ugly motherhood

there are so, so many good things about being a mother. having little people who look up to you, adore you, love you unconditionally, snuggle with you: sometimes it makes me heady.

perhaps my favorite thing about becoming a mother is that it has forced me to look outside myself. i could have done this without becoming a mother. and this is not my way of saying that anyone else needs to become a mother someday. those of you who know me know my journey to motherhood, and it has not necessarily been one of longing and hoping and dreaming as a child that i would someday be a mother of three.

but i love that my children force me to self-sacrifice. i can’t even go to the bathroom by myself without one of them wanting to read me a passage from the latest book they are devouring, or want to crack the door to show me “just this one LEGO thing i made,” or just barge in because he missed me.

even when i want to be selfish, want to lie in bed all day reading books and watching movies, or even doing productive things like work or exercise, i find myself instead pulled in the direction of these little ones, who have as much power over me as the world’s strongest magnet.

the ugly parts of this ongoing story are aplenty, though, as well you know if you are a mother too. i have come clean here before, and i am not one to make any bones about admitting that i struggle with patience, with always having kind words, sometimes with the desire to run to the nearest hotel for a good night’s sleep.

today, as i sit in this coffee shop trying to get some work done, though, i am struck by one of the ugly sides of motherhood that it’s not often okay to talk about, and that is the freedom we once had and that we no longer have, at least until all our children are in school. a woman sitting on a sofa near my table went up and hugged three other women and i overheard her saying that she’s meeting a friend, that her kids are at school, and she has clearly been on an early morning run and now sits, by herself, all alone--did i mention she doesn’t have little people hanging off her?--texting, talking, sipping a cappuccino, and waiting for her friend to show.

i realize that as i type i am alone, no little people in sight, and i too have consumed a cappuccino. (i am considering a second one just to keep the buzz going.)

but i know that at 11:30 my little firecracker of a boy will be getting out of school, and i will be surrounded by his smells, sounds, and passion (both good and bad). next year, i keep telling myself, next year will be different: maybe i won’t work so much, and all three kids will be in school for six whole hours a day. which means six hours of freedom for me. or six whole hours to work at a job in an office, with other grown-ups. six whole hours in which there is ample opportunity for adult jokes, for alone time, for meeting a friend for coffee (or mimosas? guess it depends on the day of the week…).

these little people, they come into our lives, and they change us. and in some ways they chain us too. and i gladly accept the chains, but i am grateful for the chances both now and in the future to shed those chains and be me.  


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