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5 (Totally Cliche) Things I want for Mother’s Day

Mother’s day is my favorite holiday. No, really- it is. I don’t like my birthday that much anymore. I’ve had 31 of them and it’s just gotten a little stale. Christmas involves so much running around and wrapping and cooking and lying my ass off about all the made up ways that Santa breaks into our house and smuggles in dolls and scooters they will surely break their faces on. And let’s face it, I’m doing about 99% of it while my husband’s all like “Hey… what did we get my mom?” and I grind my teeth and try not to punch him while I tell him all about the lovely gift that I picked out while the kids were pummeling each other into the floor of the mall while the T-mobile guy at the kiosk was like “Mamn! T-mobile! Switch to T-mobile!” until I yelled back that T-mobile obviously doesn’t exist anymore and can’t he see I’m a little occupied right now?

Mother’s Day comes without the dreaded T-mobile guy and the wrapping and the forgetting to hang up Christmas lights until 3 am on Christmas morning. There’s no Easter baskets to fill and no bunny trail to leave. It also comes at the perfect time of year when hopefully the sun isn’t scorching my body hairs off yet and the snow is a distant memory. It usually means that the kids try to be good and we get to eat a big brunch and drink alcohol at 10 in the morning so then at least I’m under the illusion that the kids are trying to be good even if they’re throwing bagels at the waitress and yelling about how they don’t like jelly. I’ll just sit there with my 4th mimosa, in my Mother’s Day stupor, looking adoringly at my children anyway because if you can’t do that on Mother’s Day then when can you?

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Aside from the yummy brunch and the stiff drinks, there’s a few other simple things that I love getting when this holiday rolls around. And while I’m fully aware that each and every one of them makes me a total cliche of a mom that doesn’t mean I don’t hope for a couple of them every year.

Here are the things I want for Mother’s Day:

1.Extra sleep– The number one thing on my list is, you guessed it, extra sleep. 15 minutes or an hour, really any amount will do. However long it takes until they’re beating down the door and poking out my eyeballs while my husband looks at his phone on the living room couch and wonders why the room got so quiet. It’s not that long and I usually can’t sleep over the debauchery that’s going on downstairs to begin with. But no matter, even a few extra minutes of shut-eye feels like I’m cheating on my whole family… but in a good way. 

2. Bath Bombs– I hate myself just a little for this one. Like, how is it possible that I love something so much that I used to buy for my grandmother and wonder how they brought her so much joy? Has my life really become that mundane? Don’t answer that. It might be true but it doesn’t change the fact that when I slip into a hot bath after a long day, drop one of those purple suckers in and it fizzes all around me, a wave of gratitude comes over me. My whole body says “Thank you. Thank you, bath bombs for smelling so lovely and fizzing with such enthusiasm. Thank you, children, for being asleep. Thank you, Mother’s Day, for making this dream a reality.”

3. All the coffee. All the wine. A cup of hot coffee, ready and waiting? Yes, please. A bottle of my favorite wine later in the evening, after my brunch buzz has worn off? Not gonna fight ya.

4. An afternoon alone. I really love my kids and I know I should want to be with them all day on Mother’s Day. But here’s the thing- I’m with them every day. I do the school pick-up and the dinner making. Sometimes I work at my computer with four tiny hands groping me and it feels like a million. A million tiny hands all over my body, making me want to rip my clothes off and run naked through the neighborhood until someone has me committed. Because then at least the touching will stop. I love them, but there are few things as pleasant as an entire afternoon spent alone without being felt up to do whatever I want. Go see a movie or wander the streets, asking people for hugs because I haven’t gone that long without being touched in years. I really don’t know what I’d do, but I’m definitely willing to find out.

5. A homemade fucking card. This might be the most cliche of all. My kids make so much stuff and usually it resembles something that’s been through a shredder. But a heartfelt card that they spent a few minutes of their day on, just for me, really hits the spot. It makes all the groping and the yelling in my ear and tugging off my limbs worth it. Even if I have no idea what it says. Even if it leaves my hands sticky and wondering what they hell kind of glue they used. I still want the damn card because it’s Mother’s Day and dammit, I deserve it.

