In the early hours of the morning, I wake with an overwhelming weight upon me. Aside from the 80 pound lab that snuck into bed and is found sleeping on my legs, it’s the weight of motherhood and parenting that blankets and envelops me.
A seasoned veteran by now with three children, I’ve got years of experience under my belt and wisdom between my ears. Through days, weeks, months and years of accumulated battles, celebrations, successes and failures, I have earned some notches in my belt, yet I’m not sure how qualified I am.
This parenting gig is hard. As my children have grown and developed into multifaceted individuals, my job has become more complicated. Oh, how easy the babies are. Feed, sleep, poop… repeat and add some play.
We may or may not have different approaches to parenting but we all share in the daily march; questioning at each crossroad which direction is right. I try to simply keep up. Keep up with basics not the “Joneses”. The Joneses can suck it since I haven’t showered yet, am still in my PJ’s and just discovered yesterday’s empty lunch bowl of noodles on my desk with a fork and napkin dried onto it. I’m pretty sure the Joneses have me beat and lapped, so screw it. I’m just in it for the win today.
I appreciate the honest dialogues as parents we engage in about how awesome parenting is, how great the wins are and how uplifting the successes are. However, I will not lie that I crave more the honest dialogue about the reality.
The reality of how hard this job is; how mentally and physically exhausting parenting is, how thankless our jobs can be and how simply keeping track of our daily schedules is insurmountable sometimes.
I crave a dialogue about the reality. A dialogue about while we’ll always love our children, moments exist when we really, really don’t like them. That no matter how thick our skin, they do manage to really hurt our feelings. A dialogue about how our efforts fail and we fall flat in our children’s eyes. Dialogue about frantically searching late at night for clean school pants, underwear or socks that you swear you just washed. No matter how many wins we have under our belts, we will forever beat ourselves up over the fails.
Most mornings when I don’t take the boys to school, I lay in bed waiting for happy chirping to come through the baby monitor on my bathroom vanity. I pull off that weighted blanket and begin the day. There is breakfast for Harper, coffee to brew and attempts made to catch bits and pieces from the Wall Street Journal.
There are dogs to shoo from under the high chair 900 times. There is time spent sometimes fretting and hoping Paul packed Cooper’s lunch since I’d forgotten the night before.
There are emails to respective teachers about new tutors hired, teacher recommendations and transcript releases, and reminders that I promise as room mom to be on top of those valentine party ideas to name a few.
There are vows to take a shower, do a better job enforcing that the kids make their beds and remember to finally send those thank you notes.
There is playtime and vacuuming after I see how much dog hair is on Harper’s PJ’s after she rolls around on the carpet. There is nap time and the frantic rush to get the “everything under the sun” stuff done before the chirping comes through the monitor. There is never enough time but there is always tomorrow to make that overdue Dentist appointment, annual OBGYN visit and get my eyebrows waxed.
There is lunch and there is carpool. There is the mad dash through late afternoon Atlanta traffic which on a good day remains unforgiving. There are tired kids and there is homework. There are hours spent at the kitchen table sounding out words and repeating yet again, “I am happy to help, but I am not doing homework for you”. There are tears and protests. I have counted the minutes until bedtime and I feel guilty.
There is keeping their different school schedules, activities & fundraisers straight and simply doing my best to show up at the right school at the right time each day. I remind myself that I’ve got this all under control and would be lost without my calendar.
I make dinner, do laundry and chase a happy baby. I try to keep the peace and attempt to teach two brothers how to compromise. I lose my patience. I accept that yet again, we will not eat as a family due to Paul’s schedule and the boys, Harper and I sit down to dinner.
We laugh, we goof and we share. There is the bedtime routine, reminders to brush teeth and go potty. Stories are read, hugs, kisses, bedtime wishes given. I love you’s and sleep tight and see you in the mornings said.
Doors are closed, three are tucked in bed and I look at the imaginary notches in my belt.
I wonder what I’ve accomplished and I wonder if I made the right choices. I wonder if the direction I chose at that last fork in the road was the right decision. I question myself and vow to have more patience and get better organized. I vow to be a better mom and to be more present because I can only conclude from the chaos of each day that quite possibly I must have gone astray to be such an ungraceful parent.
Parenting is hard, amazing and often unforgiving. As I crawl into bed each night I simply hope I pulled off another chaotic misadventure in the win column. I hope the kids remember more positive, uplifting, entertaining and happy moments than moments where I lost my patience, one, both or all kids had meltdowns or I simply wanted to throw in the towel.
I appreciate the support and honesty of those friends who live this parenting adventure honestly and with transparency. I appreciate that we can share and eventually laugh with perspective on our greatest fails and high-five the greatest wins.
Being honest and real as parents makes living this chaotic parenting adventure and real life that much easier. So, for those who march the paths of parenting each day with me, thank you.
A friend and I got together for coffee yesterday. She’s a new mom, too. We both agreed that while it’s very rewarding, no one talks honestly about being a parent. The most honest conversation you ever hear is that you’ll be tired and it’s a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong. I love my Squeaker, but it’s so much different than I thought it was going to be!
Yes, the reality is totally different than what people generally lead you to believe or talk about. Sounds like you are holding your own down in Chile and I send you my best!
