There is kind of a perfect storm that happens when we are raising little children. They need us. A lot. It seems never-ending sometimes. Particularly if they don’t sleep well. And our partners need us. And the list goes on, and we forget that we need us too. We need ourselves. And one day we suddenly realize it’s been a long time since anything was about our selves or for ourselves. And that feeling can be very stifling. Waiting that long means this has become “normal” to everyone around us, and we may encounter some pushback when we try to make changes. Which makes us angry, because we are feeling so suffocated that any resistance to change feels like our families want us to suffocate. Like they don’t care that we can’t BREATHE.
It’s hard for us, as moms, to put aside the scrolling To Do list in our brains. The one that reads like a list of Things You Suck At Because They Are Not Done. If we do manage to ignore them, we feel like they punish us later, like a hangover the day after a night of partying a little too hard. So we skip the things we need for ourselves. I know moms who regularly miss meals. Miss showers. Moms who have forgotten what it feels like to dress up. To wear shoes that aren’t sensible. I applaud moms who attend scrapbooking seminars, who turn hobbies into part time jobs so they can cover the cost of childcare, and moms who get up early for some alone time.
But this is difficult. Because the needs are always there, like water coming through the hole in the dyke. And it gets harder and harder to keep your finger over the hole, sometimes. So we talk about “doing the work.” We talk about love being something we do, not something we feel. We feel frustrated and angry and smothered and alone. We feel very, very alone, sometimes. When we are awake at some ridiculous hour of the night and we can’t get back to sleep in our quiet houses and we feel absolutely lousy because we are so tired but we can’t sleep, we feel alone. And that alone feeling blinds us to the other things that are going on at the same time. The colors. The beauty. The order that is coming out of chaos every day as our children grow. The fact that no matter how prosaic things look, they keep on being beautiful, too. It’s hard, through that tired, smothered haze to remember that these things are also impossibly beautiful.
I wish I was one of those smug mommies who think they have answers for you. I don’t. All I can say is that I’ll watch for the sun with you. It comes out, sometimes, even when things feel like a grind. Spring comes and the rain doesn’t stop, but at least it’s a warm rain. And you still have your finger in that dyke, but the warm rain has brought your friends out with their colorful umbrellas. And they will laugh with you. Pour you some wine. Hand you a cookie or a diaper or a wipe and laugh about how you never finish a sentence anymore because they get it. I don’t have any answers. I don’t have any advice, but I do know I treasure my Joy Makin’ Mamas more than I would ever have believed possible. Without all of you, I would be alone. But I’m not. So it feels like the sun comes out really an awful lot, and I am grateful.
And if you feel alone, please come have wine with us. We’ll sit with you, and watch for the sun.