More Than A Little Spilled Milk
I’m gonna backhand (or at least IMAGINE backhanding) the next person who tells me some variation of, “You’ll miss the chaos” or, “This is the best time of your life”. When you’re in the trenches you aren’t thinking about down the line. You can only think about surviving the right now. And right now, this is hard. I don’t want to feel guilty for acknowledging the struggle. I can be grateful while it’s hard. I can be grateful and also miserable. I can be miserable and still acknowledge there is greater misery out there. I can struggle while seeing my good fortune. But ignoring this struggle has made me feel isolated and broken. Today a friend texted and asked if I had ever had a hard time adjusting to staying at home. I replied that 4 years later, I was STILL struggling. This is stuff we need to talk about. So here it goes ... Sometimes being a Mom is super awesome. But a lot of times, being a Mom TOTALLY sucks.
Here’s a little snippet of a day in the life ...
It’s the morning. The girls are eating breakfast. I think about the day and what we need to accomplish. I make my daily to-do list. All the regulars appear: laundry, dishes, vacuuming - and at the bottom are my want-to-dos - writing/drawing/showering. (Yup. Showering is still not an every day thing for this Mama.) I look around - dishes piled in the sink from last night. Toys scattered about. An overflowing basket of laundry making uncomfortably long eye contact with me. I sigh.
I go toward the dishwasher to start the unloading process. I’m two dishes in when our baby, Wright, gently pushes her breakfast over the edge of her highchair. Milk and cereal spill to the ground. The dog rushes over - slobber abounds. “Add mop up the kitchen to the list”, I think. I pour more cereal, wrestle the dog to his room (a gated area, for containment) and get back to the dishes. The toddler, Navy, begins screaming. She wants spaghetti. Right now. IT. IS. URGENT. I calmly explain we aren’t having spaghetti for breakfast, because gross, but furthermore I don’t even have spaghetti on hand to make. This is of course like an emotional atom bomb, and she detonates unruly tantruming before sidelining me to the couch to cuddle her and calm her down. I sit and console her, and eventually start trying to detach and get back to the dishes. She puts up a good fight, but relents when some random YouTube video (likely of kids playing with the very toys provided in our own living room) captivates her enough that I can dismiss myself.
As I near the dishwasher the baby ramps up. She wants down. She wants DOWN. SHE WANTS DOWWWWWWWWWWN. I pick her up and realize I’ve forgotten to change her diaper, as in the one she slept in. She’s soaked. Soaked. And oh wait. Well shit. There’s shit. This is a shituation, and a bath is in order. I rally the troops. We head to the bath.
Some Moms really like bath time. Who are these Moms? My girls are specialists at tiny tub tsunamis, and while I am thankful to erase the hint of negligence (I mean, I should have known better. Change the diaper first thing, Taylor. Rookie mistake!) I am now faced with a new to-do: Find something absorbent before the effects of Lake Let’s-Take-A-Bath reach the carpet. I find some towels, and do damage control. The girls are now sitting, shivering in a drained tub. They discover the joy of splashing the little water that remains in the drained tub and have some impressive success with drops of water flying across the room and peppering the mirror. Those little drops of joy will stay on the mirror for months, likely. I can’t prioritize that nonsense.
We dry off and head to the girls’ room to get some clean clothes. Because bath time was impromptu I didn’t come armed with the necessary props: namely, a diaper. So in the process of making our clothing selection, nudist number two, Wright, marks her territory. She chooses the white rug in her bedroom. Cleaning the rug is now at the top of the daily to-dos. I get the girls dressed, in surprisingly quick fashion, and prep the carpet cleaner.
With baby on hip and carpet cleaner in tow we head back up the stairs behind my lovely tour guide, Navy. She stops to look out of the window at the landing of our stairs, before kindly kissing Grandma (a piece of pottery we have on the landing - a large replica of Grandma’s urn.) She begins to ask about her friends, and then urges that we need to play with them RIGHT NOW. She heads back down the stairs. I know good and well that she is not to be trusted downstairs by herself (and for the record, we are still only 1/2 way up the stairs) so I quickly rush up to their room, deposit the carpet cleaner, and rush back down the stairs. By this point Navy has (with superhuman strength) drug our oversized ottoman from the living room to the front door and is standing atop it trying to unchain (chainlocked in her honor) our front door. “FRIENDS” she pleads.
I explain that it’s only 8:30 am and way too early to play with our friends, before glancing down at my watch to see it’s actually 10:30 at this point. Crap. Didn’t we just get up? Where does the time go?
We head back upstairs after some negotiating, chocolate kisses in tow, and I lock the girls in their room with me where I begin to steam clean the pee spot. Wright finds it amusing to unplug the carpet cleaner. I do not. Each time she unplugs it, it has a minute of “rebooting” or whatever the steam equivalent of rebooting is. The process is delayed. And delayed. Delayed once more. Oh yeah, one more delay, for good measure. I wrap up, and like the donkey I am manage to carry both girls and the carpet cleaner downstairs all while Navy thrashes. She’s upset because she wants to spend more time with her shoes, duh.
I get the carpet cleaner put away, and see the opened dishwasher. “Oh yeah” I remember. I start to unload it, when Deco starts barking fervently. I let him out of his room and open the back door to let him out. In this short blink of an eye the girls manage to upend the laundry basket. I’m amazed hours later at how well they dispersed it, when I find a pair of clean undies balled up in the fireplace. I gather the laundry back into the basket. Navy has spotted the ottoman at the front door and is back atop it when I bargain that we can check the mail together. I roll the ottoman back to it’s home, center of the living room, and then gather the girls to walk to the mailbox. Anxiety strikes when I see a neighbor, realizing that I look worse than decaying road kill. It’s got to be 11 by now, most people have scraped themselves together at this stage in the day. I wave and pray they don’t want to talk - comforting myself with the idea that the Monet effect may be underway - knowing if they get too close, I’m ruined. They wave and I scuttle to the front door. Navy insists on picking a flower. Wright puts a rock in her mouth. We make it back. I have forgotten Deco was outside. It’s hot, he’s huge and hairy, and by the way he’s on his back two legs lunging on the backdoor - I gather that he’s ready to cool down. I go to the backdoor, watching it bow under his weight (he’s a Newfie ya’ll. 130 pounds - And since I don’t need a broken backdoor, I get there quick!) I let him in and once again see the opened dishwasher.
It will be noon when I finally get the dishes done. We’ll have been awake for 4 hours.
Motherhood is putting out fires, only to discover and put out new ones. Those items on the bottom of my list, the ones for me? It’s no wonder they rarely get checked off. I’m thankful for the journey - grateful beyond measure. But y’all. I. Am SPENT. I know so many of you are with me in these trenches. I think it’s okay for us to acknowledge it. In fact, I think we owe it to one another to talk about it. So hey guys, I’m Taylor, and I think being a Mom is super duper hard. Shit. Somebody just spilled juice.