The Manic & Magic of Motherhood

Friday, February 08, 2019

Let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will move mountains - or cause her Mother to lose her mind - either way, let her sleep.

Being a mom is the greatest thing I have ever done. It is also the hardest. Much harder than I anticipated. How two little children can be, and rule, my world all at the same time astonishes me.

I don’t think we share enough about the trenches of parenthood. At least I know that I don't. I worry about what people will think. But the truth is that I find parenting extremely challenging at times. I've lost my temper much too quickly and have screamed at my children when they didn't listen. I've sat crying on the floor just trying to get two little feet into two little shoes. I’ve wanted to bang my head against the wall after my child gets out of bed for the zillonth time. Parenting is hard.

"Motherhood is tough. If you just want a wonderful little creature to love, you can get a puppy." - Barbara Walters

Recently here in Chiberia, I mean Chicago, we lived through the polar vortex. And nothing tested my mothering like Mother Nature. Before kids, being forced to stay indoors cuddled up and working from home in pjs would have been a dream. With kids, it was more like a nightmare.

Let me tell you, after spending three straight days trapped inside with two little monsters, there was nothing I looked forward to each day more than bedtime.

The "experts" say you need to have a routine to help children go to bed. Well, we have an entire routine; a well-rehearsed set of actions to get these small humans to do something as elemental as sleep. The problem with a routine is that even though the routine never changes, our kids constantly do. So sometimes the routine works and sometimes it doesn't. What is usually always routine these days: I'm exhausted just trying to get my kids to sleep.

Bedtime usually starts with me saying something along the lines of, "You have until the count of three to get upstairs and start getting ready for bed."

Don't ask me what happens at three, I always forget to say the consequence before I start counting. Why does parenting require so much pre-planning? I don't have the mental capacity for that after working all day.

The next battle is a bath, which usually turns into a water fight but at least they get clean, and bonus - so do the floors! Then it's on to brushing teeth.

"If you don't brush your teeth, they'll fall out." They're going to fall out regardless, but it still feels like a valid threat. Threats and bribery are probably too common in our house.

“If our kids only expect blessings and exemptions, they will be terrible grown-ups.” — Jen Hatmaker, For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards

Finally, we try to have a nice family cuddle in bed while reading a story. (Sometimes we cuddle, sometimes books are thrown at each others' heads).

After getting one child successfully to sleep, the other one is jumping in his crib and throwing everything out of it. He reaches out to me saying, "more rock," which means he wants me to cuddle him in the rocking chair and sing songs.

This is where "the days are long but the years are short" phrase hits me especially hard. I love these cuddles with him; I truly treasure them, but somedays I am just. so. stinking. tired! Like days when we're all trapped inside due to the deathly cold weather, and I'm trying desperately to hide the shrieks of my children as I'm on a conference call. These are the days that I'm exhausted physically and then mentally as I feel guilty for not savoring each and every cuddle, because I know that they'll be gone before I'm ready.

“One thing about having a baby is that each step of the way you simply cannot imagine loving him any more than you already do, because you are bursting with love, loving as much as you are humanly capable of—and then you do, you love him even more.” — Anne Lamott

Finally, both kids are asleep and we're headed downstairs - alone, with the quiet!

It doesn't feel like more than two minutes have gone by before we hear the sweet but dreaded sound of tiny footsteps sneaking down the hallway. Our daughter will get out of bed with one excuse after another, either it's too light or too dark; she hears a strange sound under her bed; she has to go to the bathroom or would like a glass of water. She has an arsenal of excuses ready for why she can't go to sleep.

“All the kids from day care are in dreamland. The froggie has made his last leap. Hell no, you can’t go to the bathroom. You know where you can go? The f**k to sleep." ― Adam Mansbach, Go the F**k to Sleep

I try to be patient and help her back to bed, but I am embarrassed to say that there have been nights where we have resorted to just closing the bedroom door and holding it shut as she yells on the other side. Not our finest parenting moments.

But then there are the nights where all she'll need to go to sleep is one last hug. Heart melted.

Some days I have to look extra hard to find the joy in parenthood, and honestly, some days I don't find it at all. Some days, I am positive that I have done everything wrong.

“I don’t know what’s more exhausting about parenting: the getting up early, or acting like you know what you’re doing.” — Jim Gaffigan

If you find yourself in the trenches of parenthood, know that you are not alone. Parenthood can be the best, and the worst, all at the same time. It can be the small things that make me want to scream at the top of my lungs, but it is also the small things that make everything else in the world pale in comparison to the love I feel for these tiny little humans.

And the absolute truth is, there is no currency or parenting book advice that will ever be worth more than a parent's love. So hang in there on the days where it feels like you're doing everything wrong. You're not alone and you're doing a better job than you realize.

And tomorrow is a new day after all, even if it starts before dawn these days.

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