Here's a dirty little secret on the eve of Mother's Day: Motherhood sucks.
I always wanted children, mind you. I just never pictured myself stuck at home, covered in body fluids, sleep deprived, beaming while simultaneously partaking in arts and crafts at the kitchen table, as Rome burns around me. Because that's what motherhood feels like to me. I'm playing the fiddle badly and Rome is fucking burning. All the time.
I could say that overall, it's rewarding. But that would be bullshit. It's not rewarding. There are no accolades for motherhood. There's only survival.
At this point, you might be one of two things: horrified and ready to pen a scathing retort whereby you school me on the frigging miracle of motherhood, or nodding so hard that you'll need a collar for your whiplash.
Motherhood is like launching a start-up company before you know what you're going to sell. You're building the products as you go, beta testing new parenting techniques every twenty minutes, bootstrapping your way through toddler town, all whilst navigating critics who are writing reviews about you based on the two seconds they saw you at your worst one afternoon in a Target. And like a start-up, there's a super high likelihood that you're going to fail. At failing, I am a giant success. #Winning!
Saying that motherhood sucks for me doesn't mean that I don't love my children. Or that I wouldn't die for my children. Or that I wouldn't kill you for my children. Because I absolutely do and I positively would. My children, by the way, know all this. My maternal suckfest does not go unnoticed. There's a wicked lovefest in there too, reserved for the rare, quiet moments when no one is whining, fighting, or running late. It's between me and my kids and is frankly none of your goddamned business.
I find joy in external rewards: praise, promotions and recognition for a job well done. The trappings of work life — I thrive on them. Annual reviews? Bring them on. Comments on my latest blog? Now you're talking. Debates that don't involve the word "why" repeated incessantly, doors slamming, feet stomping or crying. Adult conversations. I am validated by others and not ashamed to admit it. I don't need you to LIKE me, but I will demand that you NOTICE me.
Kids have similar needs in the being noticed department. It's a mini battle between us as to who gets the spotlight: my smart, funny, super athletic son; my entertaining, quick-witted, empathetic daughter; my adorable, anxiety-prone, needy dog; or me. (The hubs doesn't even get to compete.)
Me, me, me. Acknowledged for more than packing chocolate milk in the lunch bags. Thanked for more than remembering the homework, library books, and important projects. Appreciated for more than being a glorified driver. I didn't sign up for this crap.
I always wanted children. Children with whom I could travel the world, molding little minds, imparting wisdom, creating future leaders. Answering thoughtful questions, debating and disagreeing, collaborating and compromising. While I have many fond childhood memories, I have also thoroughly enjoyed the friendship I have with my parents as an adult.
The best part of all my start-up experiences was the fun corporate culture. Maybe it's the "corporate" culture that sucks around here. Or my staff just isn't old enough for a good 360 review. It appears that the path to my quintessential version of motherhood is paved with many more sleepless nights, mountains dirty laundry, dreaded puberty, and mostly, ungrateful children. There are no accolades for motherhood. Only survival.
May the odds be ever in my favor.