Nearly four years ago, upon hearing the news I was pregnant, a close mentor of mine took out a piece of paper and quickly drew a horizontal line from one end of the sheet to the other. "This is your new happiness spectrum: On one end is the absolute happiest you could ever be, on the other end is the absolute most unhappy you could ever be. Being a parent often has you on either end- congratulations." I didn't make much of it, as honestly I couldn't imagine being anything but happy with my new bundle of joy soon to arrive. After all they don't call a baby a bundle of misery! It can't be that bad. "My mentor probably just doesn't know how to be a fun, easygoing, insightful parent," I remember thinking. I would be different. I just knew it.
Zoom forward four years later: Here I am sitting on the ledge of my bathtub in my bathroom, door shut and taking slow, focused deep breaths. After a challenging day with the kids, and dealing with several tantrums, including my oldest resisting to put on clothes after the bath, my husband suggested I just let him put the kids to sleep and that I needed some time to cool off. I never felt so empty in all my life. Indeed it was a scary moment. The visual of the spectrum on that piece of paper 4 years ago flashed back into my head and I finally understood my mentor. It took me 4 years but now I was there, in what I felt was one of my darkest parenting moments. I got it.
I got the hardships of being a mother. I understood how much we give of ourselves, and how often it's still not enough. We look deep inside ourselves for more- just another ounce of energy, just another grain of power, just another iota of patience. We look deeper and deeper, digging past all the frustration, the fatigue, the resentment, the sleep depravation, the mental exhaustion. We keep digging, yet we feel we can't possibly find more. We feel we have pushed ourselves beyond all our limits of patience and learned how to mask our despair with yet another "Wheels on the Bus" song.
We are empty. We sit helpless, ready to break down, ready to throw in the towel. Yet again, motherhood is taking the best of us. It is in this moment of hopelessness, In this very moment, when we can do nothing but surrender our hands to the Heavens above and declare, "I have no more to give. I just have no more to give." It is in this moment that we find, somehow, somewhere, some celestial relief, a Divine reassurance of sorts. We find IT. When we feel we have nothing left- we find yet even more. We find that while we are human- we are more. We are women. We are mothers- we are mothers with soul.
And some how, in some way, our guardian mommy angels murmur in our ear a few words and we are suddenly reminded that for every unbearable instance of intolerable pain there are indefinite moments of uncontrollable joy. For every inconsolable "Mommy's a bad boy" door slammed in our face tantrum there are thousands of heart melting, tear jerking whispers of "Mommy I love you so much." For every "I don't want to!" there is the "Mommy can I marry you?" And as much as hearing them say "No" irritates us, to our very core, hearing them say those precious four letters "Mama " for the very first time melts us to our very essence. We are reminded that for all those dreadful middle of the night wake ups, when we beg for just one more hour of sleep, there are those endless moments when we don't want to close our eyes, while we watch as they so delicately fall asleep in our arms. While we find ourselves on the dark end of the motherhood spectrum now, ultimately we are reminded that the other side of the spectrum is just a few baby giggles away.
I am not a famous author, a world renowned psychologist, nor am I a child expert of any sort. I am simply a mother who is going through many of parenting's joys and pains, successes and failures, while documenting the journey as I go along. My intention is not so much to offer advice as it is to make mothers everywhere know that they are not alone- their experiences are universal and, if nothing else, that their feelings are heard and appreciated.