This is Motherhood

posted in Motherhood, Parenting Challenges, Potty Training, The Baby, The Holidays, The Terrible Twos, Twins on by with 18 Replies

I had already gone over the edge.  I was grasping at roots and twigs, white-knuckled hands barely holding on.  Then one of the damn dogs came along and peed on my hand.  Great.  Thank you.  You can’t take me down that easily though.  I’m still hanging in there.  But then the kids came.  They towered over me, laughing at my distress.  They casually reached down and yanked the scraggly bits I was clinging to out of my hands.  I fell, shocked, silent and open-mouthed into the abyss while the twins skipped away giggling, hand in hand, and the baby screeched on and on…

No, that’s not a dream I had.  I wish it were that simple.  It’s just that any time I try to articulate, even just in my own head, how I’ve been feeling lately, the image of falling over the edge of a cliff is all I can come up with.


They’ve stopped napping.  The twins.  And she’s started screeching louder than I thought any human being could screech.  The baby.  And I’ve been yelling.  And crying.  And saying a lot of things I really shouldn’t say.  And it’s been horrible.  This isn’t what I signed up for.  It isn’t what I wanted.  It’s never been this hard.  Not when they were newborns, not when we moved when they were only two weeks old, not when the baby was in the NICU for weeks and we had to drive two hours to see her every day.  This is so, so hard.

I always knew that I wanted to be a mother.  When I was little, I loved playing house in one form or another; I nursed and changed my baby dolls, pushed my Care Bears around in a toy stroller, and lovingly laid them all down to sleep in my bed with me at night.  Then I worked as a baby-sitter as soon as I was old enough to be trusted with other people’s children.  I worked a summer job at a daycare, I taught preschool, and then I taught high school.  As soon as I fell in love with the man who would become my husband, I imagined having children with him.

I have spent my entire life taking care of children or looking forward to having my own.  When I finally did have babies of my own, I remember standing in the shower the day after we brought them home from the hospital.  My whole body was deflated, puffy, and sore, but I felt so light.  I had just given birth to two, perfect, healthy baby girls.  It was more than I had ever hoped for.  I hadn’t slept in days and my life was turning inside out and upside down, but I was so, so happy.  I started sobbing and my husband heard me and rushed in to see what was wrong.  All I could say was, “We’re just so lucky.  I can’t even believe it.  I am the luckiest mom in the entire world.”

That was my introduction to motherhood.  You can see why I’m now a bit disillusioned.

Now I cry in the shower but not with grateful happiness.  I have so much to be grateful for and happy about, but I can’t get there right now.  Every night, I resolve to do better the next day.  To have more fun with them, to be more relaxed, to be more patient.  But the next day, they greet me with complaints and demands.  I try to smile and soldier on.  They run away when it’s time to change their clothes.  They whine for more food and refuse to eat the food they have.  I get them the food they ask for and neglect to feed myself.  They push the baby.  The baby screams.  They run, screaming and spewing spit and hot tears at one another, demanding the release of a toy that they couldn’t have cared less about five minutes ago.   They climb on chairs they’re not supposed to climb on to reach things they’re not supposed to have and fall down and cry.  They ask for band-aids and different pants and a book that’s upstairs and a toy that’s in the car and more milk and more snack and to listen to music and to watch TV and to play outside and to do a freaking craft.  I am no longer capable of smiling.  They are so, so tired, but they won’t sleep.  If I decide to really work hard on potty training that day, it takes up every second of time and every ounce of my energy.  And the house is a mess and so am I.  Oh and the baby is still wearing the same pajamas she wore yesterday and all night.  And she smells weird.  When did she last have a bath?  And oh for the love of god, where did they get a safety pin?  Is that dried up dog pee by the piano?  Oh good.  The doorbell’s ringing.  Please let it be Jehovah’s Witnesses.  What I need right now more than anything is to discuss what magical mysteries may or may not be in store for me in the afterlife.  Because this life isn’t challenging enough, thanks.

Every day has moments of joy and moments of anger.  Moments of laughter and moments of tears.  I know that’s par for the course.  I kind of expected that raising kids would be a roller coaster ride.  I just didn’t know how much of me they were going to take away.  And stomp on.  And argue over.  And cover with pee.

Until recently, I was doing okay.  I would get overwhelmed, and some days were harder than others, but I could usually balance it pretty well.  Things have changed.  I am being asked to give too much, and it’s killing me.

I used to think that I had the kind of disposition that would lend itself well to being a mother.  That I would be able to handle the self-sacrifice that came with motherhood.  I always gravitated toward activities and occupations that involved helping and taking care of others.  That was absolutely nothing like what I’m dealing with now.  Now I know what my limit is, and I need some of myself back.

