Any seasoned moms spontaneously combusting these days? Sometimes it seems motherhood is all about lying, yet the truths of being a mom seem to be the more difficult aspects of our lives.
Some lies you tell—Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, the park is closed today for Spring Cleaning.
Some lies you believe, or want to, initially—you’ll know what to do once you become a mom, you’ll teach your kids so much, and my favourite: it gets easier as they get older (spoiler alert: it doesn’t).
There are the lies your kids try to tell you—“No Mommy, I don’t know how red marker got scribbled on the white wall,” “Yes mama, I washed my hands after I wiped my bum,” “No mom, I didn’t hit my brother.”
But the lies are the easy part. It’s the truths of motherhood that can overwhelm us. The truths are what nobody warns you about before you’re a mom. The newborn nights that become days that become nights again before you realize an entire week has passed and you’re not sure when you last washed your body, let alone your hair. The word “sleep” ironically haunts you as you beg your kid to do so, desperate to catch a snooze yourself, while knowing it will never again be that nothing-can-wake-you rest you enjoyed before motherhood.
The truth of housekeeping hurts. You can kiss your clean home goodbye the minute you walk through the door with your first child. Oh sure, you regularly tell yourself lies about how you’re going to tidy up tomorrow, the next day or maybe even the next, if you just find a few spare moments. You see the mounting piles of laundry in almost every room and gathering dust bunnies (Flemish Giant rabbits in my house) as you try to find the energy to actually care, let alone clean and finish that never-ending laundry. When you do carve out a moment for housework, it’s only a lick and a half-true promise to do better next time because you’re too damned tired to care about quality at that point. Nobody’s coming over anyway, right?
One of the most shattering truths all mothers are forced to accept is the disappearance of privacy in the bathroom. Forget about escape in your own home, even temporarily. Silent bio-breaks? Showers in peace? Say farewell. At first you bring them in voluntarily to keep constant watch over them. Then the kids want to join you in the bathroom because they can’t bear a moment without you, and you agree because you know painfully well what they are capable of when you’re not looking. Then they want in the washroom because they’re full of curiosity and need to ask about everything: “What are those sticks, Mommy? Where do they go? Why does your pee-pee have a tail?” But it doesn’t end when they’re old enough to want their own bathroom privacy. The knock on the door still comes, just as you seat yourself, and their unapologetic tween or teen voice demands to know where that crucial lost item is, or what time dinner will be served or when you will be done because they need you to drive them somewhere. Five minutes alone on the toilet becomes a paradise.
Husband? Partner? Friends? Who has time for them? Even if you are fortunate enough to have a babysitter, you either are too exhausted to have any sort of adult fun, or you spend your social time discussing your children. Gone are the days of intellectual conversation about politics, careers, current events, or anything that isn’t hot parenting news.
Despite all of this, the biggest truth that hits you the moment you see your child for the first time and never leaves you even when they do, is that your heart is no longer safe and protected inside your ribcage. It’s walking around separate from your body, vulnerable to a world that is too often big and bad. It’s a sobering fear that no wine o’clock appointment can quell. Hearing them laugh becomes your reason for being. Their smiles light up your world. Their tears can crush your soul, especially if they were caused by your own tired irritability. It’s ok if that happens sometimes—we’ve all been there.
Motherhood swells with the truth of constant guilt and doubt, no matter how great a mother you are or how awesome your children seem to the world. Truth is, you adore them, but never quite shake the nagging worry you’re screwing it all up.
The fundamental truths of motherhood, despite all the lies we tell or want to believe? Motherhood is one of the most challenging endeavors we take on in our lives, but the payoff is spectacular when we push aside the negative and simply enjoy the humans we are cultivating.