Yesterday marked 36 weeks of waddling around with a living, peeing bowling ball taking us residence in my uterus. And, as 36 weeks pregnant is wont to do, I am giant, sore, tired, and oh-so-cranky. I have a litany of grievances a mile long, some of which might include words like “leakage” and “swollen” and “furry”. My hips slide in and out of place when I walk up the stairs to my job, no food sounds appealing but I want to eat constantly, and I wake up at night panting because I just can’t breathe with all this person in there. So, yeah- I’m cranky AF.
Now typically I’m pretty consistent about just funneling that crankyass-ness directly toward my husband, thus protecting everyone else from my irrational, hormonal, sweaty rage. But over the past week, something has changed and I have all the mom guilt over it: I’m getting cranky with my toddler, too.
I know I talk a real big game about being upfront about all the crappy, messy parts of being a mom, but I’m always pretty careful to not crap on being a mom, because at the end of the day? I started a blog and a brand dedicated to motherhood because for all its ugliness it is the coolest, most hardcore, beautiful, mindblowing thing I’ve ever experienced. And because of that, while I openly acknowledge how hilariously bad it is to end up in a situation where you are encouraging your kid to puke on you [or any other number of hair-raising parenting misadventures], I always try to clearly, if subtly, differentiate between the fact that this particular situation in motherhood sucks, but motherhood itself it pretty awesome. That raising my kid may sometimes be a long ride on the struggle bus, but getting to raise my kid is the coolest ish I’ll ever do.
The past week though? I have outright struggled with being. a. mom. Full stop. Momming in general- not a specific situation- has really taken it out of me. While I am nowhere near as patient with Theory as my husband is, I usually have a pretty extensive supply of grace and empathy for her while her two-year-old brain tries to make sense of a huge, weird world she’s still relatively new to. She’s full of tons of big new feelings but not nearly enough emotional resources to process them. And while I may be frustrated by things she does, I seldom get frustrated at her. And yet…
And yet, this week, while I am reaching the tail-end of my gestational patience, she’s catapulting headfirst into the terrible twos: throwing my drink into my “relaxing” bath just because; dumping the Hot Pocket she couldn’t live without two minutes before onto the floor to be Hoovered up by two apparently-starving dogs; cuddling up with me as I’m typing a paper for grad school under the pretense of snuggling and instead pressing ALL THE KEYS on the keyboard rapid-fire like she’s having a damn convulsion, which of course deletes half my paper; ad infitum forever. It’s a less-than-fortuitous coincidence; two unpleasant ships passing in the night, and I find myself nagging, and threatening, and raising my voice, and overall being harsher and shorter with her than I usually am. It feels like it would be easier just to stick her in front of the TV to watch True and the Rainbow Kingdom while I engross myself in my phone to spare us from a verbal sparring match over something trivial, like whether her hair needs to be washed tonight [Spoiler alert: it does. It always does. It’s full of Spaghetti-Os and boogers, every day, without fail. No, seriously, have kids- it’s great.].
Then, in the back of my mind, comes the ultimate mom guilt: with a due date less than a month away, these opportunities for one-on-one time with my girl are precious and limited, and I’m wasting them snarking and correcting and sighing exasperatedly as I prepare the third thing she’s asked for for dinner but will inevitably refuse the second I set it in front of her [even as I write this, she is throwing the piles of clothes I’ve just folded across the room]. Anyone else in that place, too?
But if you think this is the kind of post where I proselytize at you [and myself] to grin and bear it, to remember these moments are fleeting, that they’ll be grown up too soon, to force yourself to enjoy even these supremely shitty moments of motherhood…you must be new here. There is no denying this sucks. I’m a walrus who can’t even get out of bed without a friendly push from my husband and my toddler is acting like an eccentric authoritarian oligarch and HOLY CRAP DOES IT SUCK. And the grace I told you to extend to your partners? The grace I try to show my girl while I know she’s trying to make sense of everything and test boundaries and figure out the most basic parts of life, like how her tongue works, and also the most complex, like what it actually means when she says “I love you, mommy”? Welp, today it’s our turn. Give yourself that grace. Please. It’s not magic and puppy kisses every minute, or every day, or even every week. And yes, all those things I said above are true: these moments are sprinting away from us, one at a time, until eventually they’ll all be gone. But that self-sacrificial martyr mindset of not acknowledging the suck out of guilt and fear that it won’t last forever [the mothering, not the suck. Mostly.]? Forget that. An equal part of motherhood to savoring these beautiful minutes with my kids even as I’m living them is living the crappy parts and letting myself feel them, acknowledge them, fully. Denying myself the ability to feel and work through the crankiness and those other negative feelings isn’t experiencing motherhood in all its fullness; it’s experiencing only the acceptable parts, and it’s a robbery.
So, yeah…I wish I was the fully engaged, patient, gentle parent of my dreams, the one I try to be most of the time. But right now, I’m not, and I can’t be. I’m completely tapped out, from the tips of my fingers down into the depths of my soul. I just have none of it left in my reserves to give. But even that feeling, the depth of that emptiness, is only possible as a result of the endless, unrelenting demands of motherhood, unique as a fingerprint to this season of my life. So today, this week, however long it may last [but gahhh I hope it’s not too long], I will let myself feel it without the guilt, because being present for it is bearing witness to a part of motherhood, even though it’s not the pretty part. It’s just the almost-baby blues.