Momservation: The grass is always greener on the other side of the diaper bag.
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I have arrived at my destination. I am free to move about the cabin. My beverage has been served. I’m not gonna lie—this feels great.
It was 15 years ago this Mother’s Day that I thought they were going to have to straight-jacket me into my seat on the ride they call Motherhood.
Let me set the scene:
It was a gloriously warm May day. All the mothers on Hubby’s side of the family were present for a picnic around the pool to celebrate Mother’s Day. My MIL sat at a table laden with snacks sipping her wine as she basked in the glory of a job well-done, surrounded by her two children and four grandchildren ranging in ages from one month to 12 years old.
My SIL and significant other lounged on blankets on the grass with plates full of food and ice cold beers. Occasionally they glanced at their girls, ages 7 and 12 splashing in the pool while they casually chatted or closed their eyes to bask in the sun—a picture of relaxation.
Meanwhile, Hubby was on edge after pinning down our protesting 18-month old son to put sunscreen on him, then fighting with him to wear a life vest before chasing him around the pool to make sure he didn’t fall or jump into a pool with no shallow end. As I paced in the shade with my fussy newborn who hadn’t let me sleep for weeks let alone take a moment to sit, I pushed all the food to the center of the table so my toddler wouldn’t knock it all to the ground or soak it with a wet hand when he reached for snacks. An escaped grape popped in my mouth would be my only chance to eat.
I desperately wanted to join the party with an alcoholic drink (and let’s face it—take the edge off), but the prohibition continued into its 10th month with breastfeeding. And because duty (and doody) called, I had to leave my own celebration to change and feed my newborn daughter.
As I sat on the bed in the guest bedroom that overlooked the pool deck, the stinky diaper next to me my only company, I cried tears of pain for my poor, cracked, overworked nipples and tears of exhaustion, self-pity, and jealousy that my Mother’s Day looked nothing like the idyllic scene being enjoyed by the other mothers.
When Hubby popped his head in to ask, “Do you want me to put Logan down for his nap or do you since you’re already in here?” my silent tears burst forth in a torrential dam break.
“Oh, I’ll do it,” I sobbed. “Might as well make it a complete exile from all the fun and festivities.”
Hubby’s eyes went wide with Code 3 Alert. He turned and called out to the other mothers, “Um, do you think you guys could watch the kids for a minute?” My MIL and SIL quickly jumped up tag-teaming the care of our toddler in infant.
Taking me out front Hubby asked, “What’s wrong?”
“I can’t do this!” I wailed. “It’s too hard! I want to sit! I want to sleep! I want to eat! I want to not worry my kids are going to drown in the pool! I want to relax and not worry about naps and sunscreen and diapers and feeding time. I want to be a part of my own party! I want a beeeeeeer!”
Sobbing into my husband’s white T-shirt that forever became stained with my mascara and turning it into the souvenir shirt from the Great Mother’s Day Meltdown of 2001, Hubby did his best to console me.
“I know it’s hard. But just think, in six years Logan will be in first grade and Whitney will be in kindergarten and it will get easier.”
Instead of making me feel better it made me sob harder. “I can’t wait six yeeeeeaaaars!”
But, of course, I did. And it did get easier. Long before that. Because once I came out the other side of the motherhood trial by fire that having kids 17 months apart will do to you, it became easier to find the joy in the journey. It wasn’t long before my collection of precious moments with my children dried up my tears of disillusionment.
And now, as my 16th Mother’s Day approaches it is me sitting at the table of food with a beer in my hand basking in the glow of a job well-done at a pool party in my honor.
I could get used to this.