It Ain’t Easy
Being the mother of two young children is not easy. I say this in part to inform, but mostly to reassure myself. I need someone to follow me around on a daily basis and repeat this to me all day long. Like my own personal Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting.
RW: Being the mother of two young children is not easy.
Me: Yeah, I know, but . . .
RW: [grabs my shoulders and looks into my eyes] Being the mother of two young children is not easy.
Me: Well, yeah, of course, but . . .
RW: [determined] Being the mother of two young children is not easy.
Me: [breaks down; sobbing uncontrollably].
When you’re suddenly thrust into mothering another child (as all mothers of more than one child are), it becomes clear very quickly: This is not easy. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time I was left home alone with Lilly and Henry. Well, actually, I already forgot most of it. Or blocked it out. It’s one huge blur. But I’ll never forget the scene when Elliott walked back into the house after about a twenty minute absence. The Nut was barking incessantly. Henry was screaming. I was pacing the floor, pulling on my hair, and crying. And Lilly was sitting in time-out, screaming and crying, and completely naked.
I honestly have no recollection of what happened in that twenty minutes except that I have a vague memory of there also being a puddle of urine somewhere in the vicinity, which would explain some of the nakedness. But I do remember thinking, “Holy crap. How am I going to do this by myself every day?”
So, yeah, I know it’s not easy. It’s the accepting of that message that is more difficult. Because for some reason the fact that people do this all the time convinces you that this should be easy. But it’s not.
But every once in a while things click. Maybe not everything, but a lot of things. And that’s all it takes sometimes.
Today did not start out well. When Henry woke me up around 2 a.m. for a feeding, I immediately noticed that I was not entirely over the stomach virus that had kicked my butt the day before. Then I realized Elliott was not in bed anymore. Odd. Then before I even got out of my bedroom, Lilly came running in asking to sleep in our bed – a habit, which we have been working on breaking. But since I didn’t have any reinforcements to keep her out of the bed once I went into the nursery and since Henry’s crying was getting more frantic, I just ok’ed it knowing we were undermining some of the progress we’d made on that front. After feeding Henry, I sought out Elliott and learned that he was victim #3 of the aforementioned virus. So that’s how the early morning hours went.
I woke up knowing there would be no time for slacking off today. And I do recall a moment this morning when I was trying to get a cranky Henry to nap, while trying to keep Lilly from disturbing Elliott convalescing on the couch, when it hit me once again: This is not easy.
Yet still, now that everyone has been cared for and is asleep, I’m thinking back on my day and I’m not thinking of the stress. I’m thinking of the minutes when Lilly and I were pretending to be Kung Fu Pandas in the backyard; and when Lilly and I took turns snacking on baby toes to make Henry laugh; and flying Henry on my knees; and teaching Lilly how to play tennis in the driveway, and reading bedtime stories to both kids at once for a change.
It was a good day. Not an easy one, but a good one. That’s the distinction I have to remember. Motherhood is not a day at the beach. It’s a long, hard workout that kicks your ass, but makes you collapse into a chair and say, “damn, that felt good.”
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