A few months ago, during one of my mom's visits, she handed me four handwritten tablet-size pieces of paper.
On December 14th, 1977, when my mom was 27 years old, she took the time to write out, minute by minute, a day in her life as a young mother. I was 20.5 months old. My younger sister was 7.5 weeks old.
The day sounds very familiar. She was up during the night with my sister several times (my mom often wrote, "Karrie screaming in crib. Karrie throwing up. Karrie being very fussy"-my mom has always said that my sister spent a great deal of her early years crying), I was up for the day at 6:30am, and from that point on, other than a brief 15-minute rest time from 3:15-3:30pm, when my sister and I were still sleeping, my mom was constantly tending to the needs of an infant and a toddler.
At 9:30am, my mom writes "still burping Karrie (fussy and spitting up). Kristi reading books, playing dolls, watching Sesame Street-living room floor littered with 10 dolls, Cookie Monster, books, and toys all over the floor-Mommy can't stand looking at the mess!"
From 10-10:20am, she washes my sister's clothes, washes her hair (she never has time to dry it), and cleans the bathroom.
At 12:10pm, she writes, "Mommy nursing Karrie and feeding Kristi mini sandwiches, cutting cheese, and reading a story, all at the same time."
At 12:25pm: "Change Karrie's diaper while Kristi gets into everything possible in Mommy's room-many tears and spankings. Mommy feels frustrated because Kristi just wants a little attention too."
At 12:45: "Mommy getting tired of two whining kids both needing attention and love. Mommy getting frazzled!"
At 2:50pm: "Make a cup of coffee-don't know whether to collapse or go downstairs and get clothes out of dryer."
At 9:35pm: "Mommy polishing Kristi's shoes." (WTF?)
At 9:45pm: "Mommy collapses in bed to wait for Karrie to wake up."
It is a multi-page description of the life of most mothers of very young children.
I love having this snapshot of my mother's life in which she confessed that yeah, parenting small kids is frustrating, soul-sucking, and mentally and physically exhausting sometimes, because to talk to her now, her early years of motherhood were filled with nothing but puppies, rainbows, and galloping unicorns.
Interestingly, this is something I hear on a regular basis from acquaintances and a few friends. A girl I went to high school with repeatedly posts joyous updates (and only joyous updates) about her family on Facebook. Granted, this girl is one of those perpetually upbeat, sweet, kind, and glass half-full kind of people (obviously, we have nothing in common), so I can cut her a bit of slack, but Dear God, doesn't ANYTHING ever go wrong in her life? If so, I want to read about it, if for no other reason than to make me feel, for just a moment, that my life sucks less than hers.
I've long believed that mothers who paint a perpetually rosy picture of motherhood, who never complain, who stress that waking up 12 times in the middle of the night with a screeching, colicky newborn isn't robbing them of their will to live, who are able to somehow escape from their child's terrible twos unscathed, who say they don't miss their former, pre-child life even a little bit, are both terrible liars and doing new mothers a grave injustice.
I entered into motherhood with a very unrealistic idea of what it would be like. Granted, I had spent the two years prior to Isabella's birth bargaining with God that if he would just give me a baby, I would gladly devote my entire existence to the raising of this child.
Just give me a baby!
Once I got that baby (and two others), motherhood turned out to be a lot different than the pasture of grazing ponies I once imagined it to be. I wanted for myself more than motherhood could give me. I wanted to work. I wanted to run. I wanted to see my friends and read books and stay current on issues of importance to me.
I love my kids, but raising them while attempting to keep some semblance of myself intact is by far the hardest thing I've ever done. And I've worked my damnedest to be honest about how difficult it is for me. I am a downer at times. I know this, and I also know that this blog sometimes reads like a desperate cry for pharmaceutical intervention.
But I can't think of living my life pretending like it's something other than it is. And I love reading your blogs when you tell it like it really is too.
A lot of times, life with young children is awesome and funny and adorable, and posts that celebrate this are great to read.
But sometimes, like the 27-year-old version of my mother wrote one December in 1977, "Mommy needs a pair of roller skates and 8 hours sleep to keep up with these 2 little "angels?"...and even thought they are adorable, they have a lot of miserable moments."
Reading about your misery makes me feel less like I'm alone on Bad Mommy Island somewhere in the South Pacific.
My favorite posts of yours are those where you tell it like it really is.