Decaf coffee was probably my first bad decision today. Actually, come to think of it, maybe getting out of bed at all was. Today was not my day. I argued with my toddler. I was bitter. I said a four-letter-“s”-word more than once…maybe more than three times. I was ungrateful. And frustrated. And perhaps a bit too eager to throw in the towel.
This, after the thought that life really couldn’t get any sweeter last night. And this, after my heart almost burst with love yesterday for that little human who almost ruined me today.
Motherhood makes me feel like a lunatic sometimes.
When I was pregnant with Teaspoon, people asked me if I was excited. My reaction—steady and emotionless—probably should have been the first clue-in that I wasn’t going to fall into the category of a doting, love-at-first-breath mother. I watched as my friends fell head-over-heels for their sweet bundles of pooping joy before they left the hospital. And I sat in awe as they talked about their love for nursing and the bond and the baby and the boobs and IT WAS JUST ALL SO AMAZING. I couldn’t relate. And some days, I still can’t. For as devastating as it was for me, I don’t think I realized the depth of transition, emotion, detachment at the time. The truth is that I think I’m still grappling with Teaspoon's “fourth trimester”—a time frozen in my mind of which I only recall sleepless nights, sore nipples, and his incessant crying. I’m also just now realizing how difficult of a baby he really was.
Maybe motherhood is like this—the gradual realization that nothing is how you intended it to be and everything is just as it is supposed to be.
I tend to err on the side of pessimism and on bad days, like today—the ones that start with 3 night-wakings, 2 trips to the potty for my acorn-sized bladder, 1 diaper blow-out, 2 skipped-naps, 2192 time-outs, and frustration that boils out of my mommy-heart and drips on the floor behind me like an over-thought wedding veil—on bad days I convince myself that no other children, no other mother, no other woman has ever felt like this. I somehow finagle my heart into believing that the clock will never hit midnight and my head into thinking that at any time in the schedule book, I’m way beyond the grips of Grace.
My Grandparents had a horse named Skojo when I was growing up. I first learned to ride when I could barely walk. She had a long back—perfect for 4 or 5 grandkids climbing up and taking a leisurely stroll around the pasture. She handled bare-back perfectly—which was convenient for the kid who hated the saddle. I was old enough to be riding solo when she first bucked me off. Apparently she had decaf coffee that morning or something—it just wasn’t her day. I don’t even remember now who was there to pick me up out of the dirt (manure?). The point, though, is that I fell: off the horse, through the air, into the dirt bruised and scraped and shocked. And the bigger point is that I got back on. Not immediately. Not willingly. Probably not even gracefully. Given the (ehem) emotional child that I was, I would imagine that the scene was ugly-full of tears and wailing and kicking feet. (Something to match one of my own toddler’s tantrums today about reading the wrong page in a book or refusing to let him watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for the 92nd time this month.) Skojo waited while I climbed back on. My memory has conveniently deleted the subsequent events—for all I know, I could have been bucked off again and landed on my head, an event which would surely explain so many things about my life right now.
But I got back on the horse.
The little minion is sleeping now. The one is my stomach is training for the 2034 Summer Olympics gymnastics events. And I am here…finally, in the quiet dark of deep breathing. I stepped on two toys on my way to the couch and half-tripped over a pile of clothes waiting to be taken to the thrift store. The dirty dishes are piled in the sink, the laundry is spilling out of the washroom, and the toilet still needs to be cleaned. But I am here. Finally present for today—the day during which nothing went how I would have hoped and everything went as it was Planned.
And maybe tomorrow will be different. Then again, maybe it won’t be. My kid will still be almost-two. My heart will still work overtime for the mommy-bond-with-holes. My dishes will still be undone. And the toys will still spill out of their hiding places and find their way to the soles of my feet. But the clock will have struck midnight and we’ll all get back on that proverbial horse trying to ride again. And maybe tomorrow instead of decaf, I’ll slowly sip the Grace that is sure to come with each new morning. And maybe I’ll let life buck me off a few times and depend on the Hand with Holes to pick me up. And if I’m eager enough about life, I’ll watch the kid-who-makes-me-crazy “toot toot” his trains around the house and rebuild the train track 39 times before 9am and savor the strips of sunlight in this gray of winter, knowing full-well that this day and this stage and this life can only be lived once.
And everything is just how it is supposed to be.