Being a mom means constantly comparing your kid to Brenda’s kid, who was a master cellist at age 3, a composer at age 4, and a conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at age 5, all while on a strict macrobiotic diet of brown rice, beans, and sea vegetables. You should stop comparing your kid to Brenda’s kid, mostly because Brenda is full of shit. But you can’t.
Being a mom is the hardest job in the world because no matter how many hats you wear (nurse, therapist, tutor, chauffeur, mentor, and personal assistant, to name a few) and no matter how much you do for your little people, nobody fully understands the sacrifices you’re making or the work you’re putting in. There is no salary, no raise, no promotion, no medal, and no party. No one will ever truly appreciate you, even if they say they do. Because they don’t understand the emotional work that goes into being a mom. The fear you feel when you don’t know exactly where your children are at this exact moment. The fear you feel about what their futures hold, and what type of people they will become, and whether or not you did a good enough job. Because that’s all we can hope for, really. To be good enough. But are we?
Being a mom is the most gratifying job in the world because, no matter what’s going on in the rest of your life, there are wee creatures who depend on you and who make you relevant. Even if it’s stressful and frightening to loom that large in someone’s life…even if it sometimes feels like a burden to be depended on because it means that your needs have to come last…it still means that you matter. And there’s almost nothing that feels as good as mattering to someone.
Being a mom means having to listen to your child play the recorder, squeakily, for hours on end, and pretend that not only have your ears not been violated, but that you love the sounds they’re making and that you’re so proud of them for trying. Because we’re supposed to laud the attempt over the result. But, perhaps, with respect to the recorder, a little less trying would be nice.
Being a mom is heartbreaking because the people you love most in the world, the people for whom you would both instinctively and intentionally throw down your body in front of a bus to protect, find you annoying when you try to express your love for them in public. And often in private, too. Those kids, whose lives you would save without hesitating, find your very existence to be embarrassing, while their very existence makes you grateful to wake up each morning, and gives your life purpose and structure.
Being a mom means that, every so often, unexpectedly, all of the moving parts of your family come together in just the right way, and you have a glorious evening together at home without bickering or negotiating.
Being a mom is like being on a rollercoaster: one minute you are exquisitely proud of your child’s intelligence, and the next minute that same child is asking if he needs to wash the banana before he peels it.
Being a mom makes you feel defeated because you can never win. You’re either too available or not available enough. Too strict or too lenient. Too funny or too serious. Too cranky or too cheerful. You’re accused of making weird faces in public, but that’s just what your face looks like. You have to endure your children’s endless mood swings, all the while knowing that you can’t take their behavior personally. But you take it personally anyway, and you have to keep smiling.
Being a mom means not jumping out of your seat at your son’s basketball game and pounding on the huge kid who intentionally and too aggressively fouled your son, even though you really really really really really want to.
Being a mom makes you feel helpless because, no matter how many conversations you have with your children about how you want them to behave, they are who they are and they behave the way they behave, and there’s very little you can do about it.
Being a mom means trying not to laugh at your kids when they do or say stupid things.
Being a mom is debilitating because every happy occasion is tinged with a shadow of dread, since you are one day closer to never seeing your children again.
Being a mom means forcing yourself to not appear disappointed when your child does poorly on a math test, when you know he could have done better.
Being a mom means knowing that the best way to embarrass your children is to dance in public.
Being a mom means having to choose which of your children to prioritize at a particular moment in time, which makes everyone angry and offended. Even the child you chose to prioritize is offended, for some inexplicable reason.
Being a mom means having to smile through tears when you put your children on the bus to sleep away camp, when what you really want to do is crumple in a heap on the sidewalk because you feel like your heart just got on the bus without you. You can’t cry because it will make them feel sad, you can’t write letters telling them how much you miss them, and you can’t bear to look at their empty bedrooms all summer.
Being a mom means knowing that, no matter what, your kids are going to grow up and blame you for their problems (because don’t you blame YOUR mom?), even if all of said problems can’t be traced back to you.
Being a mom means knowing that, best-case scenario, your kids will grow up and leave you.
Being a mom means finally understanding how truly exhausted your mom was on that night in 1995 when she stayed up with you until 3am while you finished your physiology research paper. It means finally understanding why your parents were always still awake when you came home from a party. It means finally understanding how many pizza crusts your parents ate over the course of your childhood.
Being a mom means going to sleep before your oldest child and hoping that he doesn’t feel abandoned.
It means that on a Monday, your heart might swell to 1,000 times its original size when your son tells you that he loves your delicious chicken and that you’re the best mom ever, and that on Tuesday your heart might shatter into 1,000 pieces when that same child screams I HATE YOU!
It means listening to yet another story about a mean teacher, when what you really want to be doing is watching The Real Housewives.
It means loving your children even when they make bad decisions.
It means being constantly unsure if you are making any good parenting decisions at all.
It means saying sorry when you’re wrong. And you will be wrong.
It means having to be a role model 24/7, which is really fucking exhausting.
Being a mom means not knowing where you end and your children begin. Sometimes that’s a wonderful feeling, and sometimes it’s terrifying.
These kids…we would die for them, but sometimes it feels like we will die from them. We gesture at them with our heads and say, “They will be the death of me.” But, in fact, they will be the life of you. These kids turned your life right side up.