This year was my worst Mother’s Day yet. While many people were getting breakfast in bed or snuggling up to their children or, my personal favorite, taking the day off from the business of motherhood and the kids, my day was significantly different. First, I made the mistake of not realizing that I had booked a weekend commitment away from home the same weekend as Mother’s Day. I’ll blame my distracted pregnancy brain for that one. Between a full time job, a baby at home, the exhaustion of pregnancy, buying a new house, renovating the new house, and just taking care of life, I forget a ton and screw up the things I don’t forget. Maybe it’s not pregnancy brain but just an overworked brain, because keeping my head above water is a herculean effort these days. A few days ago I realized I planned 2 different trips away to two completely separate places for the same weekend coming up next month and had no idea until my husband pointed out that I cannot be in D.C. and in Chicago at the same time. So, booking another commitment on a day I should have been with my husband and children was totally my fault. It was for a very good cause, but it doesn’t change that it kind of sucked not being home.
By the time I did get back home, I was exhausted. I had spent multiple days running around, driving long distances, and not being able to sleep due to the increasing discomforts of pregnancy. The heartburn. The hip pain. The tossing and turning. The peeing several times a night. I got home so late that my husband decided to forgo the dinner he was going to cook for me so my Mother’s Day dinner was a salad from Wendy’s. Nothing says today is not about you more than a fast food salad for dinner.
Once I walked in the door my husband needed a break from the baby. I get it. She’s a super needy busy body who is bound and determined to hurt herself all day long. We love her so much but she is positively exhausting. He had her on his own with no help for the past 48 hours and desperately just wanted to be able to poop in peace and maybe take a few minutes to watch something besides BabyFirst TV, but I once read a VERY accurate description of marriage…
What I truly want every year for Mother’s Day is to not have to take care of my kids at all for the day. Sure, I get presents that I greatly appreciate. They are thoughtful and lovely, but being off the clock for a little while is PRICELESS. My husband loves spending time with the kids on Father’s Day. I, on the other hand, would like to spend the day NOT doing the things I have to do every other day of the year. My oldest had gone out of town with me so earlier in the day I managed her all day. This Mother’s Day was already cut down to a mere couple of hours because of my double commitments, and in that couple of hours I dealt with a little person who repeatedly fought with me trying to get to an electrical outlet and demanded I do the “Little Piggies” on her toes about 20 times in a row or else she would meltdown completely.
Exhausted, I climbed into bed as my husband put the baby to bed, but not before trying to tidy up some of the clutter in my recently renovated room. One of the worst parts of completely re-working a room is figuring out a new organizational system for all the random crap you never needed in the first place but still refuse to get rid of. I’ve been working on it for about 2 weeks. I’m not done yet. Around midnight she was awake and screaming for our assistance. I guessed it was my turn to get her so I dragged myself out of bed to find she was awake because she pooped in her sleep again. It never ceases to amaze me that every single time it’s my turn to get her in the middle of the night it’s because she has taken a dump. Do you know how hard it is to get an almost 1 year old back to sleep after changing her poopy diaper? If not, let me assure you that nothing wakes her up and gets her ready for her day like a freshly wiped ass. I spent the next several hours trying various tactics to get her back to sleep. Even when she would fall asleep in my arms, the moment I put her down and attempted to go back to my bed she would stand back up in her crib and scream bloody murder. At one point as I finally got her to settle down in my arms, the baby in my belly began to use my bladder as a bouncy castle. I was so afraid to lie her down because she would wake back up. I had to decide if I was more afraid of her waking back up or of losing control of my bladder on the white upholstered rocking chair. I decided it was much more work to clean the urine from the rocking chair and opted to lay her down so I could use the bathroom. As I suspected, when I put her down she proceeded with the banshee howls.
That night as I sat continuing to rock her I became overwhelmed with fear. I don’t know if it was the exhaustion, the pregnancy hormones or just the stark realization that if I am struggling with life now, I must be headed for true hell when this next baby is born in 4 months. I began to sob uncontrollably with one daughter wiggling in my arms and one wiggling in my belly.
