Every day I wake up and either consciously or subconsciously say to myself, today I am going to be a great mom. Today I will do everything right and everyone will be happy.
Then I make a thousand small mistakes, and a few bigger ones. Many days I go to bed wishing I had done better. Another day has passed and I wasn't the mom I wanted to be.
The truth is that this mom thing isn't what I thought it would be. It is stereotypical to say that being a mom is the hardest job in the world, but it is. To me, being a mom feels disheartening some days. Some days, instead of having positive experiences molding my children into good people, I just feel like a referee of sibling battles and the provider of Band-Aids for physical and emotional wounds.
As parents, we are constantly preparing them for the time when they must successfully take care of themselves. I do this mothering every single day. Not perfectly. Not amazingly. I only hope that tomorrow I may do better than today.
I have four children and someone is always unhappy. I have the mood swinger, the whiner, the instigator and the stubborn tantrum thrower. I also have the brilliant, the pleaser, the lover and the humorist. I have all these children with their diverse personalities and they all need me to be a good mom to them every single day. It is a lot of pressure.
All I ever wanted since I was a little girl was to be a mom. It seemed like such an effortless and beautiful way to move through the world, adoring that human being that came from your own body; a perfect collision of DNA from you and your beloved. What no one could have prepared me for was how I would give so much of myself into the effort of raising my children that I would be left questioning whether I had made the right decisions in life.
It is true that being a mom means loving beyond anything I could ever have imagined. Being a mom teaches me to feel every emotion powerfully, every second of the day. Being a mom sends fireworks of crazy joy from my body, and also deflates my spirit with the possibility that I am getting it all wrong.
My perception of motherhood is that my experience is more difficult than others. But maybe it isn't. My first child was born with an intensity that takes an emotional toll on my heart. She is moody and volatile. She is also intelligent and heartfelt. She is kind and wicked inside a minute. She has the uncanny ability to make me feel like the worst mom in the world, but can also make me feel proud to have birthed such an extraordinary child.
I had planned on having two children, but then considered stopping after one when I figured out how hard motherhood was. My first child needed a sibling, I thought. The proper thing to do is give her a sibling. Just one more child.
I ended up having higher order multiples.
I never experienced that stress-free grace that I see moms have at the park or at school drop-off. I may look calm on the outside, but on the inside I dread the next behavioral moment I will have to battle.
I have been watching you moms who look like you move through your days with the simple pleasure of motherhood. Your children seem so easy and follow all the rules. You are the moms who go to lunch with friends while your kid is asleep in their car seat. You are the moms who dine at a restaurant and maybe even catch a movie with your infant sleeping peacefully throughout. You are the moms who can joyfully take your children on an outing without worrying about strong personalities ruining a nice day. I try not to be resentful. I try to be happy for you.
I was the mom who tried to go out to dinner with my husband and my 3-month-old child was so fussy that the couple from the next table took turns taking her outside to settle her. I said yes to having strangers take my child outside to comfort her, because I needed a break that badly.
Mothers today are expected to do it all -- playdates, school volunteering, extracurricular activities, laundry, meals, gym workouts, socializing, creating intimacy for our husbands, throwing extravagant birthday parties -- all with a smile on our faces. We are all supposed to be happy moms, willingly sacrificing everything for the sake of our offspring.
I guess I am just one mom who doesn't always have a smile on my face. I am a mom who admits that motherhood isn't as glorious as I thought it would be. Some days I am not a good mom. Sometimes I feel resentful when I look around and see others who have an easier time of being a mom. I don't always feel very social or intimate. Some days I want to give less to my children and have more for myself.
All this and I still love my kids with a fury and a passion that could power a rocket ship into space. I see their shiny beautiful faces and my heart could burst from my chest with the powerful love I feel for my children.
Tomorrow I will be the greatest mom. But I probably won't. And I have to be OK with that.