I delight in being a mother. In hearing my kids giggle. In watching them reach new milestones.
The achievement I am most proud of is keeping four small humans alive for the past eight years.
If all that is true, why is it so hard? Why can’t we just build blanket forts, eat popcorn, and all get along all day? Why do I find myself losing my temper over missing shoes and chewed up wooden blocks? Why do I end the day mindlessly browsing the internet because I am completely drained?
I mean, if I was an astronaut, it would make sense that I would be out of sorts by the end of the day. I’m claustrophobic, I’m terrible at driving, I’m not good with anything mechanical, and some of Ms. Frizzle’s science lessons are above my head. I would be the worst astronaut. It’s completely outside my set of strengths and preferences. It would make sense that I would start smoking and develop a nervous twitch as an astronaut. Any impatience or dissatisfaction with life would be understandable.
But mothering? It’s what I was made for.
I’m the oldest of six children. That means I’ve been bossing little people around since there were little people for me to boss.
My degree is in elementary education, and I love children’s literature and Laffy Taffy jokes. I’m a whiz at giving lectures and inducing guilt. I wear mom jeans and drive a mini van. Could I be any mommer? I’ve even had a mom haircut since junior high.
That leads me to the million dollar question:
Shouldn’t this be easier if it’s where I’m supposed to be?
I love these little humans fiercely. But it is not easy, even with the deck stacked in my favor. The spinning plates of motherhood stress me out. No amount of babysitting and diaper changing as a high schooler or education classes in college prepared me for taxes and water softener salt and nitrates.
Yesterday I started the eCourse Temper Toolkit from Lisa Jo Baker. I didn’t even get past the intro video before my first epiphany.
“Having a bad day doesn’t make you a bad mom.”
Yes. Yes times a million. Why did such a basic principle of motherhood have such a big impact on me? I had to stop the video and do some thinking.
Maybe it’s just my idealized view of things, but thinking back a few decades ago, it seems like moms weren’t quite as frustrated or bent on perfection as they are now. Sure, pinterest-envy has recently become a thing, and the de-simplification of life has increased the number of plates that are spinning.
We’ve sort of lost our collective mothering community knowledge base shared over fences and on front porches. Sitting down for tea or coffee with another woman? (Or even your own spouse or mother?) That used to be a daily part of life. Meals were shared. Stories swapped. Connections were made.
“Having a bad day doesn’t make you a bad mom,” is exactly the thing that Dolores and Harriet and Betty would have told me back in the day as we were all hanging laundry in our adjoining back yards a few decades ago. They would have commiserated about the times they did something similar and how they recovered. How their kids are fine and my kids are fine, too.
And I would have gone back inside with my empty laundry basket, ready to try again.
Or if we lived in the country, I would have gone to church with my family and stayed for lunch afterwards, discussing my week with the other mothers as the kids played and husbands stood off in their own group. It would be there that we would look into each other’s eyes and know how this whole motherhood thing was going. We would have all gone home with the assurance that it would only be seven days before we’d be back again to share housekeeping hacks and chuckle over the cute things our kids said.
We have become islands with our air conditioning and clothes dryers. Sure, we have the internet if we need to figure out how to get ink out of microfiber, but it’s not the same as chatting with five other moms on the block on your way to mail a letter or walk to the grocery store. There isn’t someone who will tell you about her Johnny who used to do the same thing, and still ended up as a functional adult. (Can someone just tell me all the stories about their weird kids who grew up to be functional adults?!?!)
Motherhood is hard because oftentimes it feels so very lonely.
There are online communities where people share stories and share resources. Unfortunately I don’t have time to track down The Best Resource for frugal living and mom self-care and creative outlets and tips for getting it all done before the end of the day when it all starts over again. I don’t want to spend time sifting through duddy pinterest links.
As I was looking through The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle resources, it dawned on me that that’s why I find it so appealing. It’s sort of like having an online Dolores to suggest some organizational tips. An experienced Betty to talk about how to stretch the budget. A wise Harriet who can remind me of what’s really important in this mothering game.
I am grateful for the beautiful family I have, and I don’t want to waste time being crabby about holes in the wall. Sometimes it’s just a matter of hearing someone else say, “They are just holes in the wall. You can spackle over it when they move out.”
Let’s bring back communal motherhood. (Is there a better word to describe this idea of having a network of support and community? “Communal” makes me think of “communal bathrooms,” which are generally negative. If you have a more precise word that doesn’t make me think of toilets, let me know before I start a whole campaign.)
I’d love to choose a resource from The Bundle to discuss here on the blog each month. Let me know if there’s a particular resource you’d like to discuss. Otherwise I’ll just choose. 🙂 It’s not quite the same as visiting over the fence, but still an opportunity to find community.
What about you? What have you done to find your over-the-fence friends?
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