If you were to make a montage of the daydreams which run through the head of the average aspiring mom, you’d likely have a reel filled with women peacefully rocking sleeping newborns, pushing their tots on the swing at the playground, or baking cookies, their toddlers looking on contentedly licking the spoon. You’d see them snapping pictures of chubby babies in pumpkin patches and chasing after their rain boot clad little boy as he hopped in every mud puddle. At least that’s the montage that formed in my head from the days of baby dolls and make believe to the moment they laid Anders in my arms.
Oddly absent were the scenes like this one in which I find myself standing in the kitchen at 6 A.M., sink full of dirty dishes, one child on my hip squealing, the other screaming they don’t want milk they want juice, while I reread an email from my boss for the tenth time trying to find meaning in the blurry symbols on the screen. Did I mention I didn’t manage to completely clean breakfast off the hands of the baby on my hip and she now has kindly wiped them off in my hair? No mind, now it matches my shirt which the kid on the floor just wiped his runny nose on and besides who really cares when you haven’t had time to shower since Wednesday? Wednesday, right? What’s today again? Make that Tuesday…I think.
I’m trying to read that email for the eleventh time when a foghorn goes off and breaks my concentration again. That’s not a foghorn. It’s the deafening sound the dryer makes when the clothes are ready. It’s not enough that you’ll spend the next 15 minutes folding and putting away laundry. You first must be punished with this sound. I put the little one on the kitchen floor and head that way, both of them barrel after me screeching, I catch sight of my reflection in the bathroom mirror as I pass and pause. I am in desperate need of a cut and color, I think, but it is a fleeting thought as the little one hurdles through my legs and into the bathroom. Maybe this is the time she can unroll the entire toilet paper roll uninterrupted. I scoop her up and close the bathroom door behind us. Plot foiled again. More angry screeching.
I manage to fold the laundry while intermittently stopping to pull one child out of the dryer and answering a serious of rapid fire questions about how soap is manufactured for the other. Then, I set to replying to that email while the little one headbangs my keyboard, coating my keys in slobber in the process.
In this moment I am overwhelmed. I look at the clock and calculate 7 hours and 46 minutes until my husband will arrive home which, in that moment, equates roughly to eternity. I imagine myself rising calmly from the couch, slipping on my shoes, grabbing my keys and driving away. I drive to the nearest hotel and rent a room and tell no one where I’ve gone. I climb into the bed there, one I won’t have to make with sheets I’m not responsible for washing, and I sleep for days and days only waking to watch Lifetime movies and order take out in between drifting off again.
It’s a thought I never knew I would have in a scene I never anticipated finding myself in. It’s one I feel immense guilt for, but in the end it is just that, a thought and like most mother’s, my thoughts pass through a “what’s best for my child” filter before I allow them to actualize. And so, I pull them up onto the sofa with me, I write my email, I wipe their noses and the keyboard and with a little patience and a little caffeine we make it through.
Motherhood is certainly not the water-colored daydream of my youth. It’s sharp, it’s loud, it is more exhausting than I imagined it would be, but it is indescribably, unfathomably, monumentally more worth it than I ever conceived it could be. And it is here that I digress partially because I am beginning to spout parenting cliches, but mostly because I really, really need that shower.