This year marks my sixth year of motherhood.
And what feels like an entire world away, three of my closest friends are celebrating their first weeks. Three perfect little boys. And by perfect I mean healthy, very needy little creatures that cry at all hours of the day and night.
When I talked with each of them my heart ached a little bit. Not with longing for a newborn.
OH. HELL. NO.
It ached because those feelings are still so vivid and raw inside my body. The fear, the exhaustion, the desperation. Also the love, but it can be hard to hold on to that when you’re healing stitches in your vag or sitting in Epsom salts trying to soothe a golf-ball size hemorrhoid.
Seeing people I love go through new motherhood brought all those feelings back, and I wanted to say “Hold on, it gets better.” But I didn’t.
Because I cried last week, at 8am at my bathroom sink after I had to spit out my mouthwash for the third time to persuade the girls to stop hitting each other, and answer Lucy’s question about where the tag goes on her underwear. I was just trying to swish for 60 seconds.
But I never make it because our mornings are an avalanche of “mom, mom, mom, mommy, MOM!”
Lucy hit me!
Where are my socks?
Why can’t I wear my leotard?
I HATE these pants.
I have to go potty.
I need you.
I want you.
I wake up to this at 630am, usually after 8 solid hours of sleep. So that part gets better. But the onslaught is still overwhelming.
After six years, I’m used to it. I never make it to 60 seconds with the mouthwash – never have. It’s just another day. But it’s just another day where I’m worried I might break. That I might lose my cool and then just get into my car and leave.
I’m worried I’ll say something that I regret. That they’ll repeat. I’m worried I’ll be late to work. Let someone down. Forget the swimmies for camp, or the sunscreen. I’m worried I’m doing it wrong and I’m breaking them.
Granted, my days of worrying about physically breaking them are over. There is no more nursing, or tummy time, or letting them roll off the couch. But these days I lay in bed and wonder if I’ve broken their spirits.
Or worse, that I haven’t, and I’m raising entitled assholes.
Last week, I barely made it out of the house. I didn’t make it anywhere on time. And I yelled at Mia at the top of my lungs to PUT HER GODDAMN PANTS ON RIGHT FUCKING NOW after thirty something minutes of a softer approach. She will probably repeat it at summer camp and the teenage counselors will stare at her wide eyed and judge me. Or not.
But in that moment I felt exhausted. Defeated. Fearful. Overwhelmed. I felt all of the same feelings that I felt when Mia was first born, even though now she is six.
And then I came home from work and she was bursting with excitement to tell me about her day. They went swimming and golfing and read books at the library. It was AWESOME. Lucy is eager, too, as she grabs my hand and leads me to the couch. “Mom!” she says, “I just want you to cuddle me.”
They both smell like chlorine and sunscreen and their cheeks are rosy with sun. My heart feels like it might burst because I love them so much, so hard. I created these people. Real people. Full of life and hope and excitement. Nothing compares to it. To being their mom.
So I won’t tell you it gets better. It just gets different.
There will be days with more sleep, and fewer diapers. Less rest and louder tantrums. Probably a similar amount of whining and crying.
It will feel doable, wonderful on some days. Impossible on others.
Your heart will swell with pride – at their first step, first word, first bus ride to school. And it will pound in your chest as you talk yourself off the ledge, for the fifth time in an hour, as they scream incessantly about some inexplicable injustice.
It’s true that a lot changes in six years. But so much stays the same.
And no, you still won’t want to trade it for the world.