motherhood. a short story.

I was determined not to let 2020 pass without adding something to this space. It’s been a year and a half and I had to reset my password and do a little refresher course on even using this platform. Last summer (July of 2019 to be exact) I was apologizing for dropping off the face of the internet world and blamed it on life getting busy. Occupying all my free time + mental capacity. Really, the only thing that’s different this time around, is that I’m not apologizing for my absence. This past year was heavy + weird for everyone in some way, our family no different. The biggest take away for me was how utterly terrible I am at time management. Three kids home full time and then a loving husband home for 8 months made me realize how much I depend on the time that said husband is away at work and two of said children are at school. That time is sacred to recharge in ways that require most everyone to leave me alone. Ha.

All of this is leading up to a tangent on motherhood. I bounce ideas around constantly on what I should write about. Not sure why I put so much pressure on this little pet project. It’s really just for fun. A digital journal for myself. There’s not a lot I’m an expert on (actually I don’t think I’m an expert on anything) but I’ve had a crack at motherhood for a decade now, so it’s at the very least an area I have a lot of material on.

I told my sister in law the other day that I should treat parenting like a job. A real -set an alarm, take a shower and get dressed and realize that I won’t accomplish any of my personal tasks until I “clock out” for the day- job, which if you are new here- that’s actually NEVER. You never clock out, but break begins after bedtime. If you are lucky. We still have a guy that likes to burn the midnight oil with us.

Another conversation with a different sister in law centered around self worth as a mother. Why is it so hard for us to see the value in the “work” that we do? Endlessly racking my brain (for what feels like years now) over what ELSE I can add to my plate to add purpose. Usually that thought process always ends up being about monetary gain- what can I do, aside from keeping humans alive- that will help pay the bills? There is no immediate need for me to financially support us, but I think it’s just one more thing I feel guilty about. I worked for years at dead end jobs and imagined what it would feel like to be home full time. It was never even on my radar until I was pregnant with Hayden (at 25 and having barely stepped foot in the work force) and it became not only on my radar but a plane ticket to Alaska. Hayden was 3 months old when I gave away most of my stuff and moved here to start a new relationship. A couple actually. A romantic relationship and a relationship with my daughter as a stay at home parent. What am I trying to prove? Who do I need to prove it to? Am I looking for a deeper meaning to my life to make up for the fact I didn’t go to college or choose a career path? Like that somehow would make me more significant?

Most days it’s a blessing and a curse all wrapped into one. It’s not even fathomable to me at this point to think about leaving them every day. I’ve spent the last decade being wrapped up in their every move. I have yet to master the art of my identity without them needing me every second. It’s simultaneously a gift, and self doubt that plays on a never ending loop in my mind. It’s the feeling that I’m someone meaningful, shaping three souls that will one day go out into the world on their own and contribute to society, but also constantly feeling like a dud. I struggle to help my 4th grader with her math. My kids are fluent in swear words. Bedtimes have never been strict and screen time is 100% a babysitter some days. There is no adventure school happening and the idea of homeschooling them full time is frightful. Social media usually adds to the anxiety of never measuring up. Tiny squares of aesthetically pleasing photos of mothers and their children with cute outfits doing crafts together. I share all this not as an invitation for my pity party- but because I miss the part where I don’t share these thoughts in a tiny caption and look at how many likes it gets. And for those that write captions so long you have to say- more in comments- I’m don’t read those. Nobody got time for that.

I forgot that sitting down to write a blog post didn’t lead me to endlessly scroll through a feed. My neck isn’t sore from being bent over staring at a tiny screen. Words flow faster on an actual keyboard. I used to spend time learning about my camera and editing. Now most photos sit in a folder labeled VSCO. If I’ve lost you at this point- this all circles back to self worth. Learning the balance of the pieces that are uniquely me and the pieces that make me a mother and wife. Not just a mother. Not just a wife. Just a homemaker. The word JUST creeps up in my vocabulary often. When asked what I do. When asked how my day was. When asked what I’ve been up to lately. I’m JUST a stay at home mom. Today was JUST the usual- nothing special. I’ve JUST been at home with the kids, ya know- same ol, same ol. I hear myself saying it and cringe. A response I can’t seem to shake. It’s not lost on me that this is a literal dream to many people.

My question is (talking to myself here folks): what needs to change in order for me to see that motherhood makes us more than worthy? Is there some form of meditation that can help with this? Because when you start making a list- motherhood is very similar to any other job. I’ve had plenty of stressful work environments, this being no different. Who do I file a complaint to when I find a used bandaid next to my scrambled eggs? There’s no clocking out at the end of a shift, in fact bathroom breaks aren’t even a guarantee of free time. No promotions or paid time off. Health benefits include someone sneezing directly into your eyes and mouth. We beat ourselves up and cry in the shower when we make mistakes and on top of it, take time for yourself and your libido when you get the chance because child birth doesn’t do your hormones any favors. Hayden and I recently binged the Hunger Games and I chuckled often. Three kids later and my fluctuating moods and hormones often feel like one of the games. Oh, you’re already exhausted from barely surviving the day? Here’s some acid rain and a tidal wave.

I think this is what’s labeled as “real life” on social media, sharing the not so pretty details. But really this is a post for solidarity- a shout out to all you mamas and more of a message in a bottle to myself. So that years from now when I go back through old blog posts, I’ll read this and be reminded that I’ve always been doing the work. I’m guessing by then I’ll have forgotten whatever hard phase we were struggling with. I know it’s valuable work. Respected work. Treasured. Appreciated. There isn’t a paycheck that comes with it, but I fully intend on cashing out when I’m old and grey and my kids repay me by showing me how to use my new cell phone.

Goodbye 2020, and cheers to all you mamas in the vortex of raising tiny humans. See you next year! > insert peace sign emoji <

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