Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Mother Load

Having two kids under four means living with a lot of baggage-- actual baggage, especially when one or both of them are still in diapers. Just to leave the house for any sustained period of time we need diapers, a change of clothes for the sometimes-accident-prone, a change of clothes for the puker, various snacks and sippy cups and don't forget a toy or two to distract them. If the trip is (lord help us) overnight, we rarely get out of the door without a small rolling suitcase for each of the hours we will be away.

It's a lot to haul. (Oh, my achin' back!)

And let's not forget that at any one moment, one or both of them might decide to revolt against gravity by having you carry their little heinies around. (And why exactly do I need a gym membership?)

But what makes the physical labor all the more arduous, and the thing that I think is hardest to quantify as a parent, is the emotional luggage we all carry around. (I'm going on a guilt trip, care to help me pack?)

In any given span of 5 minutes, I might feel alternately proud of my son for being polite, worried that my daughter is physically so small, angry that my once polite son is now pummelling my tiny daughter over a McDonald's toy, guilty that I ever take them to McDonalds, defiant because dammit, I work, and I can't do everything, remorseful because I am missing these days with them, relieved that I work out of the home when I look over and daughter is now pummelling son right back, guilty again because shouldn't I want to be with my kids every minute of the ever-loving day?, frustrated because the bickering. never. stops. and then right back to proud when I observe a moment of pure sibling love.

And then tired. A whole bucket of tired.

Tired from the physical work of raising these kids. From the emotional work of being engaged and involved with them, and worried about their well being.

And then there's the no sleeping because someone's sick/having nightmares/peed the bed/snoring in my left ear all. night. long.

It's no secret that being a parent is hard work. And this is where I am supposed to insert a diatribe about how it's all worth it, or how someday we'll look back and miss these days, or how some people are not so lucky as to have children... And I know that this is true.

But that's somewhat akin to making yourself feel better about your cold by comparing yourself to someone sicker, no? It is a cold comfort when the reality has not changed.

It is what it is, and what it is? Right now? Is exhausting. Dress it up however you might like, it's a long hard road peppered with hours of the night that you have not seen since you were a co-ed. So when she turns to me, now excited about her baby, and talks about the cuteness, and the outfits, and this is the sum of her expectations, I never know what to say.

It is a beautiful, terrible, joyous and painful journey she's preparing to take. And she has no idea. And if anyone had told me before I began my own journey? I would have never believed them. It had to become my own weight to carry.


Heather said...

Too true! Especially the packing gear to go anywhere. It's ridiculous isn't it?

angi said...

Love the daily thoughts/feelings...they ALL hit so close to home :)

Michelle said...

Wow, this is a great post - and the one you linked to? That was breathtaking. I hope it all works out, for this young mother-to-be in your life, because you're right. It's big baggage, this mothering gig.