A few years ago, I sent my husband a photo of poop. More precisely, it was a picture of my 2-year-old’s poop-smeared room, which I discovered upon hearing furniture screeching across the tile while he was supposed to be napping.
I opened the door with a pit in my stomach, muttering, “Please don’t let it be poop. Please, don’t let it be what I think it is,” because this wasn’t the first time. (Thank the stars for tile!) No, we’d been down this road a few times before, and it wasn’t pretty. Despite my pleas, it was indeed what I dreaded, and it was more gruesome a scene than from prior incidents.
I just stood there, momentarily transfixed by the sight surrounding my precious, tarnished toddler and thought, What the fuck? Pardon the language, but seriously, what the fuck?! I hauled the perpetrator to the shower, donned my latex gloves, cleaning tools, and trash bag and set to work. My youngest began wailing from his seat in the viewing area while I crawled around on all fours, cringing and scrubbing and trying not to breathe through my nose. As I worked, the baby wailed and my dirty toddler sang in the shower upstairs, and I began to cry. It was the icing on the cake of an already challenging day. It was the iceberg to my Titanic.
And I thought to myself, I didn’t sign up for this. No where in the contract of motherhood did I see a clause for crawling around on all fours while scrubbing my son’s poop off of the floor. How did I miss it? Where was it hidden? Somewhere between singing the alphabet four-thousand times and lecturing him on road-crossing safety? Someone please break out the agreement and show it to me because I don’t recall agreeing to this.
But of course I did. The moment I decided that I was ready to be a mother, I accepted every term and condition applicable under caring, loving, cleaning, and protecting another human being. I would do anything for my children—anything. This includes the activities I’m not so fond of—the duties that come with doodie and anything else these kids want to throw my way (although, please not literally unless it’s a ball).
Fast-forward to today, my oldest is now 5 and my youngest is 3. We’ve been on a roller coaster of parenting ups and downs since that day in the poop-smeared room. I have faced hard things, scary things, sad things. Most days, I handle it with grace and humor. Most days, I feel invincible, like Superwoman.
I am not invincible, however. I do have mental and emotional limits and tolerances—you know, those pesky things that make me human. When I say I’m having a hard parenting day, I’m not entering into a competition. This isn’t “my day has been so much harder than your day” or anything else of the sort. I know others are facing challenges that I cannot even comprehend. Don’t believe for even a second that I haven’t thought of you in your challenging situation and felt a little guilty in relation to my own. I have, and I did, and I do. It often feels as if everyone is in a constant “I have it better or I have it worse than you” game of one-upmanship these days though. I don’t care for the pettiness to be frank.
At the end of the day, despite whatever we are struggling with or triumphing over, we are all in it together. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we supported each other on equal ground rather than trying to “win” a nonexistent prize? I have really, really good days, and I have some really awful days and everything in-between, and I’m not too scared to admit it.
So here I am, standing on my mountaintop, giving you a long-distance “We’ve got this!”
To anyone dealing with a child who is ill, I salute you!
To anyone forging a new path with a disabled loved one, I salute you!
To anyone struggling with infertility, I salute you!
To anyone with a circus of children who are ready for bedtime, I salute you!
To anyone who is tired of the “When are you having children?” interrogation, I salute you!
To all parents, to no parents, to young and old alike, I salute you!
To anyone and everyone who is having a hard parenting day, in a crappy job, working out relationship/family/self issues, I salute you!
To all of you who are having a fabulous day today, get lost. Ha! Just kidding! I salute you!
And especially to anyone out there who is unsuspectingly reading this while their toddler is downstairs smearing their room with unmentionables, I salute you and good luck.
Now off to make pancakes for dinner with my loves. We never did get to the grocery store today, but there’s always tomorrow.
This post originally appeared on Mamalode.