Thank you! xoxo
Oh Jen, I have enjoyed so many of your blog posts over the years, but I must say this one here may be my #1 favorite. I have just read it three times in a row and each time I glean a new gem from it. I must say that hands down, one of my favorite lines is, “The Joneses can suck it……” I am thinking that would make for a great bumper sticker. xo
Thank you Alex. You have always been so supportive and I so very much appreciate your kind words and encouragement. So glad the post and words resonated. Of course I would’ve preferred a phrase aside from Suck It, but kept it PG-13! Cheers to you and yours.
I have gotten such pleasure out of sharing the link to this piece with so many friends this weekend. Each one then replies back to me as if I have given them the biggest gift….which is so funny to me because you were the gift giver! Your writing and your perspective is such a gift to us all. You speak the truth sister and we love you for it. Hope your day holds a shower…. or maybe not and that’s ok too. xo
I am so moved by your support and kind words Alex. Thank you. So happy to shared the post and that it resonated with your friends. All the best to you and again, THANK YOU!
Just perfect! Thanks for this. I just put Ali down after being dx with the flu. Fever of 103 with Tylenol on board. Threw up (on mommy when she was laying on me) and gave her a bath. Got her all situated back on couch and threw up (on me) again! After bath two and a clean couch, big sis comes home from dance crying because daddy just told her she can’t have her very first sleep over Sat night that she has been excited for over 2 week because we have the flu in our house 😦 I have been up since 4:40 and worked all day. I am worried about Ali and want her to get better! Getting mentally ready to stay up all night, I am exhausted…sorry, you inspired me to be honest!! Would not change anything but it is hard sometimes! Xxoo
Shit girl.. I feel you and I am so sorry. Yes, vent and share. Been there and I wish you were not experiencing this with sweet Ali. Hope she recovers quickly and that you all don’t get the flu. Vent anytime! Hugs
I love this. Because, I feel the exact same way. I scroll through blogs looking for honesty, and a lot of the time, all I see is pretty pictures and happy moments. I recently made a vow to be more open and honest on my own blog. I’m working on it. Because motherhood is honestly the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. And, I still have a long way to go. Thanks for sharing. I’m a follower now. 🙂
What a compliment, thank you. So glad you are following along now and I appreciate your comment and support. Yes, motherhood is so hard and sharing does, to a certain extent, make facing the hard times that much easier. Best to you and yours.
Jen, I loved this blog. It is so transparent and says what we all feel. You are not alone. I know you have more/different fears than most of us though. Sometimes I dream of a commune where all of the women and children help and support each other since the Dad’s sometimes are so removed from the day to day grind. You are an amazing woman and a great mother. Never doubt that!
Oh, Leigh, thank you my friend. I wish I saw you more often and miss you. I too dream of the same thing and it feels great knowing I am not alone. Hugs.
Being the father of two grown ups I applaud your honesty Jennifer, in my eyes all mothers are saints – and you will win both battles.
C.J. thank you. Not sure I am a saint and not sure I will win the battles, but I do so appreciate the support and kind words. Best to you! Thank you.
This is a great blog, Jennifer! I can really identify with what you said, especially as a mom of three who thinks about this issues all the time. I think as moms, we’re always wondering if we made the right choice, said the right thing, made the most of a moment. Though cliche, there is no instruction booklet that comes with our children, and I think we’re constantly figuring it out and hoping we’re doing a good job. I appreciate your honesty. Take care.
Thank you Lauren! So appreciate your comments and support. This is a hard journey and supporting one another is so important, so, thank you. Best to you.
Jen, I love your honesty, in all that you do. I’ve felt all that you have felt many times. You are just better at expressing it than I am. Miss you. Hope to see you soon.
Thank you Susan. I miss seeing you and hope you and the family are doing well. I wasn’t sure I was expressing anything well aside from my feelings so I am happy it resonated with you. Cheers to you and the family.
Jen, I feel this way everyday. With all the ups and downs of my health, my divorce, the choices I have had to make for Allison to keep her safe. I am always wondering “Is this right?” “Did I do okay today?” Thank you for accepting clarity!
Carrie, thank you and I know you share a challenging journey as well. Thank you for your comment and best to you and Allison.
Amen. I too brought to tears.
Thanks Kathy! Glad to share a good cry too.
Beautifully expressed of which I also so often feel! We are blessed to be Mothers but the Weight of it can be a tough and long road. Feel the blessings in knowing you are raising wonderful humans in this fallen world. Thank you Jennifer!
Thank you Angela. So appreciate your kind and thoughtful words of support.
Reblogged this on Heather James and commented:
I really, really like this blog. There’s something about Jennifer that makes me want to try harder and aim higher for just about everything. If you can live Jennifer’s life and still have the courage to be flawed, then the world is a better place. It just is. Please read her.
So thoughtful and kind Heather. I appreciate your words.
My gosh, my gosh, my gosh! I needed this today. You’ve brought me to tears but I feel better for it. 🙂 I’m so at my wit’s end with my 9 year old . . . trying to balance discipline, his personality, and the fact that I’m flawed and don’t always respond the right way. Thank you!
You are so welcome. I felt yesterday that I was at my wit’s end and needed to articulate somehow how challenging this is. Glad it resonated with you.