Monday, May 28, 2012

The Fine Print

I want to set the record straight about this post before anyone reads it. It's meant to be a humorous, albeit realistic view of what motherhood and parenthood of toddlers is like. But I was having a hell of a couple of days and I had to release. It felt really good to let it all out and press the Publish button to post it for the world to see, but then about two hours later I rushed to the computer and took it off the blog because I was paranoid people would think that I hate being a mother or they wouldn't see the humorous side of my words. Well, the next day on facebook I had a comment from a single friend in America, plus a comment from my sister in law saying how hilarious and great they thought it was (somehow they both read it in that two hours I had it online?! wow!) and hence, I decided to put it up again for the world to see and judge because it gave them a good laugh anyway. But I just want to be clear that I DO love motherhood and I LOVE my kids, and most of the time it is a joyous experience, mingled in with the moments I mention here. Actually, I take that back, by the time I got these feelings down on paper, the week I had was probably more of these moments mingled with the joyous ones.... but you get what I mean! I hope you read this for what its is... a crazed mother at the end of her witz after a hard couple of days with the kids, letting it all hang out. And on that note, enjoy this glimpse of insanity...

I am sitting here this morning writing this because I can no longer keep what I'm feeling inside of me. I need to release it for fear it will begin eating away at me from the inside until I am left with nothing more than a hollow haggard shell; a burnt out replica of the woman I once was. I'm writing this so that as my children get older I will never completely forget what it is like to be a mother of young children. Never forget the immense struggle it is day after day, week after week, hour after hour.

I am worn out. I am more than fatigued. I'm singed to my very ends. I am so over being a mother right now I struggle to find the words to really express it. To say out loud "I've changed my mind, I don't want to do this anymore", even to me sound way too dramatic. But it's along those lines of how I am feeling. Why doesn't anyone tell  you that being a parent actually sucks? Like, it's so excruciating sometimes that you feel like shouting to the heavens, "You getting a good laugh? You think this is funny? What am I doing, filling the 5pm slot on the Heaven Comedy Channel?!

Seriously, was everyone just lying our whole lives? What's all that baloney about raising young kids being the best part of your life? Or parenthood being 'the best decision I ever made'? Blah! That was obviously during a good day! I bet you went home and before you even got through the door was yelling until you were blue in the face, "I said clean that pigsty right now! Don't talk back to me! Stop spitting on the baby! I said come here now! Who broke my favorite and only glass candelabra that was the one nice ornament in my entire house!?" ... or something like that.

 Why isn't there a person in the world who sits you down and actually warns you about what you're getting in for? At least then you can say you were warned. Some are warned about who we choose to marry, about what career path to follow, even perhaps what suburb to live in. But when a person says "We're thinking of having a baby", why isn't there one person in the room who says "Stop! Now before you go on, please, I beg of you, listen to my words, just hear me out. And then you can continue to make your plans after I have finished saying what I am about to say...". 

You know why no one ever says that? Because we don't want to rain on their parade. On their ignorant, naive, false rendition of the way if really is. Instead what do we do? We smile sweetly and say "Aw! That's great! Good luck! You're going to love it!" and off we go sharing the good times motherhood brings. Things like, "Have you thought of names yet?", "...with their soft little cheeks and little fingers...", "Yes, definiately get a jogger stroller that way you can go jogging whenever you want", and "...hearing the word mama for the first time... aw, it's so special..." ....When really what we want to say is, "See these bags under my eyes? They're not from having special late nights with the hubby. And your hands? Enjoy them now because no matter how many times you wash them your fingers will smell like poo all day every day."

No, we don't want to rain on her parade by telling her how it really is. Instead, we might say something like, "Get some sleep now because you wont be getting any for a long time, hee hee!" with a cute giggle at the end. But what we really wanted to say were the words, "Don't bother trying to get extra sleep now, it wont make a scrap of  difference. During the first trimester of pregnancy you'll either have insomnia from excitement, or be so tired you wont be able to even make dinner for a month. Then during the second trimester you'll be getting up peeing around 30 times a night, and that's if the leg cramps don't shoot you awake at 2am. Then in the third trimester you're going to be so uncomfortable you will have forgotten what it's actually like to sleep through a full night. And then the baby will be born. From that first night pushing that thing out of you as you lay physically beaten and battered at 3am, what you once knew as sleeping-in no longer exists. What you once knew as "getting an early night" will be of no consequence. The words "feeling rested" are no longer in your vocabulary. Oh yes my dear, I am very excited for you, but this excitement comes with this warning... you will not sleep through the night for years and years to come."  But instead, we smile and  tell her how exciting it will be, knowing damn well that she has no idea what is in store for her. And we shake our heads and smile...

