Sometimes being a mom is hard work. And I guess being a single mom is harder. That’s what they say anyway. I got my wisdom tooth out nearly a week ago and it’s been pretty unbearable. And Harper has had a pretty killer tummy bug that combined with a chest cough yesterday – and vomiting – which was enough to land us in the emergency room. Poor baby. When that kind of stuff happens – mouth throbbing, baby puking on you and starting the day covered in shit – there are certainly parts of me that want to hand my whole life over to someone else for them to take care of.
“Here! You take the baby to the hospital! You clean up the shit! You wash the puke off of her and yourself! I’m going to sleep.”
That would be so nice. But, at the same time, I would not have wanted anyone else at that hospital with her. I couldn’t have lived with myself if I had actually done that. And that’s the really sneaky difficult bit – as much as I want someone else to do it all, I wonder if what I really want is the space to vent, to complain, to have someone acknowledge that it’s hard work and I’m doing a great job, and that’s it -- then I will carry on with it. Sometimes I think that is all I am really searching for. I wonder if that is ridiculous, or if maybe that is valid and sometimes it is all that we need? Someone to look us in the eye and say “What you’re going through right now is so hard and you are doing so well in spite of that. It will be over soon, and then you can rest, but in the meantime, well done for being such a stellar mom.”
The trap, really, is trying to do it all perfectly. Trying to coast through life - motherhood - with a brave face despite all the hardship. The biggest trap of all is the fact that trying to do it that way only makes the cracks worse. It’s impossible to make everything look effortless, to pretend that there are no bad days, and the more I try to do that, the more I try to hide it from the world, from myself, the harder it is to keep it together, and then I snap. It’s like the pressure just gets to be too much and the pot boils over.
So probably the answer is in letting the cracks show. I often think, in old buildings and trees, in the ancient African mountains around us, that it is the cracks that show the ability to stand the test of time, and I suppose we humans are no different.