These words echo in my head…not towards my children; when they are hurt, sad, angry, or tired they climb up in my lap for the fourty-second time and I enjoy all the cuddles! But, when I am hurt, sad, angry or tired I am not so encouraging and comforting.
“Suck it up…there is too much to do”
“Suck it up…it is not that bad”
“Suck it up…they really do love you”
The noise in our house starts before breakfast. At this point it is typically laughter, giggling over climbing into siblings bed to read a book before the sun comes up. The noise grows steadily so that by the time we are downstairs for breakfast it is a whining sound because a brother took a baby doll or the sister got her milk in the blue cup they wanted. My body wants darkness and quiet, a slow rousing that it is not allowed. “Suck it up” I hear in my head, whispering reasons this noise is normal, expected or acceptable to calm myself down and turn with a smile to deliver eggs.
I suck up the fact that the house is messy, that getting quiet feels impossible, that arguing kids come with the territory. I stop fighting. I let all the frustration consume me so that I am trapped and unable to accept help that is offered. I turn on robot mommy…you know, the one who knows how to tickle, read books, make pb& j, do school pick-ups and homework and dinner all with a smile on her face but is only thinking about the glass of wine at the end of the day? The one who is constantly busy but rarely engaged. That mom has sucked it up so much she has lost herself.
But, our kids need US. They need to see us dream so they know it is not silly to shoot for the moon. They need to see us cry so they learn how to comfort. They need to hear us apologize for yelling so they know how to forgive. They need to learn how to help when we can’t do everything, they need to learn they can’t do everything either. They don’t need us to be superwoman: the mommy who feels nothing and does everything! That is who I try to be. That is who I am lots of days. The tired mommy who feels like a puddle of goo inside but keeps on going pretending nothing is wrong.
But, something is wrong. When I finally admit that, things can start to change. My heart can heal, they can grow and we can all experience joy together again. When I open the flood gates and let myself cry, admit I have been hurt or disappointed I can start to feel again. When I don’t show them the “perfect” mom but I show them the real mom, I allow them to love me and see me and I break the picture perfect image we all think every other mom is. That image doesn’t help.
So tonight I’m going to make milkshakes for dinner and suck those up. I’m not going to worry about the nutrition for one meal…because it is one meal. I am going to overwhelm myself with the beauty of my kids, the warmth of my house, and the snuggles they will freely give so that when it is quiet I can let it all go. Let the hurt and the frustration and the unfulfilled dreams pour out. So I can talk about them, and be honest about them because as I stuff them down, ignore them and hope they go away they in fact don’t.