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What have modern mothers lost?

Pregnancy and new motherhood have historically been times for human connection. In other cultures, experienced mothers take pregnant women under their wing. Those moms- to-be are embraced and a wealth of knowledge, advice and friendship is dispensed upon them from the older, wiser women of the community. During postpartum, new mothers are doted upon, rarely leaving bed, let alone home for weeks. And as their children grow, they are not raised by a single family, but rather have a community of eyes looking out for them and hands to help when they are in need.

As American mothers, this is far from our societal norm. We’re mostly meeting the needs of our own children, with little community behind us, minus doting grandparents (if we’re lucky). And that’s okay. But in this day and age, where we mostly do it all ourselves, it seems we’ve become quick to push away even well-meaning offers of help, love or advice for pregnant women and new mothers. With all the viral lists of “what not to say”, the dos and don’ts, and on-going slew of no-nos, I can’t help but wonder, with all the new rules of motherhood, what have we lost?

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No longer is it commonplace for women to offer well-meaning advice to one another, share experiences or heaven forbid, give love in the form of a pat on the belly. Oh, no. These things are not just frowned upon- they’re considered rude, intrusive and downright reprehensible to subject a pregnant woman or new mother to. Granted, some people lack general common sense. We’ve all felt a bit out of place when a touchy-feely grandmother figure got all up in our business. But, I’m talking about advice or physical contact that comes from friends and family members, or other women in our social circles who’ve experienced pregnancy, birth and motherhood, and have knowledge we don’t yet have. Our mothers and grandmothers, our friends and neighbors- aren’t these the people we should be looking to for help and connection, rather than pushing them away?

It seems to me that all the “dos” and “don’ts” and “things not to say” lists (and don’t get me wrong, I’ve written some myself!), don’t do much to connect new mothers. In fact, all these rules seem to do the opposite. They seem to push us further and further away from one another. These days, new mothers seem to do far more learning on the fly, which is no doubt an essential part of motherhood, but wouldn’t it be easier if instead of turning the other way, we tuned into the wealth of information around us? Wouldn’t our first experiences as new mothers be more calm and less anxiety-ridden, if instead, we let people in? And pertaining to pregnancy, birth and postpartum, we can read all the books and articles we want, but what better source of information is there really, than the experiences of our fellow mothers, the ones we already know and trust?

I can’t think of any.

It’s not easy to let people in- I accept and understand this. We simple don’t live in a culture where people do this on the regular. We sit behind computers and phones all day. We are the most technologically connected and yet, emotionally disconnected society that ever was. So it makes sense that most people, especially people in the vulnerable positions of pregnancy and early motherhood, do not have an easy time letting people into their lives with a lot of enthusiasm. We don’t allow people to pat our bellies, ask how many children we plan to have, or if we plan to breastfeed. We feel enraged if someone mention childbirth, daycare or infant sleep, because, hello- that’s just not okay to talk about!

With all the talk of “the mommy wars” dictating our relationships, it makes sense. We are too afraid of the judgment and ridicule we might experience if we do things wrong or differently. So instead of letting people in, we shut them out. We find people who do things just like us, or no one at all. We pile our bedside tables high with stacks or parenting books and use the internet to do our research, rather than looking down the street to the mom of three (with her own stack of books next to her bed).

I am not pointing fingers- I am just as guilty as anyone of all of this. I spent the first few years of my motherhood experience basically alone. And I’m sure it was not simply because I was the first of my friends to have a child, or because I didn’t live in a community with a lot of mothers. It’s because I was afraid. I was self-conscious in my new role. I was not used to talking about my experiences with something so hard and exhausting, something I thought was supposed to come naturally to me, with other people. I was afraid of looking stupid, or incompetent or like a failure. If someone offered advice, I took it to mean they thought I didn’t know what I was doing. If someone expressed affection, I put up a wall. My motherhood experience belonged to me, and I could do it myself, I thought. Yet, I often wondered why it was so damn hard, and why I was so lonely.

