Every time I try to write something about anything, I always end up saying the same thing: having young kids is hard. I could try to write “The Very Best Enchilada Recipe Ever” and would still end up writing, “Enchiladas would be great if I was able to sit down and eat because having young kids is hard.”
Of course having older kids is probably hard too, but right now I’m choosing to believe having a child over ten years of age is a lot like having an older dog; lots of sleep and occasionally letting them out to play.
Please don’t ruin this for me.
It is so boring after a while, this constant complaining about parenting. I hear myself night after night, slumped over a pile of pillows, driveling on about how little I’ve accomplished. How I haven’t gotten my hair cut in two years. How there is never, ever any point in really cleaning the kitchen floor.
Sometimes I think: Could I be more cliche? Could I be more “dreary housewife?” The only thing separating me from Debra Barone is a floral bedspread and bad lipstick.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about being tightly wound in motherhood. A lot of people read it and had suggestions for me. Everything from therapy and prayer to essential oils and diet pills. I do appreciate the suggestions, although I think most of us just want to be validated. Most of us just want someone else to agree that yes, this is hard and yes, it’s okay to lock yourself in the bathroom for three minutes to play flappy bird.
Yesterday I took my two young kids to be with friends, splash in a pond, and generally breathe in air that doesn’t smell like regurgitated peas. I try to do this pretty often, meet up with friends who also have young children. We all pack up our things and get in and out of our cars with bags of diapers, snacks, and water bottles and try to visit. Of course we never actually do. Or at least we never visit like we intend to do. Instead, we spend three hours chasing each other’s children, handing each other wipes, and repeating these three words: “Can you share?”
The kids ignore us until we try to have intelligent conversation or speak more than seven syllables.
Friend A: How is it going working part time?
Friend B: It is going pre–
Friend A: Guys, please stop pushing.
Friend C: I think Eva is eating a rock.
Friend B: Is this poop on my arm? This is definitely poop.
I leave exhausted, wondering why I ever leave the house with my kids at all. Then I sit on the couch and remember my friend Laura breastfeeding her sweet newborn and my friend Bethany play-chasing her daughter. I think about my friend Mo pressing her face up against her baby girl and then I start to weep. I cry real, happy tears because even though it is hard, at least it is hard right next to each other. Even though when I take my three-year-old to Target and he accidentally knocks over a table of notebooks and then runs like Batman into the next aisle, a retired grandmother of four will say, “It’s okay, I got it.”
Over and over I am reminded that despite the angry stares in restaurants when your baby is crying, there will always be another mom nodding and saying, “Honey, you’re fine.”
I’m not saying anything new. I don’t intend to. For the next ten, twenty, thirty-five years I will say it again and again so I never forget that while it is hard, it is okay because we are not alone. When you are standing in the middle of your bedroom with one sock, two pacifiers, four bedsheets but no idea why you came into the room in the first place: you are not alone. When you wipe up all the bananas off the kitchen floor only for your toddler to spill an entire cup of lemonade on the living room rug: you are not alone. When you try to make that baby latch but she just will not latch: you are definitely not alone.
When we say, “I can’t,” there is always someone else saying, “You can, because I am too.” You might not know them right away, but you will find them. You will see them on the playground, at the grocery store, hunched over in the back of their minivan trying to change two sets of poopy diapers. And even if you never speak, you can know there is at least one other person trying to make it to bedtime.
One other person trying to raise a human while staying a human. Another tired mama trying desperately not to be Debra Barone.
Strangely, it is always a comfort.