This morning, my husband set the alarm for us on our “snow day” so we could get an early and productive start.
But at precisely 4:30 am, the baby proved that alarm clocks are simply not necessary when one is a parent and jolted us awake with some blood-curdling, slightly mucusy crying. As I settled into the rocking chair to nurse her, my husband tiptoed out the door to his workshop and I gave him a halfhearted nod in passing.
I finished feeding my daughter, nestled her slowly back down on the bed, snuck downstairs, and then raced to set up my work day essentials: lap-top, cup of coffee, giant blanket because it was -25 degrees (for real), and a hefty dose of Keeping Up With The Kardashians as my background noise. And just as I settled down …
Tell me you know what’s coming, right?
I’ve often proclaimed that my kids have some built-in mom productivity radar that goes off the moment I am attempting to do anything non-mothering related. Without fail, each and every time I try to get up early, they will thwart all of my good intentions. Maybe it’s the sound of the coffee maker that wrestles them from slumber or maybe it’s the nervous energy my body radiates as I tremble with the anticipation of actual alone time. I don’t know. But whatever it is, it always happens. And this morning was no exception.
The baby was up. And there was no going back down.
By the time my husband waltzed in the door shortly before lunch time, recharged with that special brand of sparkle that comes from a job well done, I had already fed the kids a giant breakfast (including homemade waffles), cleaned the kitchen, done two loads of laundry, gotten everyone dressed and ready, tackled toddler toilet duty (really, don’t ask), nursed the baby, changed a diaper blowout, and was preparing to lay the baby down for another attempt at sleep.
His cheerful whistle died on his lips when he saw my face and yes, I do feel a little bit badly about that, okay?
But here’s the thing — lately, it seems like everything in my life is a struggle. I’m not talking about the big things, the things that should matter like health and wealth and a roof over our heads, you know the type of stuff I should be focusing on. I’m talking about the minute-to-minute, day-to-day stuff of life.
Like how no matter how hard I try, I can never, ever seem to get dressed in the morning. And even if I do, there will be at least two outfit changes by the end of the day due to spit-up, throw-up, or some other form of bodily fluid upon my person, so really what is the point of even making an effort?
I don’t know what exactly the problem is lately, but I feel like I’m treading not water, but more like a dull, thick clay. It’s as though I’m endlessly trudging through and not making any real strides, but I’m not exactly standing still either.
In my mind, it feels like every other mother on earth, even the ones with four kids, (which totally puts my “but I have four!” excuse to shame) seems to be back in shape and on one “adventure” after another with their families. Meanwhile, I’m over here just dreading each and every meal time because it means someone will inevitably be spilling their entire drink everywhere the moment I sit down and sometimes I just can’t help but let that sigh leave my lips, you know?
In this job of mothering, it’s hard not to get bogged down when every part of our days and nights feels like a struggle. There is no rest for the weary, because even at night, I go to bed wondering how long I will get to sleep before I am awakened again.
Each day feels like one long battle to do the most basic of things, because cooking breakfast for the big kids means simultaneously holding and entertaining the baby, dropping everything and sprinting when the toddler announces he’s “got to go potty so bad,” strategizing using the bathroom at the optimum moment when everyone is most likely to be happy for more than 40 seconds, and mapping out trips up and down the stairs so as to maximize efficiency.
Nothing is done during the day without also thinking of 4,594 other things and I will be completely honest — sometimes I just want to be able to get dressed, cook a meal, put a kid to bed, or sit down to dinner without it being a long, drawn-out battle. It seems like it should be so simple. But it’s not.
Motherhood is constant and wearying in a way that feels impossible to understand and even more so, produces no visible results for the man who walks in the door at the end of the night not quite sure what haggard version of his wife will be there to greet him.
I guess I feel like I should end these cheery words with some sort of uplifting and inspirational message in parting, something like, the days are long, but the years are short and motherhood is the very best thing I will ever do.
And while I would agree with both of those tried and true statements, I will just say — that today, for me, the struggle is real.