It’s Mother’s Day, and I’m lying in bed. My husband told me to go rest while the girls were napping, so I figured I might as well allow myself some time alone. I am always tired, after all. I’m lying there with one eye open and one lamp still on because I can relax, but not completely. I’m a mom, after all.
Every few minutes, I’m convinced I hear one of the girls waking early from her nap. I wonder if my husband knows the baby needs to nap or stay in her crib a solid 1.5 hours before we get her. I think about the dirty dishes and the laundry.
I look at my phone and scroll through Instagram, slightly hurt that my two year old didn’t make a homemade card with scribbles and a tiny hand outlined in red crayon. Don’t be ridiculous, I tell myself.
I know she doesn’t understand the holiday. Still, she’s going through a phase where she prefers her daddy—her playmate—over me, and it’s breaking my heart. I tell myself it’s because I lose my temper. It’s because I’m too focused on the baby. It’s because I’m not as fun. I feel like I’m failing.
I’ll do better tomorrow.
I lie there wondering if it’s selfish of me to want to be alone on Mother’s Day. The truth is…I really need a break, and I feel guilty about that.
When Mom Gut Strikes
It’s a Tuesday morning, and I’m taking my girls on a walk before nap time. We walk out the front door, and I immediately notice an unfamiliar man walking the opposite direction on the sidewalk across the street. He looks pretty suspicious, wearing khaki pants, sunglasses, and a plain white cap. He’s moving at an oddly slow pace.
Who wears khakis on a walk when it’s 80 degrees outside?
I get that pit in my stomach. You know the one. The “mom gut.” It’s telling me I need to worry, but I keep walking and try to convince myself I’m being dramatic, as usual.
My mind goes a mile a minute, and I’m now imagining my family on some 60 Minutes special about the “totally normal young mother and children” who went missing one sunny day in Baton Rouge.
We reach the corner, and before we turn, I see the khaki-wearing man coming our way. I scoop up my toddler with one arm, push the stroller with the other, and walk as fast as possible back towards our home.
Call Me Crazy
Though the story continues, all that matters is we made it home safely. My hands were shaky, and I felt physically ill for the remainder of the day. My mind continued to race, and my Amazon cart quickly filled up with pepper spray.
The fears I had that day, and any time my instincts tell me something’s not right, are ones so many mothers have on a daily (or hourly) basis. I regularly play out situations in my mind that leave me feeling like a paranoid crazy woman, but that’s fine. Call me crazy. It’s important to me to feel confident I could protect my girls and potentially sacrifice my own life for their safety, if needed. The fact that so many things are beyond my control is absolutely the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to accept.
Gimme a Break
So, what does my Mother’s Day pity party have to do with our scary stroll and my irrational motherly fears?
It’s motherhood in a nutshell. Fear like that reminds me I’m not failing. It tells me I’m not crazy for needing a break — a break that has nothing to do with my precious girls but everything to do with the way I pour everything I have into my role as a mother.
Motherhood is needing a break and needing your babies as close to you as possible…all at the same time.
Some days, I feel like I have nothing to give. Some days, it might even be true. Regardless, I give what I have and promise myself I’ll do better tomorrow.
I’m Needed Here
For mothers, the concept of “taking a break” is a rather impossible one. I get in the shower to decompress, and while I might be alone, my c-section scar reminds me of all the responsibility waiting for me in the next room. I lie down for a rare nap and end up staring at the clock and thinking about all the things I should be doing. I dream up vacations alone with my husband in my mind but quickly come back to earth, where I’m breastfeeding a baby girl who won’t take a bottle.
I’m needed here. So, even while my toddler prefers her daddy, I’ll still make all her meals and cut off her crust. I’ll do her hair, and I’ll pick out her clothes. I’ll make homemade chalk paint and bake cookies. I’ll watch Daniel Tiger all day long and sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” whenever I’m told. I’ll use a British accent while we play Peppa Pig, and when she has an accident, I’ll tell her it happens to everyone.
I’ll order pepper spray and lose sleep over the khaki-wearing man. I’ll do that for her.
I’m a mom, and I’m needed here.
To the mama out there beating yourself up over a lost temper, frozen dinner, lack of motivation or irrational thought…
To the mama who needs a break but doesn’t want one…
To the mama who wants a break but doesn’t think she deserves it…
To the mama struggling today…