I thought this was going to be different. I thought I would be different. As a child, I was the girl who mothered baby dolls, who dreamed of little people calling me “Mommy” one day. I had no expectations that motherhood would be perfect, or that I would love every second, but I did expect that I would love it a lot more than I actually do. I expected to find a lot more meaning in the mundane, but these days all I find is a lot of mundane.
I love my children so deeply that it actually hurts. I am enthralled by them- how their flesh, and bones, and DNA weave together to produce these perfectly unique humans with their own quirks, desires and firey personalities. When I consider the miracle that is their existence, I am humbled by the enormous responsibility it is to be their parent. And this is a responsibility I take seriously :: to raise good, decent humans.
But the day to day monotony of mothering preschoolers is killing me.
Their neediness is killing me. And to be honest, I’m burned out. I don’t want to toast another frozen waffle, and I don’t want to find the exact episode of Paw Patrol my two year old insists on watching. I don’t want to then deal with the angry tears when I click the wrong one. I don’t want to argue with my 5 year old about the non-existent all-white dress she wants to wear to school. I have no patience for tantrums over problems I literally cannot solve at 7:00 am.
I pick my children up from school and embrace them, their faces and hands grubby with dirt, and their voices buzzing with all they did that day :: science experiments, cooking, crafts, and reading readiness activities. I’m grateful, but also sad, and guilty, “that school is doing such a better job with your kids than you ever could”, a condescending voice whispers. That voice is somehow able to drown out the competing message of “You’re a good mom, and you’re doing a good job.” Most days, it’s difficult to know which voice to believe.
I want to tuck my children into their beds at night, kiss their freshly shampooed heads and whisper “I love you to the moon and back,” and gently close the door as they drift off to sleep. I want to let this precious moment be the gentle punctuation and the soft landing to the energy and turbulence of a long day. Instead, the moment is shattered 30 seconds later, as they burst out of the door, demanding water, another potty break, or a forgotten stuffed animal. After the third or fourth round of this, I’m done. I’m tired, my patience is gone and the yelling, threats and bribes begin.
I never catch up, never check off even close to all the items on my To Do list. No matter how many hours I spend in a frenzy, scrubbing sinks, rinsing dishes, sweeping crumbs, and picking up discarded toys, there’s always more to be done. I never get the sense of satisfaction of a job completed, or a project finished, because there’s always a thousand other projects to be tackled. The pile of mismatched socks taunts me from the corner of the living room, and the overflowing bathroom trashcan mocks my failed attempts at keeping up housekeeping appearances.
I’m burned out. I’m tired of the endless pressure to make childhood magical for my kids. I’m tired of refereeing fights over cheap plastic Happy Meal toys while wondering why these tiny humans seem to possess exactly zero empathy. Why are the days so long, and yet there’s never enough time to get everything done?
But I will carry on.
I will keep going not only because I have no choice, but because I have hope in the end result. I have hope in the everyday, endless moments of repetitive monotony, chores, to-do lists, kisses goodnight, and unconditional love. I have hope that despite overwhelming frustration the days bring, something beautiful is being weaved together. I have hope in my faithfulness and earnestness in the promise to do better next time, time and time again.
I’m burned out, and yet, a flicker of hope remains buried in the ashes.