Sometimes I think moms get dismissed for various reasons — because they “don’t work” or they’re “just moms” or because they start to fade into the background as soon as their babies are born.
They stop wearing heels. Their shape changes. Their priorities change, they don’t want their picture taken, and sometimes, sadly, they lose themselves.
One thing that’s nice about going to an all-ladies gym is that when I go in the mornings, it’s mostly older women who are finished with child-rearing. Almost every time I go, one of them says something encouraging like “You have THREE kids?! And you’re at the gym?! Good for you, honey!” And sometimes they pat me. On certain days, it’s all I can do not to bury my face in a velour-jumpsuited shoulder and cry.
I don’t actually go to the gym because I want to work out. I go because I need a break from my children and housework. When I share this with one of the older ladies, they laugh and start telling me that they remember how hard it was but I will get through it, because she did and look! She’s still alive.
Yesterday I was chatting with the sweet lady sitting next to me in yoga class and she said, “If you can turn out kids that grow into decent adults … then you’ve really DONE something.” And I thought, YES. Yes I will have! Thank you so much, random stranger, for saying that out loud. Also, I’ve been up since 4:30 with a demanding toddler and my nerves are raw and all I want in this world is a pedicure, a mojito, and to be left alone for like 12 hours straight.
Encouraging words are like manna to exhausted young mothers. It feels like I’m running a race and I’m at the part where I think it’s never going to end and I might die, and then someone hands me a cup of water and yells something inspiring.
I keep going because that is what mamas do. We press on, tired and faded as we are, with the knowledge that we are really doing something. And that is why I get so irritated when moms are asked, “What do you DO all day?” I’ll tell you what I do.