We can be a million different things, all at once.
Parenthood is a lesson in contradiction. We are asked to bend without breaking, to be “on” all the time and to do so as consistently as possible. But human beings are complex and nuanced. One New York mother of four recently wrote about this in a compelling post, capturing what it means to be a mother and a woman still trying to figure it all out.
Liz Petrone took to Facebook recently with a post that perfectly describes the emotions of being a mother. Petrone, who writes at LizPetrone.com, shared with Scary Mommy that she wrote it after her mother died unexpectedly. “I was 37 weeks pregnant at the time and when my son was born a few weeks later I really had to make space in my heart for the idea of both: both death and birth, both grief and joy, both loss and new life.”
Petrone’s post begins “I am both. I’m both ‘I NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE RIGHT THIS SECOND’ and ‘I hope you don’t expect me to put that bra back on and go anywhere.’ I am ‘for the love of all that is holy if one more person touches me I will fall to the ground in a pile of cold ash’ and I’m ‘someone get over here and snuggle me to sleep, already.'”
Petrone says most of the time, “we all have one foot on each side.”
It’s true. Most of us are a series of contradictions. There is, perhaps, no time this feels more urgent than in motherhood. We’re pulled in a million directions and as such, can be catapulted into happiness and sadness within minutes, constantly second guessing ourselves. We can feel moments (or months) of loneliness, though we’re rarely alone. Motherhood forces us to remember who we are, appreciating it all “because it goes so fast” while holding on to the person we were before this all began.
“I’m together sucking it all in until the day I die and proud of the beautiful belly I’ve earned,” Petrone writes. “I’m in four inch heels and big earrings and then too I’m in bleach-stained sweatpants and fuzzy socks. I’m the woman who doesn’t want vacation to ever end and I’m the one who CANNOT WAIT to get back home.”
Petrone tells us she believes women, especially moms, are under so much pressure, “to sacrifice themselves for the good of the family. We are BOTH mothers and individuals. There’s so much emphasis now to label everything, categorize a person or event or experience or feeling into one box or another, when really the truth is life is so much more nuanced than that.”
Her words are connecting with thousands who feel frustrated wearing so many hats but don’t want to be boxed in a corner. Who want our contradictions to be celebrated, not dismissed.
“I’ve never been so tired and I’ve never felt more alive. I’m a mom, and I’m still me,” she writes. “I’m afraid, and I’m still doing it. I’m lonely, and I’m blessed. I’m both.”