It was one of those days on top of one of those weeks.
My once sweet little baby decided turning two really was a good time to start being terrible. My four-year-old failed over and over again to keep his hands to himself and lay off the potty talk in public. My energy was depleted from arguing over leaving the playground, or what food I served, or why I couldn’t tell another story because it’s time for bed.
It was tantrums and meltdowns and breakdowns. It was kids screaming for more food even though they just ate. It was pulling apart ugly fights. It was enduring harsh glares and rude comments. It was was locking myself in the bathroom to steal five minutes of peace. It was lying in bed under a pile of crying children. It was praying every morning for an OK day. Just OK, because great felt impossible.
I am far from the first to write these words. The challenge of motherhood theme resonates across the blogosphere. We read them and nod along in agreement because we are those mothers. And, yet, there is always people there who tell you to, “get over it.” There is always at least one comment about how you should feel blessed. There is always someone to tell you how much worse things could be.
I get it. I know in the grand scheme of life gauntlets thrown at you, I got a fairly easy one. I know many mothers face far greater burdens.
There are mothers who have buried their children.
There are mothers who parent alone.
There are mothers whose children have special needs.
There are mothers who never know if their military partners will come home.
There are mothers who wonder how they will pay for this week’s groceries.
There are mothers who don’t know if they will live long enough to watch their kids grow up.
But, acknowledging their struggles doesn’t make me feel better. I don’t experience schadenfreude. I achieve no joy from others sorrow. I don’t have a bad day and say, at least I’m not “so and so.”
What brings me comfort is knowing those moms, who from the outside seem to be suffering so greatly, are often the most positive, the most joyous and the most grateful. They seek no pity or sympathy. They find the strength to handle each day with dignity and grace.
And, some days, like for all of us, the weight of motherhood is too much to bear. Some days we are all a collection of parents with varying degrees of struggle. We have moments of wondering how we can possibly handle it all. We scrape the bottoms of our souls to give just a little bit more, and when we have nothing left, we call ourselves failures. We are women who share the gift of motherhood and all of its beauty and pain.
We need the pain. We need the struggle. We need the heartache. We need the horrible moments to help the wonderful ones shine through. We need the worst days to bring out the best.
Because just when we wonder how much more can we possibly handle, the simplest joys bring us back from the brink.
I watch my boys chase one another around the house, gleefully laughing with pure exuberance. The little one catches up with his older brother and knocks him over while giving him the biggest hug his little hands can muster. This is all it takes to remind me why I chose this path. And for that, I am grateful.