“Momma!!!!! Mommy!” It’s about 2AM and I can’t be sure if I’m dreaming – but then I hear my name being called again, so I pop out of bed and quickly walk (run) down the hall to the girls room. I try my best to mentally prepare myself for vomit or poop every where since we just spent the day prior with one of the girls sick – but when I get in the room I smell nothing, which tells me I’m in the clear… for now. As it turns out, someone just needs to go potty. I help with that, and then return back to bed where I lay awake for a solid hour before I enter anything that even slightly resembles sleep… I happen to be one of those people who just can not fall asleep quickly. As a young adult and new mom I would make up for it by taking a nap during the day, but in this stage of life naps aren’t a thing anymore (dear naps, if you’re reading this, please come back!!!) Sometimes my inability to obtain deep sleep means I can’t remember sleeping at all by the time the sun comes up, which most times means I will definitely need to drink an extra cup (or two) of coffee in the morning.
As I lay there tossing and turning, I mull over some of the things that have been bouncing around in my head lately. Like: why is growing up at times such a lonely experience when literally everyone does it? And why does it seem like people constantly assume that I don’t personally struggle as a parent or wife or human? Why do I assume that of some other people? I find myself reflecting on something I said to a friend the day before when she mentions I’ve always been so calm when it comes to parenting, realizing that this has to be what makes it seem like I’m constantly in control in all other areas. I think back to my jumping out of bed heading to a possible vomit dungeon mere minutes before. It’s true. I was given the invaluable gift of calmness, it’s something that has seen me through some of the harder times in my own life, and has also been something those close to me can depend on during their own hard times. I may not always have an immediate answer, but I will always be calm. In supremely chaotic moments I am often able to remove myself, take out emotion, and just observe, before deciding on which actions make the most sense. During the times where I lose that control, I suffer from immense guilt as a result, as I’m sure most people do. Because of that, it’s pretty rare that I find myself crying in a moment of pure panic or stress – to be honest if I’m going to cry I usually only do it when I’m completely alone and far removed from the situation that upset me. Even those who are close to me have likely only seen me visibly upset a handful of times. It’s a blessing, my calmness. It’s what I think (or hope, rather) could make me a great social worker or counselor one day. But still, sometimes I look around and feel like it can be hard for me to be as vulnerable as I would like to be, or to ask for help in the moment I need it, or to truly feel seen. Because my shield of calm, and sword of logical thought means my body armor is assumed to be made of similarly strong stuff, when really, a lot of the time I’m not wearing any. Very little gets passed that shield. And if it does, I have my sword.
Truthfully, I kind of always imagined that I would be a good parent based mostly on the fact that it was important to me, and also on the fact that my lack of impulsivity started to surface during my teenage years. Despite these two things, I’m not perfect at it, no one is. Parenthood is hard, even if you are predisposed to it, even if you prayed for it. I don’t have sons, so I can’t comment on that aspect, but I know for sure that attempting to raise women who trust in themselves, while trying to grab hold of your own magic, at times feels so damn difficult. On top of that, there’s just this never-ending general sense of emotional tiredness that inherently seems to come with adulthood. I can vividly remember crying from this emotional exhaustion many times during my children’s newborn and infant years, lots of which was spent with my husband away from me. Sometimes I still want to cry from that exhaustion, but instead find myself more inclined to tighten my grip on my shield of calm until the feeling simply passes. That’s the thing – emotions are so fleeting for me.
The thing that gets to me, I guess, is that it seems like no one accurately described to me how dual natured and complex the feelings of growing older can be. On one end your days can feel so hard, to the point that even cooking dinner seems like an insurmountable task. But on other days things are much easier, they just flow, and it’s all so perfect. Nothing actually changed between those two days, except your personal temperament. That feeling of “man, this is so hard” comes and goes and sometimes it doesn’t feel worth mentioning because in the very moment it goes, that is the exact moment you realize how lucky you are to have health, a home, and any happiness at all. That’s probably why people just swallow it. But when the feeling comes back, it hits like a ton of bricks, and it brings a hefty load of guilt with it. How can life be so so good, and still feel so trying at times?
Walking into adulthood can really be incredibly draining. Especially once you are married and have kids, which happen to be the two things that you would never willingly give up. But at times it seems like no one is really talking about that either, likely because those are the two things that our lives are supposed to lead up to- even more so if you are a woman. People are definitely out there saying “growing up SUCKS!” and “kid’s make you so tired- parenthood is HARD!” but it’s rare that people are like “Oh, and also, it’s confusing, cause sometimes you’ll be really happy- but sometimes you won’t fully feel that, and that’s okay.” That’s the conversation I’m interested in having. That’s the thing I’d like to see change over time, having people know that you can totally be sure of your place but still feel… something. I don’t foresee myself being one of the “you have no idea how good you have it, kids” type of people, but I do want my children to be aware that even the people with tough exteriors can feel the heaviness of life from time to time. Even the people who have it all can wake up some days and feel alone in some way or another. And that’s okay, as long as you are trying. Your best is allowed to fluctuate and change. Because parenthood, marriage, and womanhood are hard in their own right but even more so when you start to try to juggle them. Sometimes you can get the parts moving in complete unison, and other times it’s a bit more difficult, and it’s not because of something you did or didn’t do. That’s truly how it is for so many people. You’re not alone in it, at least… you don’t have to be.
I wrote this sometime last week but the further I moved away from this writing- the more I started to realize that all of what I was talking about is likely what makes life so full and interesting. Maybe the point of that hard feeling isn’t just to wonder why they exist or even to know if everyone does have their moments, but is instead the following moment, the one that comes after you feel like you can’t go on – the part where you inevitably realize how good you really do have it.