Thoughts on Motherhood

Some days, I can’t believe having kids is so popular — it’s the hardest, most exhausting and underpaid job there is… It doesn’t seem that hard on the face of it.  They are little and you are big, and indisputably in charge, right?  Wrong,  You are their slave 24/7.  And you can’t do anything right. This was my mother’s mantra – “I’m always the bad guy”, but I just thought she was being melodramatic.  Now I know better…


ScaleAs a baby, they want you to hold them while standing up.  Sitting down is unacceptable.  They have some sort of built-in sensor — if I even thought about sitting down, the screaming would start.  But sitting down without holding them was okay, right?    Wrong again, even at 16 months old, my daughter was pushing me out of my seat.  Yes, I usually let her, and I soon found out that I never chose the right seat on the first try, ever.  Sometimes, there was no right seat.  When you’re so tired, you’re about to drop, this little charade becomes ridiculous. But you want peace and quiet too, so you find out just how devious you can become in order to sit down and rest in peace.  Fortunately, tot takes after me and Mr.Tot and is easily distracted by bright shiny things, so bait and switch is relatively easy… so far – thank GOODNESS.  Now that she’s two, the “mommy, mommy” phase has hit hard.  Mr.Tot has to pour on the fun.  Fortunately he’s good at it.


My day often consists of trying simply to get enough of a break to survive through the day.  Yes, I should consider daycare or babysitting, but I am a penny pincher and balk at this.  I should be able to do it all.   Plus there’s the whole economy thing going on, and the fact that our good fortune may turn at any moment.  So, I toil on.  I understand now why so many people insist on living near their families regardless of whether or not they actually like them.  They want to use them for daycare!  I admit I am jealous of all those who can call a parent or in-law on a moment’s notice to step in and provide a break.  My life has taken me geographically away from all members of my family, and it would be nice to be closer to all, for many many reasons, daycare and playdates among them. 


BikerIn some ways, things have gotten easier in toddlerhood.  Tot can entertain herself for minutes on end, and loves to play outside, and in the car, allowing me to get some yardwork done and allowing her to explore the yard, until she gets too close to the rocky fountain or the 3 foot drop or running out into the street….  There’s always something to worry about.   Now that I’ve read Harvard did a study which found no deleterious effects of television on young children, I don’t even feel guilty about her obsession with Dora and Diego and Clifford.  Fortunately she gets that she loses her privileges if she violates our agreements.  Though “agreements” may not be an accurate description.  Sometimes I feel like a dictator, sometimes the dictatee.  “Mummy, SLEEP”  she orders, and I, too tired and worn out to resist, lay down and fall asleep, usually before she does.  If I try to leave before she’s unconscious, I usually get attacked in a love-fest hang-banging kind of way, which while endearing, is hazardous to my health.


InfraRedPathToday was particularly difficult.  I was trying to take some infrared pictures of a lake, which requires setting up a tripod and taking very long exposure – 10 15 seconds.  I had been wanting to do this for months and finally decided to try it today.  Bad choice.  It was hot and muggy weather, which is like Kryptonite for me. ( As a reference point the A/C set to 77° felt like icy arctic air.)  As I set up the tri-pod, it started to rain, so I put up an umbrella over the camera. She immediately ran to be under the umbrella, hanging on the tri-pod in the process.  So much for a steady shot.  Then she ran off down the path repeatedly despite my threats and I had to run like mad to catch her and bring her back.  I gave up taking pictures after about 5 shots which got screwed up by the rain and humidity anyway, and carried the tripod with camera and umbrella covering it in one arm, and screaming tot horizontal under the other, having caught her on one last race for freedom, in the rain back to the car.  By the time I got her strapped in, I was dripping with sweat.   I was ready to call Mr.Tot to intervene, but I refrained as he was feeling under the weather.  


Unfortunately this was just the beginning of her rant.  I should know better by now than to travel without water.  She gets completely crankified when she is thirsty.  So, there we were driving to the library with, gasp, no water!  Of course, Tot had a burning need for water, which she felt obliged to inform me of every second and a half for 10 minutes, which may not seem like so long, until you’re locked in the car with crankified Tot!  Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.  It was still raining – Maybe I could just stick her out the window, face up?  I patiently tried to explain we didn’t have any, but would get some at the library.  And to get her to just stop with the broken record, I told her she couldn’t go to the library if she didn’t stop talking.  At which point, she claimed she didn’t want to go to the library. Fine!  I didn’t want to face the public with a whiny tot anyway.  However, since we were already there, I pulled up dropped off my umpteen books in the drop-off bin which earned me a round of honking from someone who couldn’t understand what the special lane was for.  I was more than ready to deposit Tot in the car with them – they deserved each other!  


CrazyDriverAs soon as we left the library parking lot, Tot started crying to go to the library in an even more annoying and pathetic way – which I hadn’t realized was possible.  I made a deal with her that if she stopped crying and talking, we could go to the library.  Although her complaints did not stop altogether, I was not up for her thirst-induced tantrum continuing the whole 18-hour, I mean 12 minute, ride home, so we pulled a u-turn and visited the library.  Still raining, pavement steaming.  To her credit and maybe due in part to my threats, she did behave herself for the whole 15 minute visit to the library.  I, in turn, dutifully obeyed when she told me it was my turn to drink from the bubbler, and peace was restored.  Which is a very good thing, because the alternative involved a single phone call, raising bail, hysterical laughter, and unsightly stripes.  


All-in-all, her tantrum was mercifully short-lived, but it left me completely wiped out.  Either I’m a wimp, or this motherhood thing should qualify for hazardous duty pay.  What, you mean, I’m not getting paid – at all?  Oh… the love of a child?  Oh yeah, that.  Okay, yeah, it is pretty great.  Yes, there’s really nothing in my life that’s better. So that’s my compensation. Hmm…   How about vacation?  Can I get some of that?  Oh yeah, Tot vetoed that when she got so sick we cancelled our trip to Italy.  And then there’s knowing that it only gets harder as time goes on….  Is that really possible?  Am I medically cleared for this job?  Oy vey.  Or as I taught Tot to say with hands clutched to each side of her little face, “Ohhh my.”  Okay, yes, it’s fun to teach your little mini-me’s to do some really cute or silly gestures.  But really, people voluntarily have more than one of these …  darlings?  Hmm, are they easier in pairs, or packs?  Do I risk having more?


I know my story is not unique, and perhaps it’s only mild in the Salsa-ratings (you know, mild, medium and spicy) of raising children.  But it’s constant, and it’s exhausting, and were it not for the steam released through this blog, I’d probably explode.  I understand the need for little pills, though it’s not my style.  I understand the need to get away.  The moms who look joyously happy every second of every day are on something.  There’s no other possible explanation.  Either that, or they are really aliens.  Hmmm, that could be.  


SleepingAs Mr. Tot said – most people don’t get how much work being a parent is until it’s too late…. and then they’re hooked anyway.   Hearing “I love you too, Mommy” in an ernest incredibly sweet little voice, the giddy excitment at seeing you after a lengthy 2 minute absence, and the amusing antics they pull when they’re not driving you crazy almost makes up for all the #$@&*% they put you through.  

1 comment to Thoughts on Motherhood

  • thecrazygrays

    Your rant is totally acceptable and totally appropriate. I think it helps all of us mother’s out there to be honest about what is really going on. I know I personally don’t like putting on a fake facade. Pretending that everything is okay when it’s really not is not my style. So get everything you need to say out on here and it will help you be a better mom. Being honest usually helps everything.

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