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me too.

Monday, June 29, 2015

I was so excited about my morning. My new in-real-life friend (but long time online friend) Kira and I were taking our kids to the zoo. Kira is wise and kind and gentle and funny, and I leave every conversation with her feeling as though I can breathe a little more deeply. I knew my kids were tired, and they've been over-the-top crazy lately, but we went anyway. There was no way I was going to give up a few hours with my friend.



Only, we really couldn't talk over all the whining. Two kept running away (in opposite directions, naturally). The kid who needed a stroller refused to stay in it, and the two who didn't need it fought incessantly over who would get to ride. Meanwhile, my preschooler kept snatching items from the shop and screeching at another mother.

The day was a total bust.

After close to an hour of prodding and cajoling, I gave up. We left our friends by the penguins, and slowly made our way back to the parking lot.

I felt deflated. This mothering gig is beautiful and sacred, but also incredibly isolating. It is hard to be my friend right now. I'm flaky and distracted and flustered more often than not. I forget to respond to texts, I change plans at the last minute, and when we finally are in the same space, I am interrupted constantly. As I prodded my grumpy kids back to the car, I thought, this is why I don't have deep in-person friendships anymore. I've never figured out how to both be a good mom and be a good friend.

After that, there was nothing to be done but go on with the routine. PB&J's, another afternoon of fighting nap time, swim lessons. We fail, we get up, we keep going.

Then I remembered last week, when one of my older boys was intentional and generous and kind with his siblings. I shared the story with a friend, who sort of elbowed me and said, "That's because you taught him to do that." And you  know what? She's right. I did teach him that. For a minute I thought, well, I'm doing one thing right, at least. But before I could even say the words I had to rush off and catch the toddler before he ran into the road. We succeed, we grin, we keep going.

And over the weekend one of my kids hid from me for half an hour while I went out of my mind with worry and paced the streets, calling their name. As soon as I realized they were okay, my whole body flooded with relief. I closed my eyes and caught my breath. Then it was time to put everybody in their car seats, because it was dinner time and we were already late for the restaurant.

We get scared, we find relief. Get up, keep going.

What's my point? I think it's that over the past few weeks, I've been reminded how absolutely, unflinchingly, day-after-day-after-day, pounding-the-pavement relentless parenting is. We bob along with the tides of the moment, catching flickers of success, snatches of defeat. But no matter what has just happened, there is always another meal to prepare, another mess to clean, another child to correct, another argument to break up. It. Never. Stops.

If Brene Brown is right, if the most powerful words in the English language are, "Me too," then that's the best I can offer this evening. Mothering is sacred and beautiful and good and true. It is also crushing and isolating and relentless. This is me, waving in the dark in the middle of a hard season.  If, like me, you are feeling the weight of all of it at once, I see you.

Me too.


5 comments:

  1. Me too, Stephanie! Me too! Yesterday I goggled "when does parenting get easier?" And I only have one...

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  2. Me too, Stephanie! Me too! Yesterday I goggled "when does parenting get easier?" And I only have one...

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  3. Ha. Well, it gets harder, then easier, then harder again.

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  4. As I was reading, all I could think was, "me too!" We all have our days and our sneaky little minds want to focus on the bad days more than the good days. I read recently that when we have one of those "bad days," we should train our brain and begin to replace those thoughts by remembering the "good days." For me that means literally writing down the good days to reassure myself that I actually had them once upon a time! That further trains my brain to focus on the positive. But oh how I've had (and still have) days just like the one(s) you described! Me too.

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  5. I am so grateful to read this this morning. It is so hard to be friends as moms of young children. I have seven year old twins and a four year old, all boys, and getting a conversation finished with them around is really challenging. But I love your realization that you are doing parenting right. Friendship can come later. My favorite quote: Those who matter won't mind, and those who mind don't matter.

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