I raised my voice again. In my defense, I had asked the two of them in my regular voice 3 times already. In their defense; between the stream of the water, the raucous giggles outlining their splashy play and the wails of their tiniest sister outside the bathroom door furious at having been set down yet again; I am certain they didn’t hear a single one of my requests to quiet down and wash their bellies next. In the flurry of the witching hour though, they rarely do. And I’m tired. And I can’t think when it’s loud. And I’m running late and behind in my laundry list of things to do. Not to mention the laundry, or dinner, or the clutter I never seem to get to clearing. It all closes in on me in that bathroom some nights. I’m overwhelmed in those loud, claustrophobic moments we have together before supper in the evening and again before breakfast and the sunrise. No one listens. No one hears. And then I raise my voice. Again. And then a lip trembles, a tear spills out, a spirit breaks and we all sit silently berating ourselves for not getting it quite right. Again. Not exactly the kind of quiet I was aiming for.
I know these days, they hurtle past me and my intentions at lightning speed. I know I’m going to miss these days. I know the day that my rooms and mind aren’t cluttered and the only laundry I have to fold or dinner I have to prepare is my own, the tears that spill from my eyes will be ones of regret instead of frustration. I know there are no perfect mothers, just perfect moments within motherhood. I know I am not the first mother in the history of mothers to wish she could do better. To spend her quiet, late night moments when she should be getting that rest she needs reviewing the guilt racked up from the earlier chaos. I know there are objective reasons why we mothers react the way we do. We are tired. We are spent. We are pulled in every direction except the one that used to be our own before we donned this sash of motherhood. We are expected to know what to do in a given moment. Instantaneously and with certainty. And then someone questions us. Or challenges us. Or goes on their merry way as if we had never spoke. With a voice filled with their own certainty and indignityat our suggestion, our direction, our pleading, they poke the bear with a straw. You know the one, the one that did in that camel?
We no longer belong solely to ourselves. Our bodies; and our minds with the brain cells our young have feasted on in their getting and growing here, I often fear, are now familial property. Our whole selves now belong to the once tiny egg of a being that is no longer tucked neatly under our hearts. Our bodies have gone through one of the most significant changes it ever will in our lives. Our hormones are rearranging and that fact alone is culpable in our response to those around us.
But yet, for all the objective and understandable reasons for our sometimes rash behavior, our frustration, our anger, our bewilderment and disappointment, we still feel let down by ourselves. And here’s a little secret Moms: most of us, even the happiest, most insightful, competent- appearing, go-luckiest of us; we’ve all been there and felt and reacted that. same. way. Ask anyone. We’ve been tired. We’ve been angry. We’ve been frustrated. We’ve been disappointed. And yet; God willing and the creek don’t rise, we do.
The very next day. And we try again.
It’s a practice. Staying calm and just mothering on. A verse that I stitch and mend over the impulse reactions I’m prone to and hopefully with the quiet refrain of its melody I’ll learn by heart one day.
One breath at a time. One heartbeat at a time.
Keep calm and mother on.