I sometimes imagine parenthood is a bit like being a pro-athlete (I have clearly listened to “The Champion” by Carrie and Ludacris too many times). The practice is intense, soul-crushing, and completely exhausting but if you do your job right you will see that the blood, sweat, and tears immensely pays off. You will experience many moments of pride (the playoffs), make it to graduation (the Super Bowl), and see your child get married and have children of their own and reap all those beautiful benefits (retirement). If you do your job well you may even be considered for MVP. However, I also imagine pro-athletics (much like parenthood) entails an immense amount of pressure. If you take your eyes off the ball for one minute, if you falter or crack under that weight, if you miss a pass by an inch, total chaos ensues. It is all eyes on you at all times to get this right and if you don’t the world will know. Which leads us to the current situation…for the first time since adding the fourth member to our little clan, I lost it. Not the “momentarily lost it and regained it before anyone could notice”. No that would be too easy. I mean the “all out sobbing oceans, screaming at the ceiling, and praying you regain it quickly” kind of lost it. I took my eyes off the ball and the chaos came at me like a 300 pound defensive tackle.
Let me lay it out for you…it’s Easter morning. The baby has been awake since 3 am. I finally decide to wake up my husband at 6 am. I lay down and doze off in time for the dogs to start barking and wake up the 3 year old. Time to see what the Easter bunny brought. We do all the things – the gifts, the eggs, the toys. I smile and laugh with my child doing all that a mom is suppose to do. I proceed to make sure everyone is showered and dressed, pack the bags, feed the baby, and finally decide it’s time to get myself ready (yay!). I let myself (naively) believe I could eat breakfast, shower, get dressed, put on fake eyelashes, do my makeup and hair all without a hitch (ha mama!).
Breakfast easily got overlooked, I showered but didn’t wash my hair (love me some dry shampoo) because there wasn’t enough time to dry it, and moved on to makeup and eyelashes. Now to give you the background I have been practicing these eyelashes for weeks. They are something I decided to do that make me feel better about myself, a little something for me. I was doing said eyelashes when the toddler brought me water and pancakes from his new kitchen which I graciously ate (between lashes) and set on the counter. He immediately decided watching me was more fun. He bounced on my arm, bumped me, asked a million questions about the glue and finally after four attempts I decided that was enough. At that moment my head was throbbing from lack of sleep and my patience was wondering why I can’t have five flipping minutes in the bathroom alone. I had yet to do my hair and my husband had already put the baby in his carrier because everyone else is ready long before I am (see above where mom gets everyone ready first). I walked in the bedroom, ripped off the shirt I was already feeling bad about (insert 7 week postpartum self-esteem issues), and sat on my bed and cried like a small child coming down from a tantrum. In that moment the weight of maintaining a family, which often feels effortless to carry, was so much more than I could bear.
Now don’t feel too bad for me. My husband came in and offered me the best pep talk his male-self could come up with at the time. He told me I was beautiful, strong, and needed to focus. He surprised me when he asked, “What do you need right now, in this moment?” Of course I shot back some endless unrealistic list (sleep, food, time to myself). He said okay, stay home and do that. Not even an option. I couldn’t possibly miss Easter with my children. I was so focused on what went wrong in that moment that I missed what I truly wanted at the deepest part of my being – time with my babies. So I picked up the pieces, got dressed, and did my hair quickly. My husband turned on a song to which the words were all about being alright. My toddler pulled me to the floor, put his little hands on both sides of my face, and sang the few words he knew to me. I crumbled at the sweetness inside that child. Then I decided to throw out the eyelashes.
Currently, I am finishing up a whole bottle of wine and looking forward to sleep (I can almost taste it). But I am also reflecting on what the lesson is here…maybe it’s more self-care, maybe it’s less anxiety, maybe it’s a sleep schedule, maybe it’s more time at home cuddling with my babies and less activites, maybe it’s all of the above. I know you are waiting for me to wrap this up in a pretty bow with a wonderful life lesson but I don’t have that for you tonight friends. I am just a flawed human, sometimes a broken woman, often an irritable wife, and occasionally an impatient mother. Today I simply failed. I failed myself, my spouse, and my kiddos. Tomorrow I will do and be better. But tonight I drink, I sleep, and I pray that one of you reading this realize you are not alone.