Before you’re a mom, people (usually older people) will say something like… ” You’ve never known love until you’ve held your child.”
And those of us who maybe had loved before being a mom would maybe snort (or plaster on a less-than-genuine smile) and think… “well, I sure didn’t marry my husband because I hated him.”
But then we become moms. And at some point, we stare at our child’s eyes and know that they — those people we don’t want to admit that they — were right.
That crazy eye-opening love moment may happen right after birth when your newborn is still covered in blood and vernix… But you’re convinced you didn’t really come alive until that moment. (Not the case with me by the way.)
Or maybe it’s the first time your child catches a cold and suddenly mama bear comes out and you realize your heart would be decimated if anything serious happened to your kid.
Or maybe it’s the first time that little person actually reciprocates the doting affection you’ve been slathering on since birth. The first kiss… Or the first “wuv you” they utter, gazing at your face with the deepest eyes you’ve ever seen.
(And for those of us who didn’t get to hold all our babies, it might happen at the first pee stick that says, “Congrats — you’re a momma.” Or the first kick. Or the first ultrasound.)
And it’s in those moments, we concede to the all-wise, all- knowing “told-ya-so-but-I-love-you-too-much-to-rub-it-in” people.
We really hadn’t understood love. But now we do.
(For those of you who are not moms yet, and think I might just be rubbing this in… Please hold on a bit, indulge me for a moment if you will, and read on. Please.)
But here’s the thing they don’t tell you. (i think it must be an accidental oversight or a true forgetfulness on their part. Or at least I like to believe so.)
The dirty, shameful secret that goes right along with the truth that so perfectly dripped from their nostalgic lips…
You’ve never really known frustration till you’re a mom. Or anger. Or hurt. Or sadness. Or embarrassment (HELLO embarrassment!)
The thing is… Loving and parenting a tiny little person somehow magnifies EVERYTHING in your heart. NOT JUST LOVE.
It’s not that you’ve never known love, or shame, or sadness, or joy. It’s just that you’ve yet to experience it under the grandiose magnifying lens known as parenting.
For example, frustration takes on a whole new meaning when you are fighting with your husband (after all, we don’t parent in a vaccuum) … And then you throw in a screaming toddler, just for fun.
Maybe screaming toddler isn’t just making a ear-piercing howl. Perhaps she’s flinging the nutritious meal you’ve so carefully thought through and prepared violently on to the floor—while continuing her soul-defying shrieks.
Perhaps said baby hasn’t napped in hours that day. Or weeks. Or worse (in my opinion) you FINALLY get her down, and she FINALLY falls asleep … And then some contractors outside start drilling a hole outside your baby’s window… and it’s rattling the entire house. And the screaming starts. Oh, the frustration.
And so it goes.
I’m sure I could come up with examples for every emotion… But I’ll spare you. (Besides, I don’t feel that creative right now.)
I have to say, the strong emotions (not just the lovey kind) have completely thrown me into a self- deprecating woman at times.
I was not prepared to ever feel something akin to hatred (even if just for a moment) toward my OWN kids. I had I had no idea that I (sweet little Rachel) was capable of such anger. Let me be clear … This is not anger directed at other’s kids on the playground for rejecting my daughter’s attempts to be friends. Or at other adults for giving me a dirty look when our little one throws a fit in public.
This is anger I feel at MY OWN KIDS.
It’a kind where wisdom finally pipes up and says, “hey lady. You need to put those kids in their rooms, and go take a breather before you say or do something you will regret.” the kind that reminds me “But for the grace of God, there go I.”
Maybe this is all too much to post considering I’m a foster parent in the middle of an adoption.
Maybe I keep referring to this as a universal problem because I so desperately want to know it’s. Not. Just. Me.
Maybe it is just me, and you all are wondering if I should up the dosage to my anti-depressant. (Maybe.)
But for me, I’m tired of pretending.
Pretending that little miss fills the hole in my heart that was left when my 3 other babies were gone too soon.
She doesn’t. That hole is still there. And to be honest, I’ve come to realize that filling my heart is a ridiculous expectation to put on a BABY. She can’t even fill up her own sippy cup. Why would I expect her to be able to satisfy the crazy longing in my soul?
I’m tired of pretending that I love my kids every second of every day. I’m tired of giving glowing reports to the social worker. I’m tired of pretending that being a mom fills me up … Because most days, it does the opposite.
I’m tired of pretending that I don’t mind listening to screaming and crying a few hours every day. Yes. I said hours. When little miss cries about something (being put down to walk, not getting food fast enough, etc.) she often chooses to continue to cry even when the need is met.
She will start crying for food… I’ll give her bite after bite… And she will sometimes cry through the entire meal.
She will follow behind me crying.cying.cying.crying all day some days.
And I’m done pretending. I really mind. I’m really feeling burned out.
Yesterday was one of those days. She just kept crying. Finally I sat her on the bed, which finally got her to be quiet. I know I shouldn’t have turned away to pull a sweater out of the closet… But I did.
And of course, she fell.
Naturally, she screamed bloody murder and I felt so guilty for turning away when I knew I shouldn’t have. (btw–you’ve never known guilt till you’re a mom.)
And so after assessing the damage (none) and calming her down, I placed her back on the floor to her chagrin. And so she starting screaming.
To which Maddy started screaming over her to get my attention. I told Maddy many times to stop. But she just kelt getting louder so I covered Maddy’s hand with my mouth, for which she kicked me.
Instant time out.
I rock little miss to sleep while maddy rages in the room next door.
One screaming child traded in for another.
Later in the day, I feel myself start to get frustrated and angry. I’m not sure when it started, or even why, but I became uptight mom who just wanted to yell at her kids for everything. I’d like to tell you I held back… But I didn’t always. And all day long I felt like a terrible, mean mom.
It takes me an hour and a half to corral the kids and everything we need to run all our errands (during which time I discover my adventurer crawling around on my dinner table.)
I finally had a chance to leave the house for an Arbonne party. Thank goodness for some adult time.
And shortly after getting home, I hear little miss screaming. (no, I want to revolt, “you are supposed to be asleep and NOT screaming!! I just want a minute to myself!!”)
I go into the dark room to pat her bottom to see if she was wet.. Yep… She was wet. And butt-naked. She managed to get out of her pantsuit and her diaper and pee all over the bed.
I cried when I rocked my freshly dressed baby and told her she deserved more. She deserved a mom that didn’t get so angry and resentful. She deserved someone who had more compassion. She deserved more love than I had in me to give.
And so we rocked that way for a long time. And then I cried the rest of the night.
For the first-time ever, it occurred to me that I don’t like this stage of life. That I’m ready for grown up kids, and I’m done with the whole baby/toddler/preschool thing.
And realizing that made me cry even harder.
The truth is…
You’ve never known shame till you’re a mom.