My 6-year-old is arguing because he is right and I am wrong.
My 4-year-old is whining because today is not her birthday.
My 2-year-old is screaming because she no longer fits inside my uterus.
I’ve used the scary mom voice more times in the last 30 minutes than I have in the last 30 days. You know the voice; it’s the one we save for in-home use ONLY and barely recognize even as it’s spewing from our own lips.
The dogs are so sick of the noise they’ve hidden upstairs, not even to emerge for their daily bark at the mail truck. It’s barely 7am, and the shit is officially hitting the fan. I try to be like Nemo’s pal, Dory, and tell myself to just keep swimming, but…
Today, I am drowning in motherhood.
The breakfast I make isn’t served quickly enough.
The 4-year-old informs me she only eats toast on Tuesdays.
I don’t realize the milk has expired until cups are filled to the brims.
Just keep swimming…
Wash the dishes–fold the laundry–
as I accomplish daily, mundane tasks, I wonder if I have the energy to do them for even one more second. As I stuff socks into drawers, I think about running away! Oooh, where could I go?!
A restaurant with linen napkins?!
The bathroom, all by myself?!
A voice yelling from the kitchen interrupts my daydream: my son, calling from where he stands in front of the open refrigerator, wearing nothing but his underwear, is yet again ignoring my constant reminders to not yell from room to room. So I do what any self-respecting, mature parent would do: I ignore him.
Just keep swimming!!!!!
I’m not a terrible mother; in fact, on most days, I’m pretty okay at this parenting thing. But today, I suck. The walls of our house are closing in on me. My chest feels tight. I am a slow boil, dangerously close to overflowing, and despite my best efforts, I cannot maintain a steady simmer. After explicitly asking for privacy in the bathroom to handle my lady business, I am, yet again, blatantly ignored. Now someone else is gonna have to explain menstruation to a 4-year-old because I am all tapped out today, folks! I want everyone to shut their face holes and stop touching me.
JUST. KEEP. SWIMMING.
My husband is a kind man with a generous heart, which means I’ve got it gooood, yet today, I want to smother him with the accent pillows on our couch because he gets to leave the house to go to work and wear pants that zipper and enjoy adult conversation while I get to schedule dentist appointments in between soccer and gymnastics
AND remember tomorrow is crazy hair day at school
AND try not to forget a kid somewhere
AND navigate one of those half amusement park ride, half shopping cart on steroids through the narrow aisles of the grocery store barely missing fellow shoppers’ ankles
Oh, the worry!
Are the kids getting enough exercise? How long have they been on those iPads? Do they mind their manners when I’m not around? Does it have to be grass-fed, certified organic beef? Seriously, how long they been on those iPads?! Are we doing enough math? Okay kids, listen up! if Mummy has cried 3 times today and yelled 6 times, in how many minutes will she call Grandma for help?!!
My husband just doesn’t get it; therefore, he is on their side. I am alone, an island of insanity hoping for everything surrounding me to be still and quiet and agreeable. The mental grind of parenting is exhausting.
Part of me feels like a disgrace for even thinking these things; it’s not just my husband that’s good—my life is good! Yet another part of me is like this is honest, and it’s OK to admit that I miss talking on the phone without interruption from plastic Snow White high heels tap-freaking-dancing on hardwood floors three inches from my face.
JUST! KEEP! SWIMMING!
Nothing in particular and everything all at once has done me in today. And when he catches a glimpse of my crazy eyes and unwashed hair, my patient husband corrals the kids to bed, giving me a moment of peace. Disconnected from the chaos, my shoulders melt back into their resting position, and I can finally turn off my brain. I exhale for the first time in 14 hours.
Ya know, all those other fish think there’s something wrong with Dory because she can’t remember what she did yesterday, but I think she’s on to something. And after sneaking into my kids’ darkened bedrooms and kissing their sweet faces one more time, I know tomorrow will be better. The forgetting is why we’re able to just keep swimming.
I edited the original version of this essay so it would mesh better with our 2016 Listen to Your Mother Pittsburgh show. If you’d like to watch my live reading of it, click HERE!
You are SO right. I loved this line from your piece — “The forgetting is why we’re able to just keep swimming.” Truer words have not been spoken. Thanks for sharing. I don’t feel as alone on those crazy days now.
Stephanie Jankowski says