I feel like I am drowning. Trying my hardest in a storm ridden sea to tread water, to hold three lives above the waters that come crashing into my face tossing me under. My experience with motherhood is earth shaking and life altering. It is not for the weak, it is not for the faint of spirit, it is not for the lazy or the introvert or the creative or the organized side of me. It doesn’t allow me to flourish into the woman I dreamed of becoming. It molds me and shapes into someone completely different and if I am bold enough to say someone much braver, much stronger and much more loving. Someone better than I would be on that beautiful quiet island of my own dreams I thought I would become.
But what do we do on those days the hurricane is raging? Where do we find a life raft? Suggestions and advice offer long term help, they offer change in discipline or routine with the hope of changed reactions, less chaos and more “yes mommy” answers. But on days like today that advice, that wisdom is a tidal wave that crashes over me as I hear “do more, be stronger, work harder.” That’s what drowning feels like…grasping for a rope, reaching for a life vest, desperately sucking in air without any relief.
I have a hard time playing “bad cop.” Their ideas make sense, they problem solve well and so I give. I allow them to run the show because truthfully I am so tired that I gratefully relinquish all power. I’m worn down from listening to them cry over not having their blankie, I am exhausted by saying “no” to the same thing on repeat for hours that turn into days that have now turned into years because they have learned I eventually cave. I’m convinced I will never go potty alone or think for three minutes in quiet because I put people back in their room twelve times during rest time.
Is this what discipline looks like, hard love? Continuing to say “no” and train no matter what their reaction? Whether they follow the rules, use polite words or agree with me I make the right choice. My discipline doesn’t dictate their behavior and their behavior shouldn’t dictate my emotions. But it does. It wears me down, it leaves me feeling battered and bruised from a fight with three little people I love most in this world and am disappointed because our play time is interrupted by whining, arguing, poopy diapers, their variety of opinions and differing needs.
I worry that being honest, confessing my weakness I will never be nominated for best mother of the year. I stress about being judged for being too soft, for giving in, for creating children who think the world revolves around them and their opinion and their every emotion dictating the day. That is the opposite of what I am trying to raise my kids to be but in my desire to love and my struggle to discipline I worry I created the storm and if I don’t have a break, some quiet moments of order and release of creativity this storm might swallow me.
I think this is a feeling only mothers relate to. This desire to love someone so well that we might die in the process. The laying down of our dreams, pleasure, and physical comfort for someone who doesn’t understand the sacrifice we make and continues to ask for more. And so I think that we have to reach out to other mothers to ask for help, to ask for encouragement, to cry on each other’s shoulders, to remind each other we are not alone for there is a tribe of women who has gone before us and survived. There are generations of children who love well, invent, create, and work hard.
So as the waves crash over me and I gasp for air I am calling out to you to tell you “you are not alone either” and you do not have to prove to anyone that you are efficient, capable or patient at every exhausting moment of the day.