We did this on purpose. We wanted 2 children very close in age. From both of us previously being single parents before this marriage, we learned life is better when your child has a sibling. When I had one child, it was so hard because I was her everything. There were no breaks. I was mom, nurse, butler, Barbie doll, tea party attendee, movie buddy, co-artist, Candy Land opponent and many more things because she had no one else. Some people can handle that and are best friends with their kids. That is not me. Growing up, my parents were not my playmates. They were my parents. I had siblings and cousins for that. There was a line between parents and children and I respect and appreciate that line. I do not desire to be best friends with my children. I love being their parent. When I married my husband, who also had a daughter the same age, life changed in such a wonderful way. She had a built in playmate. Life was infinitely better with two children. It made her a better kid and it made me a better mom. The most beautiful sound in the world became the laughter of the girls playing together. When we had our youngest daughter together we knew we wanted the same thing for her.
But now as I sat, fatigued beyond the bounds of sanity, willing this child to please go to bed, I began to sob uncontrollably. We have demanding careers, multiple children to raise, house projects that seem to multiply before we can cross them off the list, errands that never stop popping up, extra-curricular activities to plan and we decided to add another human to care for to our overwhelming list of responsibilities. Every day by the time dinner is done I am on empty. I have nothing left and there are still 2 more hours before the kids are in bed. I resent myself every day for not wanting to spend time with the kids in that 2 hours. I manage them with one eye on the clock, white knuckling it until bedtime. I spend all day every day going directly from task to task without a break or transition. I work from home so I never get the liberty of missing my children and being excited to see them at the end of my work day. I would not make a good stay-at-home-mom. I need to miss them. I long for the transition of commuting home from work which turns down the mental chatter of my work day and prepares me for my home life. I have to be honest with myself. I am struggling. I am sinking. I am no longer taking care of myself. I am plowing through the mountain of duties of each day and putting every need I have on hold. My needs are not even on the back burner. They are in the freezer. I look at myself in the mirror and I barely recognize me anymore. I’ve let myself go. Not because I don’t care anymore about looking my best, but because I have made myself care about everything else more.
Some people say that’s how motherhood is supposed to be. I strongly disagree. You cannot run a car with no gas no matter how badly you want to. You cannot print after you’ve run out of ink no matter how badly you need that document. You cannot be a great caregiver when you cannot take care of yourself. I am running on fumes. The heavier, achier and more fatigued I become from pregnancy, the busier and busier my youngest child becomes. That is an inverse relationship from hell. The harder it becomes for me to get my heavy self off the couch, the more I have to chase her to keep her from impending doom.
How will I care for a newborn in the middle of the night with a 1 year old also up in the middle of the night? How will my toddler know I still love her dearly when my time is spent struggling through re-establishing life again with another baby? How will my older kids know I haven’t forgotten about their needs when I have two babies hanging on me? How will I ever have time to put myself back together or feel like me again? Was this a big mistake? Dear God, what have we done?
As I continued to weep, my daughter reached her chubby little hand to my face, drawing my attention away from the panic attack building in my chest, smiled and said “Hi”. The look in her eyes and that simple word felt loaded with so much more than I could ever attempt to explain. It softened my heart even if it didn’t chase away my fears. It slowed my tears even though it didn’t provide any answers. I whispered to her “It would be a lot more helpful if you’d just go to bed.”
Another bladder kick from inside the womb forced me to put her down and head to the bathroom. The wailing began again and my tears began to flow again. As I neared my breaking point my husband entered the room and took over. I needed him and he rescued us. He managed to get her back to bed, and although I was immensely grateful, I also felt more inadequate because I failed this night.
As we finally were able to get back into bed I asked my husband how we are going to manage this. He has no real answers but is confident we will be fine because we always manage. In the small hours of the morning I fell asleep trying to remind myself that you never know what you are capable of until you have no choice. This is definitely the worst Mother’s Day I have ever had, but it’s also the most real Mother’s Day I have ever had. Maybe next year we can go back to glitter covered cards and macaroni necklaces.