“I’m done,” I said without thinking for even one second about how to respond to his innocent “how’s it going?”
He looked at me blankly. I guess not the answer he was expecting.
“Well, I just mean, I’m done with today. You know, ready for it to be over.”
Another blank stare. I realized that he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about.
And for a minute, I struggled to remember any other time, any time when feeling completely exhausted, worn out, used, tried beyond my patience, and completely out of energy at the end of the day – done – wasn’t the norm. Wasn’t the reality. (Not to mention that I was referring to 7:30 PM as the end of the day.)
“Well, you know, I guess that’s the way motherhood is,” I tried to explain. “Imagine working the hardest you’ve ever worked in your life, without any breaks, all day. And imagine that it involves people needing you – really, desperately needing you (or so they think, and that’s all that matters), and clinging to you, and yet also disobeying you and trying your patience and testing every boundary and rule that you set and pushing every button and confounding every theory and principle. But that’s the strange thing about motherhood – it’s just that terrible, but yet it’s also wonderful, and you don’t want someone else doing it for you – even when you want to quit every other minute – and it’s just exactly where you want to be, even though it feels like it’s slowly killing you. And so you arrange to have time away, and then you spend it thinking about your kids, and worrying about them, and missing them and their sweet smiles and smells. And then you are with your kids all day – or sometimes this happens even after the first few hours of the day – and you lament that you don’t get more time away, and you allow the feelings of jealousy to grow as you long to do anything alone, ever again, and you envy every other person on the planet who doesn’t have two little ones desperately needing them. It’s the most confusing thing you could possibly imagine.”
And then, finally, “Ah. Mmm.”
(Obviously I was more than this single, twenty-something guy had bargained for. After all, he’d just gotten back from an afternoon run and was simply trying to make small talk.)
“Sorry you had a hard day,” he says, looking at his food.
But, you know, that’s just it. It’s not just a hard day. They are all hard days. And they are all also great days. Hard days with great moments and occasionally great days with hard moments. Today I wanted to yell at my son at least a dozen times just for being obnoxious and playing with everything he wasn’t supposed to touch (you know, the microwave and mini-fridge and the hotel phones) and swat his little bottom for every time he disobeyed me or climbed on the table or stole a toy away from his sister. But also we had the greatest time building block walls and running into them with toy cars, and he was the CUTEST EVER dancing to music and pretending to play all the instruments and conduct the whole band and I hated it when he was running and split his lip and loved it when only singing sweet songs into his ear made it better. And my daughter was totally infuriating when she wouldn’t eat any solid food all day and cried nearly the entire time she was awake (which, thankfully or not, wasn’t much today), but then she’d give me the most adorable, dimply grin and all I wanted to do was snuggle her for the rest of my life.
So yes, motherhood is the single most confusing thing I’ve ever done. And yes, at the end of every day – which is whenever bedtime happens for both kids – I’m done. And it’s okay.
Because I’m going to get up tomorrow and do it again. I’m going to make some of the same mistakes and I’m also going to make some new ones. Occasionally I’ll remember something I learned the day before and it will make the next trip to the grocery store or dry cleaners or dentist just that much easier. I constantly want to quit, and at the same time, I don’t want to miss a single second. They are my insanity and my joy, my two little ones, and I am their Mom.