This week I hit my rock bottom of parenting. It doesn’t happen that often, but when it does, it’s ugly.
Thank goodness for my village, is all I can say. Sometimes I can’t even put into words how much it helps just to have grandparents close by who can pick the kids up and take them for a few hours, or have Maverick come spend the night.
Sometimes I forget to ask for help because I’m too busy focusing on what is right in front of me: a screaming baby, figuring out what’s for dinner, determining who hit whom first … and before I know it, I’m drowning. Robbie will come home and say, “How can I help?” And I just look at him blankly because the work for the day is already done, and asking that question just means I have to think of a response. I have to say something. I have to answer another question.
Sometimes I can’t answer, and sometimes I can’t ask. Sometimes, it’s all I can do to keep it together amid two toddlers and an extremely challenging 5-year-old. Sometimes I spend my whole day exerting the energy it takes not to yell, to handle things I don’t feel up to handling, to remain calm in the face of defiance. The physical part of my job, I can handle. The emotional part is what takes a toll.
The old me wouldn’t have understood that. The pre-child Harmony was an exceptional communicator who was in tune with her feelings and needs, and would never have believed that one day she would find herself unable to ask or answer. I would have thought, How is that possible? You open your mouth, and you voice your thoughts.
And yet, here I am. I’m so tired. I’m tired of answering questions and I’m tired of talking. I’m tired of thinking and I’m tired of making major life decisions. I’m tired of trouble shooting problems. I’m tired of trying to creatively handle issues. I have nothing left today and maybe even tomorrow, because I. Am. Tired.
This week, I clipped Asher’s paci because we felt like it was time to break him of that habit and all of the books and people around us said so, too. Robbie took him on a special trip to the store today for a new bedtime toy, a Ninja Turtle Dream Lite. He was so excited, and we were optimistic. Perhaps this would be the magical solution, a replacement for the paci that he clearly missed so much.
But tonight, six hellish bedtimes and super-early morning wakings later, Robbie was home to witness the insanity for the first time. The Dream Lite did not do the trick. Asher screamed and cried almost just like he did when we had to teach him how to sleep in a big boy bed. Nothing is ever easy with this kid. He doesn’t do change well.
“We can’t do this,” said Robbie (I’m paraphrasing). I wanted to yell, “I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS! YOU JUST HAVEN’T BEEN HERE TO SEE IT!” But instead I said, “Well, what do you think we should we do?”
He went to the store for more pacifiers.
While he was gone, I thought about all the people who told me it was time to nix the paci, and how none of those people were the ones who actually had to deal with the reality of it. Even my own husband couldn’t make it more than one night, and so I decided, once again, that mothering is Effing Hard Work.
I think we can all agree that no one can pass judgement on another person when it comes to Effing Hard Work. When I see city workers out there rummaging in man holes, running wires or digging in concrete, I acknowledge that is Effing Hard Work. I wouldn’t want to do it, and I wouldn’t try to tell them how to do it. I just appreciate that they are there, digging and running wires and making sure the traffic lights are working. No judgement. I applaud.
I write this for the mothers who are in difficult situations — and there are many shades of difficult. Being a parent is hard enough, and parenting a challenging or unique kind of child is … well … it’s impossible, really. I don’t know how we do it, we just do, because mothers are amazing creatures who should be exalted. And if you know a mother who is parenting alone for whatever reason, she deserves double exaltation.
And for the people who love those mothers, but don’t know how to help them, know this: it doesn’t matter what you do, just DO SOMETHING. Any word or act of kindness is an incredible gift. My friends and family are a constant source of support, mostly via text or email as I am locked in the purgatory of my kitchen. They help by listening and by encouraging. When I say things like, “I just want to be the mother Maverick needs,” Amy says “YOU ALREADY ARE.” When I tell my mom “This is so hard,” she says, “Don’t give up.”
Mothers need hugs and encouragement. We are all just digging and running wires, really, and if you have a challenging child like Maverick then you basically feel like you’re doing it all with a blindfold on.
I may hug the next mama I see, and thank her for sacrificing her sanity and her uterus, her vanity and her self-respect, in the hopes that one day her child(ren) will make this world better.
That’s a lot.
That’s Effing Hard Work, actually.