During my second pregnancy, I started to understand how people genuinely felt connected to my experience much more than I did the first time. I’d since felt that same connection to other moms or pregnant women, too. When people reached out to me, I began to look at minor invasions differently. I understood now that words and excitement and hands on my belly came from a good place- no one was trying to be offensive, harmful or invasive. They were simply trying to offer love and support because having your first baby, second, and so on, are times of incredibly transition, anxiety and wonder. Our hearts swell when we see a pregnant woman or a mother caring for an infant and we’re built to feel this way, not to live our lives as separate entities who don’t help or guide or teach one another, especially during the transitions that motherhood brings.

These days, no matter how deeply we feel those connections, we’re also taught to push them away hard and fast. Few people mean to be offensive, or harmful, when giving a loving pat on the belly or words of wisdom. But it is so often, viewed as invasive, as are words of advice or tales from experience. Now, instead of offering advice or support when we see a new mom, we mostly keep our mouths shut, our hands to ourselves. We’ve read one too many lists of rules and we know the things we aren’t supposed to do by now. Even though, we know in our hearts, women don’t often reach out to one another in order to ridicule- it’s to offer help, compassion, friendship, we remain quiet. We play by the rules and leave new moms to fend for themselves, like we did.

I’ve been a mother for over six years now and my thoughts on connection between mothers has shifted. These days, I embrace well-meaning intrusions whenever possible in whatever form they come in. I listen and take advice whenever I can- in fact, I’m desperate for it. I’ve grown comfortable in my skin as a mother and so, I’ve let down my walls. I don’t always agree with what’s being offered. I’ve been around the block long enough to have my own way of doing things, my own ideas, my own motherhood agenda. But even with that being true, now I realize, that there is always the opportunity to learn from the mothers before me, the ones whose daughter is going through puberty, or whose son is struggling in school. There is simply too much to learn, to keep pushing others away, and it’s hard and it’s scary, but becoming a mother is all of those things, too. It’s less scary with community. It’s less scary with connection (and I don’t mean the internet).

New mothers have a lot of worry and sometimes one of those worries is about all the advice they might receive. But that is one I think we should all scratch off our list. Because if we’re so worried about the usually well-meaning intrusions of other mothers that we completely close ourselves off, then that is the saddest thing of all. Motherhood is not a time to isolate ourselves, in fact, it is a time that should connect us through common struggles and experiences. It is a time to let people in, to ask for help and to throw out the damn rulebook. Because while some of the rules might make sense on paper, in real life, the only thing that really matters is having people who are there for you, and there will likely never be a time when you need them more.

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“I Never Planned On Being A Parent”

At the time I turned twenty-four, the only thing I was nursing was a half a dozen vodka martinis and inevitably, a hangover. But by the end of the year, I had a full-time milk guzzler attached to my ever-expanding chest. This had not been in my plans for the year, but then, I was never much for plans.

I’ve always been a person who does things in extremes. I partied hard. I enjoyed the high highs of life which meant that sometimes I had to dig my way up from the low lows. So, it would only be fitting that when it came time for me to get knocked up, I’d be unmarried, underemployed, and under the influence. Motherhood would knock me off any high horse I’d ever ridden on. But for me, the work of it came early and it stayed late, like I always had.

It is for this reason that getting pregnant was the best and worst thing to ever happen to me. It was the worst because it altered everything I thought I wanted for my life—freedom, excitement, and spontaneity. It was the best because I eventually found out I didn’t need those things. But the road to get there was hard, harder than I had thought it would be.

Just a week after taking the test (the test which seems to have only one question but really has hundreds: Where we will live?, Can I handle this?, Will we be okay?, Will I make a good mother?), I was hit with the most attention-demanding nausea of my life. Every day was a battle. Getting out of bed was pure pain. No matter what I’d do to stave off morning sickness, I’d always end up on the bathroom floor for hours upon hours. Finally, I’d move to the couch, I’d bring a bowl, and there I’d stay.

