Motherhood has bonded us with intimate “firsts”. We experienced the first time we thought we were pregnant, the first time (followed by the next 12 just to make sure) we took pregnancy tests and saw a plus sign, the first time our sisters swallowed hard and decided to put those adoption papers in, first flutters and kicks, the first time we realized our bodies and especially our boobs will never be the same, the first time we realized our kids were born with no hair or a full on mullet, the first time we realized that both our boobs worked when we were attempting to breastfeed our children, the first time we felt a contraction and thought, “Holy crap! They weren’t lying when they said you’d know it when you feel it!!”, or the first time our adoptive mommy friends first laid eyes on their kiddos and we watched the mama bear switch immediately flip on. I mean, guys, the list goes on and on. These are our battle scars binding us together like an army of wildlings waiting for attack. As a mother of three boys ages 12, 9 and 7, I recently realized that in a blink of an eye our home that use to be filled with baby toys and cabinet locks has turned into man cave with legos, continual sports games, and conversations about relationships, chivalry and how country music may or may not be an educational guide for life (i’m still not buying that one).
I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately and although I’m still in my 30’s with years to grow and navigate through the awkward spaces of middle school I wanted to let you know that in my experience unfortunately, motherhood doesn’t get easier. Not only does it not get easier, no one really knows what they're doing. It’s a crap shoot. I spent hours of my life trying to find the best way to get my kids to eat vegetables, sleep through the night, to keep their feet from stinking so badly from those God awful crocs that I hate but still buy because I don’t want to tie anyone’s shoes, figuring out how to have the least amount of germs in my house and which bottles to use. Most importantly, I realized that I had been doing this all while attempting to fit into a box that was incredibly uncomfortable and honestly very lonely. I looked like a champ though (with the exception of my mini van floor covered with cheerios and freeze dried yogurt melts) and at that point of my life, looking good mattered.
Something prompted me to write this letter and I’ll be honest, I went back and forth on whether or not to write it. I felt on some level one of my fellow warrior mothers might breeze through it and have some comfort knowing that we have all been chugging along on the Hot Mess Express that flies through our streets and neighborhoods like a neurotic and sleep deprived engine from Thomas the Train that only plays Caillou reruns. (come on, you know our kids love that show and we let them watch it even though it drives us crazy). With that said, I’m first asking for a celebratory gold star and a glass of wine. After seven years, my husband and I accomplished something a couple of weeks ago that was a game changer. Our seven year old, for the first time in his life, fell asleep on his own, in his own bed, reading books like he’d been doing it for years. That’s right gals, he’s freaking seven years old. Why so long you ask? Well, that’s easy, we like to sleep and we have stairs that neither of us want to continually walk up and down. It’s just that simple. After two other boys, we had a case of the “lazys”. No shame in our game.
Just for a bit of a history lesson on this kid, he’s shaken me like no other. I could tell in utero that he was going to be, ahem, very energetic like his mother but man...this kid taught me that I had no idea what I was doing. I remember pacing in my house with his brothers quietly watching Go, Diego Go trying to get him down for nap and I took a big swallow and called my sister in law, who at the time had just had her first daughter, and asked her for help. It was the best and worst feeling as a mother because I was admitting that I couldn’t do something I felt I should easily know how to do but at the same time, I was one step closer to figuring this kid out. Let’s be honest though, I was really one step closer to figuring myself out. She was my first warrior in my army of now many mothers who’ve taught me about life. I’ll never forget it. I think that call was my first step onto the slippery slope of relinquishing judgement on motherhood.
In my very little experience, it all works out. I’ve breastfed, and I haven’t breastfed. I got an epidural and i’ve had natural labor. I’ve used off brand, Target brand, and super expensive formula, news flash, they all still stick to the bottom of the damn bottle when we try to add the water to it. I’ve stuffed my kid’s with summer sno cones until their pooped accidentally turned bright blue and I’ve made all organic, no dairy, no grain, no GMO, no nut, no love only darkness, dry to the bone homemade ritz crackers. I’ve sat in doctor’s offices watching beautiful siblings weave leather moccasins together with their mother while my kids are sticking cheetos up their noses and they’re wearing a bicycle helmet and no shoes because I refused to fight the battle that day. It all works out. It doesn’t get easier, it just gets different and different is ok. My youngest taught me that.
So, as my husband and I sat on the couch together after realizing that after seven years we’d finally conquered bedtime, I sent a text to my sister in law and thanked her. She could have been judgy, God knows I had been so many times. She wasn’t though. Be honest and gentle with yourself. Be that for someone today because it’s not that we need someone else’s answers for our own children. Honestly, our Father has gifted us with gut instinct. It’s because I guarantee you that someone needs you to listen without judgement, especially that mom strolling around with four kids in target during the witching hour. They need you and you need them to see through the tired smiles and dirty dishes and sit by them on The Hot Mess Express. I’m still on it y'all and it ain’t stoping. We’re in this together, and I’ll be calling you when it hits the fan...again.
Your Warrior Sister, Danielle