the way things used to be.

Last night, at 1 am, a certain little boy crawled into bed with me and proceeded to puke on my face. And all I could think in that moment was that, in that moment I finally became a mother. I didn't become a mother when I gave birth or nursed for the first time. Nor in all those moments I spent at Elliott’s bedside in a hospital. Or on all those nights I paced the hallway, worried about a 104 fever. With every diaper change, every boo-boo kissed, every story read: no. I wasn't quite yet a mother in those times. The moment I became a mother was the moment I was cleaning someone else’s puke off my face.

Now that I am wide awake and in my right mind, I know that I became a mother long before that particular moment last night. I have been sacrificing my sanity for a long time now. Learning to sacrifice is a process, and in that process, sometimes, I can’t help but go back and think about the way things used to be.

The way things used to be…
When getting a full night’s sleep was a regular occurrence and not a rare, special treat.
When my free time was mine for the taking, to be divided on a whim by painting, sewing, or couch-potatoing.
When I had a disposable income.
When I had time to make & savor a fancy home-cooked meal.
When my clothes weren’t constantly covered in boogers.
When I could stay out late on a Friday night and have no one to wake me the following morning.
When I could be intimate with my husband at the drop of a hat.
When the only mess to clean up was my own.
When it was easier to keep my house clean.
When I could go a week without running to the grocery store and live on stale tortillas… or better, just eat out without having to pack a truckload of diapers and toys.
When I could garden, wash dishes, or do laundry at my leisure.
Pretty much, when accomplishing anything during the day was less of a struggle, a little less messy, and a whole lot quieter.

When sleep was even puke-free.

In those days, things were easier, but what purpose was it all for? My own? My own plus my husband’s? Maybe. I suppose there are plenty of mothers out there that do not feel defined by their motherhood but I am not one of those women. Sure; I could get the dishes done without tripping over blocks or babies, but where is the joy in that? I may not be washing the dishes after a delicious meal of lasagna that I artfully prepared with patience and all the time in the world. No; I am cleaning plates of spaghetti that I hastily prepared during a chorus of whining and screaming. I am wiping spaghetti sauce off dirty hands, the walls, and the dog. I am not doing this for myself…not at all. I am doing it all for the houseful of beating hearts that I love. To feed them, clean them, care for them. I am giving up a part of life to tend to their needs. Some may say that with toddlers, this is the easy part. As your kids get older your parenting shifts, and you must shape, mold, guide, and educate your children. What I am learning is that it is hard at any age your kids are at. It’s work, it’s the hardest work. But it is also the work my heart longs to be doing.

So, things are not the way they used to be. I no longer get a full night’s sleep without being interrupted by crying, snuggling or puke. My free time is limited and instead is divided by coloring, Legos, or running around outside. I have no extra money to buy shoes on a whim. I do not have the time to artfully prepare a lasagna. All of my clothes are ruined. I have no desire to stay out late, ever, and I despise sleeping in. Intimacy is scheduled. My house is never clean. I will have to run to the store after 9 pm to buy diapers or milk on a weekly basis. I will have to pack a bag of toys just to go out for fast food tacos. I don’t understand the meaning of the term “leisure.” I cannot accomplish anything easily, cleanly, or quietly.

It may seem absurd, but the moment I woke up with puke on my face is the moment I had an epiphany. I haven’t sacrificed anything. Instead, I have been given a break from the way things used to be. I have been given motherhood.


Comments

  1. Charlotte... I read this the other day and I had to come back and reread it... this was beautiful, truthful, honest and real... motherhood is amazing and hard but worth it even when it feels like it isn't... ♡

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