Everything in my life shut down. It was as if someone was trying to tell me to make a clean break. “Leave the rest behind. There’s no room for it now. This motherhood thing is gonna get ya.” That god-awful nausea, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But maybe in some ways throwing up my stomach lining for the better part of a year needed to happen to me. Maybe it made my first year as a mother less gut-wrenching because I’d already purged up so much of my past life. Maybe it was my detox, my saving grace. Maybe at the time I delivered, most of me was already gone.

For me, pregnancy was hard and terrifying. I’m not sure if it’s like this for most people, but it was for me. I didn’t eat pickles and ice cream. I ate toast and peanut butter, maybe mashed potatoes, or something that might, hopefully, maybe stick to my stomach. I didn’t take the classes or read the baby books. I figured everything would turn out the way it was supposed to (again, not big on the planning).

As my hips grew wider and I peed a little more every time I sneezed, I started to wonder what pregnancy was like for people who actually did plan to be parents and who mapped out every step of the way once they saw that pink plus sign. I’d never so much as thought about being a mother or really knew if I wanted to be one. I wondered how much easier the people who’d desired motherhood for years and years might have it than me, how much more graceful their transitions to being a parent would be than my own.

Excerpt from It’s Really 10 Months- Special Delivery 

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To continue reading my story (and heartfelt and hilarious others) you have to buy the book! 😉 

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Being a depressed parent doesn’t make you an “ungrateful” one

If you haven’t seen the results of the recent survey on parental happiness, perhaps you’ve been sleeping under a rock (or under a mess of children) for the past couple weeks. The study, which no one can seem to stop talking about, looked at over 2,000 Germans before they had children until two years after their first child was born. The researchers found that on average, parenting was not only more stressful than divorce or unemployment, but also than the death of a partner.

The internet erupted, and continues to erupt over the findings. Parents are at odds with one another about the study. Some feel it’s ridiculous, proclaiming they enjoy absolutely “every moment” with their kids. But others aren’t surprised one bit that the first two years of parenting are monumentally draining, emotionally taxing and, yes, depressing, some commenting to the tune of “did we really need a study to tell us that?” It’s okay that all parents aren’t on the same page here. But then the word “ungrateful” starts to get thrown around a lot and that’s when I get all revved up and start typing.

What rubs me the wrong way is the name-calling and trying to speak to someone else’s experience when you haven’t walked one day in their shoes. If someone isn’t enjoying every moment of parenthood or is going through a rough patch with a newborn (or, hell, a teenager!) they are instantly pegged as not being grateful enough for their children. The minute a parent admits it’s not all roses, it seems the mud-slinging starts and it’s not okay.

Opinions about whether the study is a crock or not aside,  lets get one thing straight- depressed or unhappy parents are not necessarily ungrateful parents. So can everyone please stop saying that? Being exhausted, overwhelmed, lonely, financially strapped are things a lot of people have to go through and no, it is not always easy and enjoying every moment is not always possible.

Sometimes, you’re just trying to keep your head above water. Sometimes, you have to go through really, really difficult things that you didn’t expect, like an infant who doesn’t sleep more than ten minutes straight for a whole year, or a partner who travels constantly for work.  Sometimes parenting is so much damn harder than we expected it to be and we have no idea where to turn or what to do to make the carousel stop turning.

Yes, I’m speaking from experience. And yes, I can tell you, after the last chaotic and exceedingly overwhelming year of my life, that is it entirely possible to be mind-numbingly depressed and still completely and utterly grateful for the lives and health of our children. In fact, it’s the only thought that kept me going after the birth of my second child. I am so grateful for this baby. I thought it, said it, felt it when I stroked his cheek on the rare occasions that he slept. I cried and cried and held him and said “thank you” a hundred times a day because I was so grateful for him even in my darkness. Sometimes I even felt my immeasurable gratitude exacerbated my anxiety that something could one day happen to him. That he wouldn’t always be okay. That there were a million things , scary things, completely out of my control. 

