I believe you. I really do. I can already picture myself sobbing on the way home from dropping Maya off at her college dorm, sputtering about how just yesterday she still wanted me to lay beside her just a few extra minutes each night because she was scared of the dark. I know that when Layla walks out of our house carrying her last box of items to move to her own apartment I will have a void open the likes of which I can't fathom. So when you look at me in the grocery store with that wistful expression and say, "Oh, you're going to miss this one day, so you just soak this up while you can," I know that on some level you are right.
But, please. Let's stop pretending. Because I'm not going to miss ALL of this, and quite frankly, I'd love to be missing it for just one day right now. Because what you're conveniently forgetting in your selective romanticized memory of early motherhood is what mornings are like, or entire days of summer break. From the minute we are all awake (which is way too early), chances are I've yelled, screamed, threatened, cried, sighed, pointed, grunted, cussed, stomped, slung, pitched, ultimatumed, and declared "That's it! I've HAD IT!" all before you've had your morning cup of coffee. I have no personal space. Someone is literally touching me all day, whether it's this baby constantly wanting attached to my boob or my hip or the six-year-old flinging herself around and into me or the dog that won't stop following me and creepily staring at me. I spend every day feeling overwhelmed, behind in housework, friend conversations, developmental playtime, organizing, relationship building, school work, housework, bill paying, housework...and don't even get me started on people who tell me to just play with the kids because the dust will be there tomorrow. Someone's gotta clean eventually. And trust me, it ain't the six year old. Not without twenty minutes of reminding and patience-shredding selective hearing between every. Single. Item.
I spend enough time doubting myself and how I handle temper tantrums and pouting and cluster feeding and naptime. I already feel guilty every night for getting frustrated with a teething baby or losing my patience with a cooped-up hyper elementary-aged kid. I really don't need you presenting me with a reminder that I'm not appreciating what I have. Because I do appreciate it. So, so, so much. I curl into being a mother because it has so much intrinsic meaning and benefit.
But I also appreciate my sanity. So instead of platitudes about these being the golden days of motherhood, offer me something reassuring and real. Like, "It's completely normal to say you need to use the bathroom just so you can lock the door and have five minutes to yourself." (Even though the second I hit the toilet I hear "MOM! MOM! Where are you?!" And the dog is busting in to stare at me some more.) Or "My car smelled like milk vomit for seven years straight." Because we all know that when they're grown we will miss the sweet moments. But we all need to know we aren't terrible for fantasizing about driving off to lay in a chocolate bath and bask in complete glorious silence for just one full day.
So, please. Instead of telling me what I'll miss, tell me what I have to look forward to, hand me a chocolate bar, and let me be on my merry mother way.
Lynne Reeder is a mother, teacher, and lifelong reader. She's been penning poems and stories since she first learned to spell words. Her works appear in many online journals and other publications, and she received the title of Poet Laureate for hometown in 2016. She spends her time squeezing in writing drafts of her works around wrangling her two daughters and impulsive pitbull. She's been lucky enough to find love early, marrying her high school sweetheart Brandon, with whom she has been for over half of her life. She loves all kinds of tea, witnessing the moment a student discovers a new talent, and recognizing the infinite in the everyday. She hopes you enjoy her words as much as she thrives on creating them.