Can I get real with you for a moment? I mean really real. I mean put myself out there in a way that makes me feel frightened and exposed and I'm not sure I want to do this, but I think I'm going to do it.
Sometimes I think I'm sitting here making motherhood look a whole lot better than it actually is. I'm writing out the beautiful moments, because those are the ones I want to remember. The storybook moments and days spent holding hands at the park. The moments where I feel like the universe all comes down to me and him and nothing else. That is not the whole story. Not nearly. It's more complicated than that. It's more difficult than that.
I wish there were more of those Norman Rockwell moments. I struggle for them, long after them, but it's not much use. The truth is, most days Lucas spends the majority of his time rolling on the ground screaming and tantruming for various albeit equally inconsequential reasons. Most days I'm lucky to get a single hug or snuggle, no matter how brief. Most days, food ends up spit out or thrown on the ground while he yells "done." There are always redeeming moments that I look back on at the end of the day. There is always a smile or a sweet gesture that makes it all worthwhile. He'll hand me a car and say vroom and I'll melt into a weepy pile of love. But I'd be lying through my teeth if I told you it was all wonderful.
Because this is what most of our days look like: him breaking my heart right and left while I try not to fall apart and cry.
Can I tell you it's harder than I thought it would be?
I had this idea in my head of what having a baby would be like. And I knew, to some extent that it was fantasy, that I really had no idea what was going to happen, regardless of how prepared I was. But I felt, surely, that I was going to be good at this motherhood thing. That being a mother was going to be magical in ways I never imagined, even if harder in ways I never expected. I felt like this was something I was made for. I saw a life that was beautiful, like all those moments I've shown before.
I did not see reality. I didn't see myself wearing a ratty robe and eating cold fried chicken over the kitchen sink for breakfast with a baby on my hip (not one of my prouder moments). I didn't see myself crying and covered in vomit, watching The Biggest Loser while soothing my screaming newborn atop an exercise ball. Such moments were unfathomable. It never crossed my mind that I might not be that good at this. That I might struggle. I had no idea I would lose sight of who I was for a while, and that it would be a long journey back. A difficult journey which I still find myself navigating. It is easier now than it was before, but it is still hard. I think it always will be. You know, for all the advice and comments that everyone seemed so keen to give, no one told me it would be this hard. I wish someone had.
I don't know if it would have made the day to day any easier, but it would have made the struggle less lonely. I hope maybe someone will read this and feel less alone when someday they find themselves drinking a super-sized screwdriver far too early in the evening, while the love of their life screams red-faced and furious because he can't eat the crayons. These moments are part of the package too.
And when I look at it on the whole, the experience is still very beautiful. The worn and ragged aside the blessed and peaceful. The love made more exquisite by the struggle. There is something indescribable in the patchwork of motherhood, something I don't think I could ever have seen lest I was in the thick of it as I am now.
Can I tell you it's worth it, no matter how hard it gets?
At the end of the day, I rock him back and forth and his small hand reaches up to touch my face. His chubby fingers stroking away the heartache of our battles. I hum and sing the same songs every night. He is quiet, usually, and this is his way of thanking me. This is when the chord between our hearts pulls tight, and I feel loved once more. This is when I know he is mine. It is the moment I can count on to wash the wounds clean, to bandage and brace for the next day. Until tomorrow, my love.
The heartache is worth it. Can I tell you that?