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While the study didn’t shock me as much as it did some, it did make me realize one thing- as a community of parents, we need to do more to help one another because most people feel very alone at some point during their parenting journey, but especially during the first two years. I’ll admit, the results of the study aren’t easy to digest. How can parenting be more stressful than death? But even if it’s a little rough around the edges, it seems to me that there has to be a kernel of truth there, and that is, that parents are struggling.
As a community, we need to realize that not everyone walks the same path. Just because parenthood has been kind to you, don’t point fingers at someone who is struggling and say “how ungrateful you are! Why did you even have kids in the first place?” Because sometimes it’s the parents who are giving absolutely every bit of themselves to their children that struggle the most.

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Stop Dumbing Down Motherhood: Appearances aren’t everything

A new post called “The New Face of Motherhood: Young, Cool Moms Who Are Totally Killing it” recently caught my attention. While the title on it’s own is enough cause for concern, the meat of the article is a bunch of superficial ways in which young mothers are… looking cool while mothering? I guess? If I’m being honest, I’m still kind of unclear on what the author means by “killing it.”

Sheesh. It’s a tough read by anyone’s standards.

First off, …WHAT.THE.MOTHER.FUCK? Since when do moms have to be young OR cool to be “killing it”? Apparently, these moms are “totally owning the parenting game,” though. I almost threw up in my mouth when I typed that, just in case you were wondering.

Though we learn little about the actual women in the photos, we are led to believe that appearances really are everything. The writer shows us a bunch of images of moms taking cute pregnancy shots, feeding their kids all organic or home-made baby food and of course, being uber-stylish while the do it all. Style is, of course, the most important aspect of parenting. DIDN’T YOU KNOW????!!!! Sorry to be the one to break it to you. As I sit here in the same yoga pants I’ve had on for three days in a row, I’m more confident than ever that I am totally failing motherhood.

If looking cute and teaching my kids to use an iPhone are what’s “killing it” in regard to motherhood, that’s pretty fucking sad. And disappointing. Thank goodness the author of this piece is completely confused. I think we’re all really confused after reading that piece of internet garbage. #sorrynotsorry

I thought motherhood was about hard work, dedication, or maybe a love for our kids. How about triumph over difficulties? Hello, single motherhood or moms who freaking work three jobs to keep a roof over their kids heads? No where in this piece are these moms, ya know, the ones who are actually “killing it” represented.

Perhaps, it’s just about selfies and matching bathing suits, though… yeah. That must be it.

Running around with my kids in tye dye and yoga pants... KILLING IT.
Running around with my kids in tye dye and yoga pants… KILLING IT.

I have no doubt that some of the moms in these pictures ARE actually killing it. In fact, I’m a fan or more than one of these adorable women. I am not knocking moms that look cute when doing motherhood! NO. NO. NO. Saying these moms are better or worse than any other mother is exactly what’s wrong with pieces like this. They tell us what motherhood should look like and what is important about it, and likewise, what isn’t.

The reasons the author chose these moms has little to do with their dedication to motherhood, work, or what amazing and inspiring women they actually are. It’s all 100% superficial and it just makes me want to yell “PLEASE, STOP TELLING MOTHERS WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE AND CARE ABOUT IN ORDER TO BE GOOD MOMS. WHY! GOD! WHY!????” I seriously can’t take it. It is so bad for women.

Crap like this makes moms think they have to do all those things to be relevant but guess what moms, you are so important when you are at your sweatiest, grossest, most stressed! That is when you’re in the thick of motherhood. When you overcome all the crap that motherhood throws your way, have to miss your workout for the zillionth time because somebody woke up early from their nap or puked in your hand and you didn’t flip out or cuss everyone out or threaten to run away. That’s when you’re killing it and that’s what we should support and encourage and post pictures of and talk about how awesome those moms are. The struggling, sweaty, real motherhood. Both motherhoods are beautiful. Not just the superficial matchy-matchy pictures or pinteresty party moms. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??? THAT’S JUST ONE TEENY TINY ASPECT OF THAT PERSON’S MOTHERHOOD EXPERIENCE. IT IS NOT THEIR MOTHERHOOD. OMG.

