What Motherhood REALLY Looks Like…#Unfiltered
written by Victoria Hunt Fennell
On Mother’s Day my favorite aunt Facebook-challenged me to display an image that “made me feel happy or proud to be a mom.” (Seriously?! Who comes up with this stuff? It’s worse than those chain letters we used to get in the mail. You know, with the envelopes and stamps and all that bad luck hanging in the balance?)
It would have been easy to post this recent shot of my vibrant, sweet children being ridiculously adorable.
I suddenly became melancholy as I scrolled through my photo library in between washing, folding, and putting away seven loads of laundry. Because what else are you going to do when your husband offers to take the children for a full 12 hours but catch up on the chores that always seem to get neglected? And please don’t get the wrong idea about the father of my children. He made me breakfast in bed–with mimosas–and helped the girls make a lovely card before whisking them away for the day. I chose housewifery over a family beach trip and accepted the guilt that came along with avoiding my kids on Mother’s Day because I couldn’t take one more moment of that gigantic pile of dirty clothes staring me in the face.
As I scanned through countless memories of my loving little family, the images that jumped out at me were not the many wonderful moments of joy and fulfillment. Instead I found myself celebrating a completely different aspect of my journey as a mother.
The first moments of motherhood. I was glowing because we hadn’t yet left the hospital. Think pediatric nurses, prescription opiates, and a complete lack of understanding of the term “sleep deprivation.”
When you realize your mom loves your kid way more than she ever remembers loving you.
Those first few months I gave up wearing tops in the house because I was nursing every two hours and putting on shirts just meant five times more laundry because, you know, lactating. Also, the first and last time I had incredible boobs: “You can look all you want, honey, but if you try to touch them you are likely to get punched in the face.”
And anyone about to wave the indecency flag on maybe almost seeing a nipple in a picture of a breastfeeding mom, please remember that this …
is the gigantic poster next to the merry-go-round at the mall.
I had almost forgotten how awful pumping was. That sound still haunts me. Thank you Jesus for the person who invented the hands-free bra thingy. Otherwise I wouldn’t have even been able to check e-mail while I was out of commission for 20 precious minutes. Each time. Multiple times a day. At least this particular time it was in a friend’s lovely guest bathroom and not the awful stall at work. And my hair looks surprisingly nice. It hadn’t started falling out yet.
All the babies (furry and human) wanted to snuggle with the Snuggie. I just wanted a nap. I’m overheating in this picture but way too tired to do anything about it.
Carrying a baby while carrying a baby. My lower back hurts just looking at this photo.
That awkward moment when you begin to grasp that toddlers are monumentally more difficult than infants. And now you have one of each.
Hiking (and everything) is a lot more work than it used to be. There goes my back again.
That one time I tried to go pee by myself and instead of insisting on watching me on the pot, she decided to “help” with the laundry.
More “helping.” With the dishes this time. Seriously, no wonder why my dream is to clean the house alone.
That was the last roll of toilet paper.
Oh dear god. So gross. But not as bad as when she came down with the stomach flu and projectile barfed directly into my face while I was trying to comfort her in bed in the middle of the night. And that was less gag inducing than the time when she finger painted. On the walls. With her own poo. She was supposed to be taking a nap.
When you have so much diaper game that you can change one anytime, anywhere, without anyone ever knowing. And with a smile on your face. I never want to be that good at changing diapers again.
Fortunately, my kids have super amazing sleeping skills!
Unfortunately, only if it’s 4:53 p.m.
And anywhere but their own beds.
Whelp. I guess I’m sleeping on the couch again.
Let’s put it this way: Motherhood has been exhausting, and I’m an energy-filled preschool teacher, so that is saying something. Being a mom is not for the faint-hearted.
When I say mom I’m talking biological, adoptive, foster, dad who is “mom,” grandma who is “mom,” or any adult who cares for and loves one or more little humans most out of all the other people on the planet. Moms need to have super-human skills on the daily, hardly ever get credit for all the shit (literally and figuratively) we have to put up with, and usually feel like we are doing a crap job most of the time and screwing up our kids somehow. And we probably feel guilty about doing something or not doing something like 94% of the time.
But for all the times she throws a tantrum because she wanted to wear two different socks, he says he’s thirsty every 12 minutes for 2 hours, the fever won’t break, or “please, put on your clothes” fails to register for the gazillionth time, there are many more times when they are So. Stinking. Cute.
I think my heart just exploded.
Seriously! It’s babies! In a box! I could just gobble up that bald one.
So as I scarf down the rest of this half-eaten chocolate left behind in the box that was supposed to be for my mom (I didn’t say the husband is without faults), I toast all the moms.
Here’s to you. It’s a hard job, but no one else could handle it the way you do. I hope you brunched the heck out of Sunday. I hope the flowers last ‘til the end of the week. And I hope your cup runneth over with love and appreciation from your family…and alcohol.
And if you ever need a mom friend to text at 2:15 a.m. from the ER because your kid got a bead stuck up her nose and you apparently didn’t have better things to do with that $200, I’m your girl. I’ll likely be up. And in my delirium I will do my best to find and send an appropriate emoji.
This is motherhood.
Victoria Hunt Fennell smiles for a living, for years as a kindergarten teacher and now as director of a preschool in Northern California. Her future aspirations include not screwing up her two spunky daughters too badly, figuring out how to make dill pickles from scratch, and looking halfway natural on a surfboard.