I know that all parents struggle with two-year-olds.  It’s called the terrible twos for a reason.  And I don’t want to hear it about three being harder, because there is no way I’m letting that be the case for me.  My girls act a lot like three-year-olds right now, so I can only hope (with desperate, feverish passion) that three brings some improvement.  And as if two children going through the terrible twos at the same time weren’t bad enough, I went and had a baby on top of it.  A baby who is now almost fifteen months old and demanding her place in the world with force and volume.

Also we just made it through Christmas.  And while a lot of the season was truly sweet and magical and exciting for the kids and for me, it was also exhausting.  It messed up their routine, messed up my ability to get anything done, and messed up my house so much that I wasn’t sure it would ever be the same.  So we are all still recovering from that.  But still.  Every day is a battle.  Every day I am just struggling to survive, and I don’t know how much more of this I can take.  In fact, just yesterday I slammed down a dish towel and screamed at my husband that I didn’t want to be anyone’s mommy anymore.  And even as I said it, I knew I didn’t mean it, but the hot, angry feelings just came exploding out of me.

And finally, like a mocking, sneering troll, jabbing at me to see when I’ll boil over, my hormones, possibly because I recently stopped breastfeeding, are all over the place.  I get my period for two weeks, every two weeks.  I always either have my period or I have PMS.  I know that my moodiness and rage are hard for my family to deal with, but they are truly awful and exhausting for me too.

So this is it.  This is blood and sweat and tears.  And poop.  This is an aching back and cracked heels and a cavity in at least one tooth but no time to go the chiropractor or the spa or the dentist.  This is picking up all the books only to see the baby gleefully tossing them over her shoulder the next second.  This is yelling at barking dogs and preparing a thousand meals and sighing at your unwashed reflection as you pass the mirror in the hall to answer the door.  This is cleaning up a pee accident and going upstairs for clean underwear and coming back down to someone peeing on the potty and wiping a butt and washing hands and putting on underwear and praising her precious and amazing ability to urinate and doling out treats and changing the baby’s diaper and oh there’s poop on her clothes and finding clean clothes from the enormous heap in the laundry room and then coming back downstairs only to step, barefoot, in another pee accident.

This is motherhood.  I just never knew it would feel like this.

  • Caroline

    Todderhood. It S to the U C K S. And then someone comes along and says, “Enjoy this, it goes by so quickly!” And the only thing you can think of is to say to yourself, “yeah, the time I spend in Solitary after I batter you to death with a loaded diaper bag will just FLY by, b!tch.” And I only had ONE 2 y.o at any given time! Many was the day when going to work was the easy part, and being at home was the challenge.

    So now you need – not want, not it would be nice if you could, not “oh but then we can’t save for this or that or the other” – you NEED to put the twins in a nice day care. It doesn’t have to be full time, just two full days or a couple of half days a week would be good for them AND for you. As I used to say when my hellions were littles, “day care workers are experts at getting your kids to do for them what they won’t do for you.” Like pee on the potty, not the floor. Or take naps. Or play nicely with other kids. Or dress themselves, or eat what they’re given, or…the list goes on and on. Then, while they are occupied with being socialized by experts, you will have some breathing room and perhaps a chance to get a task or two done. You will be astounded at how little work it is to have just one, non-mobile person around the house instead of the Twin Terrors. Think about it.

    • Caroline

      Oh, the other option is preschool, which is different from day care in that it is primarily educational in focus, rather than care taking, and often is only for 3-4 hours at a stretch. Often they go through lunch (one less mess to clean!) and send the kids home around 1, nicely tired out (and more likely to nap!!!).

      • Caroline

        ….and the last option involves lashings of Benadryl/NyQuil/vodka or whatever you got in the cabinet. For them or you. Whatevs.

        • ShakespearesMom

          Thank you for your words of wisdom, Caroline. We are planning to send them to preschool in the fall. I just have to survive until then. But it feels so very far away. I’m also in the catch 22 of wanting to write more to actually earn money but not having time to write so wanting to put them in daycare for a bit but not having the money to do that until I start earning money by writing more…bring on the Benadryl/Nyquil/vodka cocktails to help me out.

          • Caroline

            I prescribe A babysitter/mother’s helper, 3x a week, on a regular schedule, until fall. Try

  • I have a two-year old, so I can imagine how life is for you…multiplied by three. Really, you must be so exhausted! I don’t know what to say, but you’re a superb mother for even sharing this, because you want to get your sanity – and that is important for your family.

    • ShakespearesMom

      Thank you, Tarana. You may be half a world away, but you’re making me feel better about all of this!

      • I really hope you can get a break, even if for a little time everyday.