Let me tell you about the times I feel like I’m “killing it” as a mom. They are absolutely not when I’m snapping selfies, wearing a bathing suit that matches my daughters or making sure she’s tech savvy. I was killing it when…

1) My infant son puked every day, 15 times a day and couldn’t be put down for a solid week and we got through it.

2) When my daughter lost her shit for about 6 months and resented the hell out of me and my husband after our second baby was born and we gave her everything we had and could to help her through.

3) When my daughter came down with a rare and terrifying illness when she was 8 weeks old and I pumped every day, all day, like it was my full time job in hopes of continuing breastfeeding after a 2 week hospital stay.

4) When I overcame postpartum anxiety/depression.

5) When I didn’t sleep for about 10 months of my life.

6) Three words: Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Twice.

7) Um… childbirth, anyone????

8) Absolutely any time when I want to scream or yell or cry and instead I am kind when I really don’t want to be.

9) When I sacrifice my time, my body, my work because my kids need me.

10) When I feel good about myself no matter what I look like or what anyone else thinks about me and my motherhood.

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Needing more than to be needed

As a mother who stays at home, works at home, wipes snotty faces and does everything else at home, on any given day, finding time to shower or go to the bathroom is a struggle. When I do, it’s hurried or a spectator sport at best, a crying, massive, ridiculous meltdown in the making at worst. One baby screaming in his crib and flailing his body against the rails while his sister throws things at him or down the stairs or tries to make him dance while he protests and cries harder. Who knew peeing (or God forbid, pooping) could cause such utter chaos? People with bladder control problems and mothers (so basically, just mothers)- that’s who.

The time I have away from my children at this point in my life is very limited. It is almost nonexistent. My husband travels for his job about half the month and during that time, I am holding down the fort and sometimes unraveling, briefly, then putting myself back together before too much damage has been caused. I am always hopeful that by the end of the day, tired children will go to bed easily, sleep well and there will be a few moments in the day for me. That I will end the day on a high note, feeling like I did the best I can do and once they are tucked in my good karma will kick in and I can put my feet up. Usually, that doesn’t happen, but I remain hopeful with each passing day that soon it will.

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Instead what almost always happens is some variation of the following. My daughter gets excited because she has me all to herself. There is no other adult in the kitchen to talk to and sneak glances to or to help me make dinner. Just a baby who doesn’t talk and a 5-year-old who never stops talking. If my mind drifts for a moment my silence is met with “mama!… mama!” I love her adoration of me, but sometimes, it is suffocating and it is overwhelming, especially now that there is another tiny person to feed, clothe, bathe and put to bed, too.

She is in my lap, she is pawing at my hair, she is covering me in garments. Her tiny hands are all over my body. They are on my bare breasts, cozying up to me while the baby nurses. On my face and neck and belly. They are everywhere. They are hands that I love more than anything, but they are playing a very intrinsic part in my combustion. I grit my teeth and take deep breaths and sometimes I say “mommy, needs some space,” but more often than not those words are lost on her.

This feeling rises up in me that I can usually push away. It’s just me. And it will just be me at 3 AM and first thing in the morning and when I’m at my breaking point. Even my breaking point doesn’t matter. There is no getaway, minus when my heart-of-gold neighbor with her own small child offers to take the crying baby so I can jog out my stresses before he implodes from separation anxiety or hunger or angry-baby-itis. Or when my mother watches him while I go to a long overdue dentist appointment, settle into the chair to watch Regis and Kelly and feel like I’m on vacation. That is, until they tell me how pregnancy and hormones have done a number on my gums and holy hell, that hurts and why didn’t I find time to come to the dentist in the last four years?

