Despite the existence of thousands of parenting books and websites, no one can prepare you for the reality of raising human beings. I've often referred to motherhood as a roller coaster, in which you experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and there's no map to show you what's coming around the bend. And sometimes it's excruciatingly difficult.
I love my children more than I can express, of course. That's a caveat that shouldn't need to be articulated. Unfortunately, it's one that oddly requires defending any time a mom dares to share the hard parts of parenting in an honest, in-the-moment way.
Writer and mother Suka Nasrallah shared a heartfelt Facebook post about her morning shower and how it was interrupted 67 times by one of her children. The post has gone viral, as mothers everywhere see themselves in her words. She wrote:
He called for me 67 times while I was in the shower
Mind you I started counting half way in, as a way to keep myself calm and not scream back, so surely it was more than 67 times.
But for the sake of transparency, 67 times
67 times I listened to him yell 'mama' and bang on the bathroom door
While I stood under the hot water drowning in my tears because I couldn't bear the sound of his voice anymore and I had no will to reply
I had no will to keep a conversation going while I was in the shower
I had no will to keep a conversation when I desperately needed a few minutes to myself
Because the coffee just didn't do it and it was barely 9 am
Because they had been up since 6:45 that morning shouting demands at me
All I wanted was 10 minutes to myself, but clearly that was too much to ask
67 times that word rang in my ears
This is why mothers are so touched out
This is why we stay awake so late knowing we're going to regret it in the morning
This is why we we are always quick to snap
This is why we are so sensitive
Because we are desensitized
We are numb
We are so beyond worn out
Being needed all the time is simply draining, and a mother never stops being needed
We have no visible finish line
It has been many years since my own kids pounded on the door while I tried to get two minutes of peace in the bathroom. Now tweens and young adults, they're all sound asleep when I shower, but I remember those early years well. The little kid stage is adorable, but it's a LOT. And it's totally okay for a mom to say, "This moment sucks, I feel like I'm drowning."
And yet, even with many moms chiming in to say, "Yes! I've been there," some Judgey McJudgersons showed up in the comments to rail on this mom for complaining. One gentleman (ahem) even went so far as to lecture her about how motherhood requires dedication, patience, sacrifice, and love as if this mother doesn't know that and isn't hip-deep in all of those things. Others flat out said she was bad at parenting. Some presumably well-meaning but clearly amnesiac parents told her she should enjoy this time because someday she'll miss it.
I'm a parent of older kids and let me tell you I do not miss the shower interruptions and constant neediness of early childhood. I loved the toddler/preschool years for their wonder and innocence and sweetness, but there are parts that you couldn't pay me to relive. It's okay for two things to be true at once. Motherhood can be—and often is—magical and mind-blowingly hard at the same time.
And moms need to be able to vent during the hard times without people questioning their dedication to or love for their children. Nasrallah shared a follow-up post explaining that sharing the raw, real moments when motherhood is challenging doesn't in any way means she doesn't love being a mother.
I feel the need to "back-up" my recent post that has been circulating about my son calling me 67 times in the shower.
Motherhood is terrifying.
You're giving yourself whole to another person; committing to a lifelong relationship.
But somewhere in that fear, somewhere in the exhaustion, somewhere between not having the will to listen to someone calling you mama for another second, and shouting demands at you, and needing you for their survival, you'll catch a glimpse of your baby doing the sweetest thing.
You'll notice how the profile of your baby's face has become less chubby and more defined like that of a toddler.
Somewhere between the mental exhaustion and sleepless nights and these little glimpses, you'll find your heart swelling with a love so deep and so powerful that it quite literally sweeps you off your feet.
And in that exact moment you'll think to yourself, I'd do this 100 times over, just for this moment.
So yes, it's worth every sleepless night, every teething baby, every fever they may spike, every time they holler mama at you until your head is pounding.
At the end of it all, it's so very worth it.
Even when I complain and vent and say I just need to be alone, I still love my children with every ounce of my being, every bone in my body, every breath I take.
Saying I'm struggling does not, in ANY way, shape or form imply that I do not love my children. I adore them and would cross oceans for them in a heart beat.
The follow-up shouldn't have been necessary, though. We've got to stop demanding that mothers either sugarcoat the hard work of raising kids or chase every honest account of difficulty with some version of "but I swear I really do love my kids!"
Motherhood is hella hard. It's okay to say that and let it be a true statement all on its own. It's okay to share the beauty and the difficulty in equal measure. It's okay to let other mothers know they are not alone in their struggles and to let them know they are seen, even when they are staring at the shower wall, exhausted and overwhelmed and alone.
Thank you, Suka Nasrallah, for sharing that slice of truth about motherhood openly and honestly. And hang in there, mamas of little ones. It does get logistically easier. You will have time to yourself. You will sleep through the night. You will be able to use the bathroom uninterrupted.
And it's totally okay to yearn for that time to come, even while holding onto your children's childhoods as long as you can.
For more honest words about motherhood from Suka Nasrallah, check out her upcoming book, "Unfiltered Truths About Motherhood: Captive and Captivated."
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