When I became a mom I became many things -protector, guide, teacher, and emotional support, to name a few. I am also slowly becoming someone I don't recognize or like. As a mother I have transformed in ways more powerful than I ever imagined. Including transforming me into someone I didn't think I would become.
It's no secret that being a mom is a 24/7/365 job. People always say that but rarely grasp what it means. Sometimes it's the most joyful part of life and there is nowhere else I would rather be than with my two littles. To watch them grow as sisters, to watch big sister do really nice things for little sister, unprompted from me. To watch the way little sister imitates everything big does, from walking to wearing a backpack. To see big sister hold little sister's hand in the car. These are the moments I live for; the moments I know we are doing something so right.
But sometimes, motherhood eats away at who I am. It takes pieces of me I may never get back. It is all or nothing, and you have to give it your all, every day. Some days I am silently crying for help and trying to explain things, why I have become who I am, but I don't feel like anyone is able to truly listen or understand. I'm changing and losing pieces of myself and some days I am not sure how to get those pieces back. I yell. I lose my temper. I constantly feel the pressure to get stuff done, because there is always something to do. There are things I need my family to know, things I am working through.
When I get short-tempered at bedtime when my almost-4 yr old pitches a fit about her pajamas, it's because she also pitched a fit when getting dressed this morning, despite all my efforts to let her choose her outfit and give her full control. I did everything "right" and still got yelled at by a 4 yr old (while simultaneously saving my toddler from certain injury as she tried to climb into big sister's window). By 8 pm I'm done fighting about clothes.
When I refuse my husband's advances, it's not that I don't want him. It's because I am still struggling with constant, daily, lingering physical side effects from my last labor and delivery 15 moths ago, and I am trying to decide if the pain is worth the gain. Although I love my husband and still find him incredibly attractive, I need to first take care of myself and love myself again.
When I yell because the kids aren't listening, it's because I feel like I've been talking all day without saying anything substantial and with no one listening. I never realized I could talk all day -ALL DAY- and not be heard. I just want my words, feelings and considerations, to be heard. I matter too.
I've been getting up at night for almost 4 years now. Even if the kids sleep through the night, my body wakes up at least once because it's conditioned to. So when something besides the kids wakes me up and I get cranky, it's because my body is so physically exhausted, and I expect an impending wake up, that every second of sleep counts. I always say the best form of torture the CIA could use is the sound of a crying baby coupled with the bone-deep exhaustion of parenthood.
When I tell my oldest I can't carry her anymore, it's because my own back and shoulders are one big knot. The toddler has been waking up again at night and she and I crammed into a nursing glider that is quickly becoming too small. I now have a neck and shoulders so sore it's made me dizzy and woozy with tension headaches every day for a week.
When I get cranky at my toddler for misbehaving in a restaurant, it's because my oldest and I were in a conversation that I really enjoyed, and I didn't want to be interrupted. It was the only minutes of quiet time my oldest and I had all day, and I know she thrives on that.
When I get frustrated that I get called home from my alone time, it's because I feel like I had to fight and claw and move mountains just to get an hour or two to myself.
It is really hard to balance the needs of four people every day, and most days I feel like I am failing at it. Helping one person is sacrificing the needs of another at that moment. That is motherhood.
I love my family more than life itself, but I also need to remember to love myself. By loving myself and taking care of myself, I help my family. I don't like the yelling, schedule-keeper, drill sergeant mom any more than they do. I don't know that person. I don't like that person. That person isn't me, although I am not sure who I really am. Motherhood changes us in ways untold.
I'm trying, dear family. I'm trying. I'm trying to find the balance, and find pieces of me I have lost, and keep my cool when life gets stressful. Just give me a little grace and help me get there.