More often than not, at some point in the day that I start out having the highest hopes for, I feel completely defeated. And I ask myself “why is this so hard?”

On my husband’s most recent trip, my daughter stayed home from her morning preschool due to a mild fever the night before. She’d been running circles around me all day while I tried to not picture the entire lonely week ahead of me.  After hours of making dinner, begging people to eat dinner, cleaning it up, tantrums, baths, nursing, more tantrums, a teething baby who can’t sleep and big kid who was enraged about it, I lost it. I yelled. I sobbed. And then my “me time” that I’d been looking forward to, instead of spending it putting up my feet, watching The Mindy Project, I spent feeling the pangs of horrible, devastating guilt and wondering “how did I become this angry, tired, overwhelmed mom who yells? This isn’t who I wanted to be. This isn’t how it was supposed to be. In fact, it’s the opposite of everything I wanted to be. This isn’t what my motherhood was supposed to look and feel like. This is not my motherhood.”

I spend almost all of my time and energy loving the shit out of my kids. Finding these little magic moments in ordinary days. Kissing dirty faces and being easy going and making sure everyone has gotten enough enough hugs, kind words and discipline. And then I spend just a little bit of time wanting terribly to get away from them. Needing to get away from them. And it’s not because I’m a horrible person or because I’m not enjoying motherhood as much as I should be. It’s not because I’m emotionally unbalanced (well, maybe, a little). Mostly, it’s because “away” doesn’t exist. Breathing easy, being alone, working, writing uninterrupted by a poopy diaper, a spilled drink, or getting hit in the head with a sock monkey, it’s just not a part of my life. Or it’s so fleeting, it’s over before it started.

Even on my best day, when I’m calm, cool and collected, or do a good enough job pretending I am, by 10 PM, sometimes earlier, I just want to curl up in bed and not be needed. I want to do a good job, not a mediocre one, on something I get paid for. I want to prioritize something thats mine, instead of always letting my work, my ambitions, my “chances” slide because there is too much else that’s important. And I let that thought come in, that sounds something like “I can’t see them anymore today. Not right now. Please, stay in bed. Please.” And I let it wash over me and feel the enormity of the guilt that comes with it. Every ounce.

My motherhood experience is not all roses and I don’t need it to be. I don’t need to be told how much I will miss these times because I already know how true that is. The other day I was driving home and I started thinking about when my daughter was two with her white tuft of hair and her long eyelashes and her fearlessness. I got a tear in my eye but I couldn’t finish the thought because she yelled “mama!… answer me!” from the backseat and then it was gone. The opportunity to reminisce, to miss something, evaporated.

The fleetingness of motherhood is with me, always. But so is knowing that I need more than simply to be needed. Part of my motherhood experience is remembering me- the mother. And finding her and telling her she’s important, too. I love my children all the time, but sometimes, I just want to miss them. I want to know what it’s like to come up for air. And I want to know that that’s okay.

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Why I love honest moms

I have a high-needs baby. There is no way around it. He is the apple of my eye, as is his five-year-old mile-a-minute sister. But this kid is far from easy-going. He doesn’t like many people besides me. He doesn’t like getting his diaper changed and he hates bottles. But on the list of things he doesn’t like, sleep is number one.

My not-so-newborn absolutely hates sleep and will fight it at all costs, until I’m crying in the basement, letting him scream for just a few minutes so I can do the same in private. At seven months, he is now in the throes of separation anxiety and I, a not-religious-in-the-slightest person, am finding myself talking to God on the regular, hoping He will send me a lifeline.

My husband and I have thrown our hands up and given each other blank stares, not having any idea what else to do. I have swaddled, nursed on demand, laid on my bed for two hours (or more) not moving a muscle while he napped. I’ve begged my daughter to please play quietly. I’ve made her cry by snapping at her. I’ve let the baby scream so I could give her a much needed hug. I’ve also felt worse about myself as a mother and a person than I ever thought possible.

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