  • Riss from Raising Heathens

    I only have two boys, 3 and 1, but Ican SO relate! I found your blog on the “i dont like mondays” hop, and i look forward to reading more, I really enjoyed this.

    Feel free to visit my page as well,

    • ShakespearesMom

      Thank you for commiserating! I don’t think it matters how many kids you have – being a stay-at-home mom just gets crazy-stressful some days. I’m glad you found me, and I’m loving your blog too!

  • Tonya Daugherty

    Oh sister! I feel ya! 4 girls at our place, 8, 4, , 2, 11months. I’m anxious and angry most days. Can’t get one minute (sleeping, or else why’s) to myself to share. DH wonderful but we are spent and wondering why we have four children. And feeling awful… Reading blogs about why its so great to have 6 kids and wondering what is wrong with me! I spend days in the same clothes and if I didn’t work in the weekends I don’t know if I would ever shower. Meals never stop and laundry never ends and somehow I’m supposed to love and nurture and teach them how to be responsible, respectful people. There’s this terrible longing to be and do things I feel called to do and there is no stinking way I can do them right now… Serve the poor, continue my education, work overseas… I try to count thanks (Ann Voscamp, but some … most… days I just drown in frustration and a slow leeching bleeding out of myself. Cheerios constantly crunch under my feet and my wedding rings don’t fit. I barely have a minute to myself not even in my sleep. I can’t get what I need. Theres n doubt this is the hardest job I’ve ever had and that’s saying a lot because I’m a nurse in a neonatal ICU. That’s right, it’s easier to take care of someone else’s critically ill child then my healthy ones. So every day we pray and on the days we can’t we count on others to pray for us. Every day we he onto Jesus and all of His grace( that’s the goal anyway). If these kids grow up happy and healthy it won’t be because of anything we’ve done. It will be because of the overflowing love and grace of Jesus who understands all my weaknesses. If that sounds like preaching, it’s because I’m preaching to myself. Thanks for listening… I have to go clean up some pee…

    • ShakespearesMom

      Tonya! Thank you sooo much for sharing your stuff too! Stop reading blogs about how amazing it is to have six kids. I really don’t see how that could be all that amazing unless you have far more money than I do so you can hire lots of help. Just keep on doing your best – I guess that’s all I can say. I’ll do the same. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who struggles.

  • Linda Roy

    Hang in there Mama. I have so much admiration for you because my two boys are six years apart and I had time to recoup. You’ve got a handful. It’s not easy. But it is so rewarding and you wonder what your life was ever like without them. Except you know for sure you were better rested.

    • ShakespearesMom

      Thank you for your encouragement. So far this week has actually been better than last week, so I know that there will always be peaks and valleys.

  • Annie Atherton

    Oh Kate, so sorry, this really does suck! And here I am feeling this way on the weekends and evenings, can’t imagine all day everyday! But you do know you will get through this shit and one day you will look at your kids and be all like, why are they being so calm and good?!? What happened? Because you are raising them with LOVE and that is important!
    When I woke up after a surgery last week I was a complete baby and when the nurses asked me to lift up my leg for something I yelled at them, with my eyes squeezed shut, “STOP asking me to do stuff, just take care of ME, I don’t want to do ANYTHING ANYMORE!” So yeah, sometimes we just want to have zero responsiblities and maybe I chose to have an elective surgery when I did so that I could get an entire week off from the constant taking care of others.
    Hugs and love and support to you!!!

    • ShakespearesMom

      Thank you so much for saying this, Annie. I hope you’re recovering well from your surgery. I’m sure the week “off” had its ups and downs too!

  • Mommabear

    I needed to read this tonight. I have only two, 22 months apart, but somedays I feel like I am just failing at everything! I tell myself every night I can do better tomorrow, but at 2 1/2 & 9 months. … all I can do is my best! I love them dearly, but have never been pushed to my limits by anyone like they can push me in a tantrum filled moment. They definitely feed off of each other and join forces against me. I see this it’s an older post, please tell me out gets at least a little Better!

    • ShakespearesMom

      It’s so hard sometimes, isn’t it? I can’t say that it gets better, exactly, and my kids are still only three and almost two years old. Some days are still really challenging. It gets different though, so you’re not dealing with the same kinds of challenges forever. Soon I’m going to write a post reviewing an amazing book I’m reading – it’s called All Joy and No Fun, by Jennifer Senior. It’s about modern parenting and how it differs from parenting in the past and what makes it particularly difficult. It’s such a validating, interesting read. I cried in one of the first chapters because it made me feel like, “Yes! This is exactly what it’s like! I’m not crazy – it’s science!”
      Anyway – I’m so glad you found me, and that this post at least helped you to know that you’re not alone. Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your kiddos.