Motherhood: The Best Days of My Life, Truth or Fiction?
While I was at my son’s soccer practice, my gaze fixed on his tiny body maneuvering down the field, a friend called to tell me she was expecting her first child.
“Congratulations!” I said, while swatting flies from my face, dripping in sweat under the Florida sun. I stood up to yell at my other son who drifted out of sight, but my thigh clung to the plastic of my folding chair, and the sound echoed across the field as I rose. “Being a parent is the most amazing feeling in the world. These have been the best days of my life,” I continued, as I jerked my head motioning for my son to head back towards me. He looked right at me but shrugged and kept wandering.
I repeated the latter part, the best days of my life, my conscience processing the words. “Thank you. That’s so wonderful to hear,” my friend responded. But as I ran across the soccer field to chase my son, I wondered if I was being truthful. Have these been the best days of my life? Five minutes before arriving at the soccer field, I screamed so loudly at my daughter to stop flicking her brother that my voice remains hoarse. After two hours of waiting in carline at two different schools, selected to accommodate each of my children’s different needs, I then headed home to oversee unpacking lunches, reviewing homework, repacking lunches, making dinner, cleaning the dishes, and packing for soccer, all the while refereeing various games of “he’s not touching me” and having to explain why “fairness” wasn’t a word I ever wanted to hear again. Drenched in fatigue, I finally sat once at the field, only to review school forms on my phone while fitting in this personal call, and somehow, I was telling this new mom to be that these are "the best days of my life”?
Had the rest of my life been so uneventful that suddenly being called upon 24-7 to assist three growing humans somehow fulfilled me? Was I masochistic or just delusional? After completing my nightly tasks and collapsing into a ball on my bed, where I noticed a Pokémon sticker stamped on my forehead, I thought this isn’t amazing at all. This is hard and depressing. Why do I pretend I love it and that other women will love it? Why do we all feel the need to tell other women that this experience, where you will spend the next 18 years unable to pee alone (ever) is magical and wonderful?
My body split in two from birthing my son’s 100th percentile head, blood poured out of me when I first stood after the delivery, my breasts became so engorged they felt like rocks and my newborn wouldn’t latch, but still people came in that room and told me these were the most “magical” days of my life and to remember every precious moment. I had just pushed for 3 excruciating hours, labored for 28 hours, hadn’t slept in 36, but I felt like I couldn’t acknowledge any of that. With my second son in particular, who woke every two hours for six weeks straight, I became self-conscious that I felt so overwhelmed. Other women enjoyed this so much. How could I feel otherwise? Either these people were liars or I was somehow failing as a parent. But here I am propagating that same myth, that parenthood is some euphoric out of body experience, instead of being honest—although parenthood is the best time of your life, it is also the hardest part of your life.
The truth is motherhood consumes so much of my mental energy. My mind throbs with the lists of tasks I need to do to make sure my little humans stay on course, graduate high school, and become productive citizens. Not to mention trying to ensure they stay safe from the evils of social media and just the evils of the world in general. Yet, despite all of this, for every fight I referee, there’s that moment of joy that rushes through my body when my sons smile or when my daughter reaches out and hugs me and tells me no one will ever love me like she loves me. For every ounce of crazy, they provide me pounds of reassurance and hope.
It defies all logic that I love motherhood so much, even though most days I feel defeated and deflated, but somehow when they wrap their little arms around me, all the rest fades away. You will love your children with an unconditional relentless love, even though loving them sometimes drains you of the ability to love and care for myself. The give and take, the push and pull of motherhood draws you in and never lets you go. It is the most inappropriately co-dependent relationship you will ever have.
So, if you are new to motherhood—it is okay if sometimes you don’t enjoy every minute. Everyone is struggling, sometimes people just don’t admit it. Take time for yourself, carve out moments to preserve you and your identity. You are the most important piece in the puzzle holding your family together. They need you to take care of you. These might be the best days of your life, but they all won’t be the best. And they certainly won’t be the easiest. Some might even be your worst. But, trust me, it is so worth it. I mean if you are into not having personal space for the rest of your life. Peeing alone is so overrated.