It’s Hard Work, This Mothering Business

I’ve been feeling rather raw lately.  My “good mama” hat has felt knocked from my head a few too many times and I’ve been filled with self doubt.

Several hundred times per day, three-year-old Alex tells me “Me MAD at you, Mama!”.

Seven-year-old Jack goes back and forth between being sweetly crazy about me to shouting that he hates me.

Ten-year-old Annalee has taken several nights this week to inform me of how unfair her life is, that I don’t spend enough time with her and that I’m a promise breaker and a liar.

And twelve-year-old Victoria… well, she reads this blog and gets annoyed if I talk about her, so let’s just say I do not feel like her favorite person in the universe.

I’m tired.

I’ve spent 12+ years singing lullabies, doing crafts, reading stories, playing games, taking walks, cuddling and doing everything in my power to make some pretty marvelous childhoods for these four little blessings.  And I know I’ve done well and they’re good kids and that they’re happy even when they’re yelling at me or acting petulant.

But this week… this week I’m feeling weary.

Last night, Jack fell asleep on the couch.  I covered him with a blanket and went and found a ball point pen, then wrote “Mama loves you!” on his palm.  This morning, he marched into my room and angrily showed me his hand.  “Look what someone wrote on me while I was sleeping!”.  When I explained that I had done it to be sweet, he asked for help in scrubbing it off.

Last weekend, Alex stripped off all of his clothes, climbed on top of our van and joyfully shook his business at a passing neighbor.

Several days before that, two well dressed women banged on my front door as I was cooking dinner to ask “Are those your children?”.  I looked out the door to see Jack holding a screaming, half-dressed Alex and trying to pull him off of my car (Alex dearly loves to scale cars).  I resisted the urge to say no and go back inside.

Sigh.

It’s pretty much minute-by-minute chaos around here lately.  There is puddle stomping, sidewalk painting and strawberry picking, yes, but then there is also sibling battles, tattling and wailing.

My good friend Tiffany called today to give me a pep talk.  She told me all the things I already know but needed to hear — that my kids will look back at their childhoods and appreciate them, that I’m doing a good job — and that I need more chocolate.  ;)

And as I am writing this, Jack just appeared under my window gathering rose petals and asking me to come down and join him.  He has apparently forgiven me for the hand graffiti and has decided this is one of the times I’m fabulous.

It will be a few days before I get my mama groove back, and I guess that’s okay.  In the meantime, I was especially nice to myself today.  I asked Daryl to watch the boys and took a rare afternoon nap.  I chatted on the phone for an hour.  I’m off to spend some time with Jack now, but after that I have definite plans that involve hot baths, good books, bad TV and bowls of ice cream.

Some days there’s more screaming than usual.  Some days we aren’t so appreciated.  I’m comforted by the fact that those days pass, and the hard work does pay off even when you think it was wasted.  Some little boy brings you a drawing of your favorite garden spot and asks if you’ll spend some time with him, and you realize you didn’t do such a bad job after all.

13 Comments

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13 responses to “It’s Hard Work, This Mothering Business

  1. Pam JWM

    This might be my favourite post ever of yours, even better than the one that gave us “permission” to have a messy house. I *really* needed to hear this, and probably will again from time to time, when I feel like I don’t measure up against the blogging mamas of the Internet. Thank you for knowing that there are other weary mamas out there that needed to hear what your great friend Tiffany has to say to you when you feel worn out! Enjoy your indulging!

  2. Juggling Motherhood

    you have summed up the reality of motherhood perfectly. we are not super women, we are not saints, we are human beings who get tired but love our children all the same.
    My daughter started a blog, and “I” thought it would be sweet if I wrote her a lovely note on her blog. I was thinking this would be another way for me to show her I love her. Turns out she wasn’t exactly pleased with it being visible to the world, and promptly deleted the comment. Just like you with the hand written note, it wasn’t exactly what I thought was going to happen…but hey, if our kids did exactly what expected of them, we would miss out on those wonderful moments like your son drawing in the garden, and my son drawing a butterfly for me to keep ’cause he “wuvs me”.
    Hope you have a good rest. The beauty of being a mother is that we can always start the day over again tomorrow ;)

  3. Sweet mama, thank you for your words! You are Real and I so appreciate that (: I am sending you strength, that you might pull through quickly and feel proud & inspired again (: xo

  4. I love ya. That’s all. :D
    xxxxx

  5. Paula Thompson

    Thank you! I really, really appreciated this; in a week when my 3 yr old has lapped water from the dog dish outside a shop and run away when called, and my 5yr old has swung another child round by the hood of her jacket and made her graze her knees, it’s good to know that someone else who loves their kids and devotes so much of their time to trying to make their lives good and happy still has to have these moments! I especially like the bit about the boy ‘shaking his stuff’ – how you must have cringed, yet to me that’s hilarious! Think you well deserve some time for yourself, thank you for sharing this : ) xx

  6. Well, gee… When your “good mama hat” gets knocked off, I hereby replace it with the “good mama sparkly-tiara” (and then duct-tape it on…) No matter the yelling and the “business” shaking, you’ve got good mama mojo…

  7. Thank you for such an honest post. It is lovely to know that I am not the only one who feels this way sometimes. And those “sometimes” can last for weeks. Oh, and if you find good mama – tell her she is a fraud. I’m sure there is no such thing :) Maybe good-enough mama is good enough?

  8. Kristen

    You feel exactly how I do this week…..the kids have been whining and squabbling despite my best efforts. We know we are good mama’s and love our children. Every mommy has good days, good weeks and bad days and bad weeks. Our children know we love them and can always come to us for comfort and I want my children to carry that belief well into adulthood.

  9. Shawnna

    Oh, we have all been there! Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a close friend. Hope you are back in your groove shortly :)

  10. Kez

    I’m glad you were kind to yourself today. I admire you so much and now even more so for the honesty of this post :)

  11. I love this post, Alicia. You have such a way with words that make sense and easily speak to me. Thank you! Big hugs. You are a fantastic mama!

  12. katherinemarie

    Your post pulled at EVERYONE of my mama heartstrings. I’m with you… sometimes the chaos seems unbearable. Sometimes the days seem endless and long. Sometimes I wonder why I do what I do. I’m so glad you took time to be EXTRA nice to you!!! You rarely find time to nap or rest/ read???! You are an inspiring, wildly creative, amazing mama… that takes an abundance of ENERGY! Doctor orders more rest and recuperation time for magical mama!!! :):) Please know I’m with your in thoughts and prayers… sending endless hugs and love.

  13. This is a wonderful post! It is such a true picture of motherhood. And, while I admit I chuckled at the thought of the “well dressed ladies” at your door, instead of mine :) I’m sure they’re due to come knocking here, any minute, too.

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