Is that what it is?  Do we like watching other people go through the hell we are living or have lived, and so we encourage them and promote only the positives of motherhood? Are our parents using it as a way to get back at us for what they went through? Or is it that we just don't think to say it at the time because the miracle of creating another human being actually over-rides our senses for that moment and reality is put to the back-burner while we celebrate with her? 

I want to set the record straight. Sure, motherhood has great moments. You know, those cheery times when the world is rosy and smiles are filling our faces. When there is peace and things are running smoothly. This blog is filled with post after post of those moments. They are genuine happy moments of fun and joy. These times can go on for hours, even days. But then that hour ends and reality sneaks in with its tiny little footsteps, and the next hour you're standing there in shock saying to yourself, "I just wanted to do something nice, something I thought they would enjoy.... I was just trying to be a good mum....". Because somehow those smiles have turned into frowns, those happy eyes now have tears streaming down them, and everyone is yelling at eachother... And you wonder... 'where did I go wrong?'.

You didn't. You probably did everything right. It's not you; it's your psycho, crazy, unpredictable kids who have ruined everything. Not you. You were just trying to be a good mum and do something nice. Maybe a trip to the park, an ice cream treat, a fun family outing. It was all with good intent. It's not your fault your kids decided to turn on you. It's not your fault the words, "We have to get going now" turn them into winging idiots. And they have no comprehension that you actually have to head home so that you can cook them a meal that is nutritious AND yummy so that they actually eat it and grow into healthy people. It's not your fault that instead of hearing, "Gee, thanks for letting us come to the park today mum. We would have been so bored otherwise!", you are met with, "Aw, but I don't wanna go! One hour isn't long enough! I want to stay! No! No mum, no! I'm not coming! You can't make me! Leave me alone! Put me down! Argh! Noooo! You never let me do anything I want to do!" Boo hoo hoo, winging all the way home, followed by you slamming the car door and screaming "Now get in that shower right now or there's no dinner! I don't want to hear another word! ... Another word! And don't you slam that door!" After which you then walk into the kitchen and begin preparations to actually cook and serve a meal for them. For those ungrateful, selfish little turds who just ruined your fun-planned afternoon. 

Where did you go so wrong? Did you say something to set them off? Am I not raising them properly? Am I teaching them all wrong and instead they are being trained to be spoiled, uncontrollable little brats? Why am I hating this so much? And then the guilt sets in.... I shouldn't be feeling like this. I made the decision to have kids, I shouldn't be wanting to put them up for adoption. I'm the worst mother in the world. Why did I think I can do this? I'm so selfish for feeling this way. I should be grateful that I can actually have children, there are millions of people who can't have even one. They would be grateful every moment for their kids. I suck at this. Why does it have to be so hard? What am I doing wrong? Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.

But why are we the ones feeling so guilty about not enjoying the experience? Of all the people who should be feeling guilty, why should it be us? We're trying trying trying to make things better. We are doing the best we can. We are going above and beyond any patience level human beings should be measured against. And we're the ones feeling guilty? Why?

I'll tell you why. Because no one told us it would be this hard. All they told us were the good things. Our mothers and grandmothers had forgotten about the young kid stage by the time they had teenagers and to them those teenage years turned into the hardest part of parenthood. Some even go so far as to say "Enjoy these years, it's the best times of your life..." and it leaves us mothers-of-toddlers thinking, "Are you serious? It doesn't get any better than this?" When in reality, what they are really saying is that it all just sucks. It's a never-ending, exhausting, messed up job.

