It was a typical end of the week afternoon in my backyard when I realized what I dislike most about being a mom.
My single best friend had stopped by for a visit. She was attempting to entertain my kids while I grilled dinner, me cursing myself for not bringing home a Costco rotisserie chicken instead all because of some article I read about the dangers of carrageenan.
In between baby coos, and trying to dissuade my toddler from feeding dog kibble to her stuffed animals, my friend and I talked about her Friday night plans, because of course I didn’t have any beyond DVR.
She, on the other hand, had options.
The kind single girls dream of.
Reservations at a swanky restaurant was option one. Jazz and wine at the Museum of Modern Art was another. Meeting up at a new gastropub downtown was a third.
In an hour or so, she’d leave me to bedtime routines and cranky babies, when she’d scurry off to luxuriate in a long uninterrupted shower before slinking into any number of in-the-moment outfits. She’d then head out into the night, the possibilities as fragrant as her perfume. Her mind swarming with thoughts of work and wine. She’d probably get drunk. She’d probably order late night takeout. She might even kiss a stranger. My friend could be recklessly irresponsible if she wanted to, answering to no one.
Picturing all that lay ahead, for both of us, was when I realized what the hardest part of parenting is. And it isn’t what I thought it would be.
It isn’t the poosplosions. The goriest of them always happening when you’ve forgotten the extra wipes or spare outfit or when you’re wearing white.
It isn’t the stretch marks. Oh the stretch marks. No hundred dollar cream or magic potion is ever going to restore the skin on my hips to what it once was.
It isn’t the crying. The newborn colic crying. The 6 month old teething crying. The toddler tantrum crying. The just because I want to annoy you crying. The two children at once crying. While pretty freaking awful, it isn’t even the crying. Though there’s no other more disconcerting sound in the world than a child in pain, be that pain real or imagined.
It isn’t the mess.
The discomfort of having to hold your own pee, to deal with someone else’s.
The hardest part isn’t even the sleep deprivation. I thought the sleep thing would be easier the second time around. I was wrong.
Car keys have ended up in the freezer. I’ve slept through my first born LOUDLY dumping a bottle of Kefir on the master bedroom floor. There have been moments of exhaustion so poignant, with both children, that I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to wake up again.
The hardest part isn’t any of those things, though admittedly, they do suck. No one likes the smell of fermented dairy products in their brand new carpet.
The most difficult thing about being a mom is something I still struggle with, two kids and two years later.
It’s that I’ll never truly feel free again.
I’ll never get lost in the night like I did before my kids were born. Never again will I float from place to place on a whim, dashing from one exciting oyster pearl of a party to another, via smoky cabs and forgotten conversations with the people who drive them (way back then 3 years ago Uber wasn’t a thing) with nothing on my mind but the moment. I won’t be able to let go like that, to lose track of time. Not on a dance floor, or, even, on a long run. My kids will always be clouding my judgment, shaping my decisions, deciding my night.
Realizing I’ll never be able to set out into the world without my babies and not constantly feel the pull back to them, as if a magnetic umbilical cord is still attached, fills me with both joy and a strange a sense of loss.
Sure, I’ll hire a babysitter like everyone else does. Have dinner. Drinks even. See a movie. Mingle at a party. And dance, I’ll probably even dance. But a part of me, almost all of me, if I’m honest, will have one foot already out the door, in a rush to get back home to peak in to see if the humans I helped create are still breathing.
I’m wistful for my emotional independence, I really am. Because I can’t even run to Target alone without missing them. Worrying for them. Hoping with every pang in my heart that they’re okay.
That’s when it hits me, how close my wings have been clipped. It’s exhausting loving little people this much. And while my kids are the best thing that has ever happened to me, the lack of freedom a love like this entails is the hardest part of parenting, hands down.
So true! My in-laws took little E overnight this weekend, and while we had fun going out to dinner and hanging out, I missed him. I’ll never again have that carefree experience of doing whatever. I’ll always feel pulled to him, at least while he’s young and living in my house. It’s a wonderful love, but yes, it definitely changes things!
I obviously love being a mom but do miss traveling and date nights and lazy days- but I definitely don’t enjoy them as much when my little man is away from me, so I rarely do them.
Right. Like sometimes I wish I didn’t care so much! But everything I do leads back to them and what’s best for them. It’s a blessing and a curse! So glad you guys had some time to yourselves. Maybe if I made the time more often it wouldn’t be so unsettling to do stuff without them!
I am glad you get it! Away time is necessary just will never be what it once was. It’s great, but a little weird too always worrying about our kiddos!
Yay, my comment did go through! And exactly!
This is perfect. Perfectly said. Perfectly true. And I hope you already have plans to submit this to Scary Mommy? Because if you don’t, you should!!
Thank you my friend! I just might. It’s so weird to think that for now on I will always be someone’s mom. If it didn’t hit me with D, it sure has now. I cannot imagine how much more monlike and less free you feel now! Triple the love and triple the worries. Though now it prob feels awesome knowing they all have each other. It sure makes me happy to know D and L have each other if God forbid they didn’t have me or their Dad!
Yes…my freedom is so far gone, I can barely remember it ever existed. Except, sometimes when I am drowning in my kids’ bodily fluids and haven’t slept all night and am dying for a sugary coffee from our local coffee shop…but can’t go get one because I would have to drag THREE kids with me, I do long for those child-free days. So obviously I do remember and it weighs heavily sometimes. I will never be free again. Not even after they’re grown and out of the house, because I know a parent’s worry and wonder at their children just never ends. But you’re right…seeing their relationship bloom and blossom with each other, and knowing they will (hopefully) always have each other even after we are gone, is an incredible gift, to myself and to them. Or at least that’s what I tell myself as I play referee in the fight over who gets to play with the toy of the day for the 323rd time. 🙂
This comment is perfect. I am so glad I am not one in feeling this way sometimes!
Thank you for writing this! Every word was filled with so much truth! That is the life of mother, sad sometimes but mostly amazing. I am a young mother and the only one of my friends that has kids. Seeing their spontaneous nights unfold and watching them make better plans for their night while they’re with me, it’s hard. I struggle with it daily. But I must say, I would never want my life to change! I love my babies and the beautiful life they have given me! I appreciate your awesome post! Thank you for doing what you do 🙂 from one mom to another~
Hi Kylie! Beautifully put. Thanks for saying hello!