To all the shit moms out there…

I used to be a high performance athlete. I represented my country multiple times internationally. I suppose I will always be an athlete, it’s a mentality that I can’t seem to shake.

I also have my master’s degree and took pride in my education with a 3.9 GPA.

I love identifying a challenge and then finding a solution. It is also what I did for my profession. I worked with people who had been injured, often horrifically, and I helped them recover and return to whatever normal we could find. Often there were incredible challenges with multiple physical, emotional, and psychological barriers. It involved hard work, creativity, experience, optimism, and faith.

I say this to give context to who I am. I am achievement oriented. I love a challenge, and I love helping people improve, recover, thrive, and I love the pursuit of those same things for myself.

Along the way, I became a mother. I was so happy when I was pregnant. My first pregnancy was not planned. I hadn’t intended to become pregnant one year prior to the Olympics, on the heels of my lifetime best performance. Unplanned or not, I relished in the miracle of life, even the not so miraculous nausea, as it was all part of the process.

I don’t believe it makes sense to pick and choose which parts you like of something. I don’t think it makes sense to rejoice over the wonder of watching your baby kick, but then curse the nausea. They are products of the same thing, so I embraced both, and practiced gratitude when it wasn’t always easy.

To me, pregnancy and childbirth felt like the closest you get to life and death. Life literally passes through you. Where there was one, there is now two. It’s a beautiful and amazing process to watch your body evolve through. It was also an incredibly empowering experience to see what my body was truly capable of.

Throwing hammer was cool and all, but literally having life move through you…now that is incredible.

After my second daughter, I remember feeling incredibly challenged. I wasn’t working, I wasn’t writing, both kids were still home, and I found I was just….bored. I was so in love. I love my kids, I love being a mom. How could I feel so bored, or unfulfilled, or like I was missing a piece of myself?

I love my husband. He’s sexy, smart, loving, compassionate, and we still knock boots on the reg. So, I would marinate on this question: why am I bored, unfulfilled, why do I sometimes feel wanting? Lacking?

What I came up with is motherhood is just hard. You have to be ever present to make sure these little beings don’t accidentally hurt or kill themselves, but they don’t really stimulate you mentally. So, if you’re achievement oriented, it’s hard to get that stimulation that really fulfills you.

I don’t have passionate conversations with my one year old where we volley ideas back and forth on topics and ideas that get me excited and thoughtful, that invigorate or challenge me.  We are often objectified by our kids. Which is normal, but doesn’t feel great.  

My older daughter does ask me questions, and apart from an occasionally brilliant insight, she typically bombards me with 5000 questions in rapid succession like “can I have water,” “why,” “I’m hungry (which is an indirect question),” “why?” and before I can answer the first, she has rifled off ten more, which is mentally exhausting, and I often fly off the handle, because I’m trying to manage her sister, as well as dinner, as well as XYZ, and then she looks at me like I’m the crazy one!! Then she doesn’t even listen to the answers I give her… SERIOUSLY?!?!

The lack of mental stimulation, but the constant requirement of mental space and energy is HARD! I do not believe it is unique to my situation, but it is part of motherhood. I’m sure there will be a day when I stop fantasizing about being in my house ALONE for a few hours without having to tend to someone else’s needs, and that day will likely be the same day I understand that these were the precious years.

So, as I embraced the nausea of pregnancy, I should embrace the shackles that come along with this period of motherhood.

Returning to work, starting this blog, all made a big difference. I am now having adult conversations, helping people, and being creative. I am getting the mental stimulation that I crave, and I’m being challenged. Thankfully, I am still able to work from home, and that brings up new challenges, but I don’t want to give up these early years with my babies.

What would Cavewoman do? Well, if she was able bodied, she would be out hunting and killing shit. She’d be physically challenged, and mentally stimulated as she worked with a group of peers to accomplish the desired goal. It would require skill, fitness, and teamwork. Granted, she wouldn’t be doing this immediately after birth, but she would go back to being a physical member of the group, if capable, and the older children and aging tribe members would have tended to the children.

Motherhood just isn’t really meant to be done the way that we are doing it nowadays. You know what I mean? We would have had so much support, within a multigenerational community, and we wouldn’t have been going it alone, as most of us are now. I cannot even imagine single parenting.

And when I wasn’t working, although I longed for mental stimulation, I shouldn’t underplay the amount of emotional stimulation my children gave, and continue to give, me regularly. Which, therein lies the conundrum. It’s a complex labyrinth where you feel emotionally raw from all the love and joy, but mentally exhausted from the neediness and readiness required, and then mentally under stimulated by the content.

Motherhood can just be fucking rough…it is really fucking tough at times. It’s the hardest thing to explain to people that don’t have kids, because when you’re explaining it, it can sound awful and undesirable.

And you know what? Sometimes it is… Sometimes it’s ugly, and you scream at your kids. Sometimes your house is a fucking hazmat zone, and you still eat food off the floor (guilty). Sometimes you feel like a horrible human being for how badly you want to slap the shit out of your kids. Sometimes you can’t remember the last time you had an adult conversation without being interrupted 900 times.

And then sometimes your little one grabs your face with two hands and brings you in for a kiss unexpectedly, or completely ignores your bitchy mood and speaks to you with a tone equal to pure love. Sometimes they make an incredibly thoughtful observation about life, or they say I love you. Sometimes they share tenderly with their sibling, or they laugh! Like really laugh. Like the kind of laughter that doesn’t understand what it’s like to have a dying parent, a broken heart, or a lonely soul.  Sometimes they simply smile and it lights up their eyes in a way that causes the fireball of rage in your belly to bubble up and melt your heart into a fucking giant pool of liquid hot magma love.

And then you realize you’re a shit mom and you begin to question whether you deserve their amazingness. But you do! I do. I constantly convince myself I do. I mean, I brought these little shits into this world. I deserve all the good that comes with that, don’t I?

As I embraced everything about pregnancy, I absolutely have to embrace everything about parenthood. Which brings me back to gratitude. It’s easy to be thankful for the love, and the snuggles. But the sleepless nights, the painful births, the temper tantrums, and the snotty noses, the incessant questions, and the sibling rivalry – that’s where you grow. That’s the resistance that grows the muscle to be a more compassionate person, a more loving and empathetic human. Those are the moments that motherhood is the toughest, and those are the moments I am most grateful for.

In the end, it is these tough moments that will forge me into the mother I become, not the easy ones. So drink in the tough days, let them pass through you, just as their little beings did on the night they were born.

Give the greatest thanks for them, and know that a bad day can always be quelled with a sweet kiss and a gentle hug, which is always just around the corner. I surrendered to motherhood the moment I became pregnant. And in the tough moments, I think if I practice surrendering, if I give thanks, if I remain present, that I’ll be able to move through this phase with more grace…and possibly less swearing.

Food for thought: What was the toughest age with your little ones?