But, just as we sit there at baby showers or play dates with our friends and share in the excitement and miracle that is the creation of a little baby, just like those experienced mothers before us, we hold back our comments of how awful our morning was before we arrived there. We hide with makeup the bruise our three year old gave us when they whacked us in the eye with the same toy figurine you bought them just to see their little face light up with happiness. We don't share with them the sleepless month we have had while the baby has suffered with colic, nor do we warn them about the fears of failing the one and most important thing you had always imagined you would be good at.

We don't tell them that they are not just taking on the role of 'mum', but also three additional jobs of non-stop Cleaner, full-time Chef, and live-in Nanny.  We don't tell them that all you have to give will never be enough  to satisfy their wants. We neglect to mention that the pain of child bearing wont end at labor, nor after breastfeeding. You will be stepped on, crawled on; feet will be implanted into your now floppy stomach; Hard little heads will literally collide with yours but no one will hear your cries, because your 18 month old will be crying louder than you are and you will be too busy consoling her to notice the purple egg risen on your temple. You will be pushed out of your bed, yelled at, spat at, thrown up on, hit, kicked, and slapped. Changing a 10 month old's nappy will feel as though you are wrestling with a crocodile, and trying to reason with a four year old will somehow feel physically exhausting. You're forced to re-wash drawings off walls, couches, and tables. Washing.. always washing. Unfortunately you wont be able to get the drawings off your favorite books or canvas prints. You are constantly asked to make something to eat; meanwhile you haven't eaten more than a small bite of one of their sandwiches all day. And, of course they have a meltdown when they see a small bite was taken out of their specially designed crust-less-multi-grain-wholemeal-bread-sandwich you made for them because they were 'starving'. So now you feel like a hypocrite because you're teaching them that it's OK to steal from other people, when you've been telling them to keep their hands to themselves and not touch other people's things all month. So you find yourself apologizing for taking a bite out of a sandwich that you made, for the little brats who you actually have to remind to say 'thankyou' for it.

And you realize... you cannot win. They will not write you a thank you card, you will not receive a letter of appreciation in the mail, and you will not get the key to the city for your efforts in raising awesome members of the community. Your tears will go unnoticed, your sleepless nights uncounted. Your house will be messy, your clothes will be stained. Your car will be a garbage tip, and the meals you slaved over will go uneaten. This is just the way it is. 

You know,over the time I was writing this I was continually interrupted by my three little girls. My three year old climbed up on my knee and wanted a kiss and a hug, and my 14 month old wanted me to put on her shiny new church shoes so she could parade around the house practicing her new walking skills. They were nice moments. Cute little moments I'll maybe share with friends one day. Of course I wont mention that my three year old also deliberately dribbled down my neck as she kissed me because she's going through a spitting phase, and the moment ended with her laughing "Ha ha, I spat on your neck!" and me saying "Ew! Stop spitting on people, that's disgusting!". Nor will I mention the tantrum my one year old threw as I wrestled her down for her morning nap. And I'll say nothing about the fact that my four year old came up to me repeatedly asking "Are you done yet?!" begging for her turn on the computer and rolling her eyes like I was the worst person in the world. I wont mention that I had to threaten 'no computer all day' in order to stop her berating me, nor will I mention that there are now raw spaghetti noodles scattered all over the kitchen floor from where one of them spilt an entire packet on the ground. And I'm sure I wont remember how many times I have given the "shhhh!!" down the hallway as the girls ran around the baby's room door until they eventually woke her up after only 30 minutes of unsettled sleep which will put the baby in a bad nap routine for the rest of the day, and will most likely affect her carefully regimented night-time sleep pattern which will mean I'll be up probably every three hours again tonight, after finally training her to sleep through until 5am every morning over the last four months. 

No, I probably wont mention any of this to my prospective mother friends. And why not? Because like all experienced mothers, who am I to rain on her parade?

1 comment:

  1. Rani that was classic. I can relate on every level haha. I actually had a really good day today cause the kids were sick :) so they were all nice & quiet & cosy & sleepy haha. I love the bit about the sandwich cracked me up! Aah I gave a talk in sacrament on Sunday & openly admitted if I didn't have the gospel in my life & sure knowledge of the Devine role of motherhood I would have definitely been admitted to a psyc ward by now :)