me...I understand.