Sometimes it’s like this: you wake in the middle of the night to find your nursling nestled asleep in the crook of your arm, warm downy hair pressed against your skin and her little mouth working in sweet little puckers as she dreams of her fabulous num nums. You look over to see your husband dreaming silently, a smile on his lips. Your dog is asleep at the foot of the bed, paw twitching in her own doggy dream world and the kitty purrs happily at your feet. The air is perfect; just cold enough to warrant the light blankets covering you and the smell of rain adding a crispness and promise of fall. On these nights you know that you could do this forever. You know that this moment was made for you to drink in, embrace and cherish. You know that if this is truly what life was, you could sit in this space for the rest of your life and never want for anything.
Sometimes it’s like this: you wake in the middle of the night as you kick the sweat soaked covers off your body and elbow your husband to get him to stop snoring, hoping that as he turns over he’ll somehow get the dog to stop snoring as well. The cat is trying to sleep on your face. The sweet nursling is awake again and is not happy and you know you must resign yourself to no sleep or you will be bitter and unforgiving in the morning. During the day, you want to complete a task but you know there will be countless interruptions and if your husband is home he will likely be napping during one of those times and you will be required to suddenly wake him from his slumber by demanding help. You will feel guilty for asking. You will feel guilty for hating that he is napping. You will feel guilty for wanting a whole day to do as you please. You will feel guilty for not making a perfect meal every night and presenting it to your family on matching plates with perfectly ironed napkins ready to swipe at their perfectly clean faces. You will resent that you have to call a friend in joy when you are out of the house all alone and you will resent that you have to be back at a certain hour, feeling like a child again who must abide by a parents rules. You wonder when your husband will learn to love your body as is and not say things like, “You’re not getting old, honey. You’re just out of shape; what you need to do is…” You realize that he will never learn. He’s a man and this kind of thing is not within his reach. He can tell you what every tool in the garage is called, how it works, what to do with it and what it sounds like when it goes bad; but this he cannot grasp. You know that if life is like this you could easily give it all up and run off to join the circus. Any circus, just as long as they allow you to sleep once in a while and spend a quiet day with a book. For a fleeting moment you even irrationally consider leaving your husband. As though that would somehow make your life easier, but in reality you know it’s just the anger and the resentment and the frustration of having very young children and a strong will of your own. You will feel so guilty for wanting to be away, knowing you will be in love with him again tomorrow. You will feel like a failure and no amount of being told you are not will erase the panic in your heart that you are just doing it all wrong.
Sometimes it’s like this: you realize that you have it good. You also realize that just because others have it worse, it does not diminish your own issues and insecurities. You accept that you are human and fallible and that you don’t have your shit together and likely never will. You hang onto those moments of perfectness and you allow yourself to be pissed off or happy or scared or crazy or silly or awake or selfish or Martha Stewart or whoever you need to be. You cling to the smell of your daughters damp head in the middle of the night and cry a little at how perfect she is and pray that you just don’t screw her up.
Sometimes it’s like this: you write it all down and wonder if you should just delete the whole thing. You think about your children reading this when they are becoming mothers and you realize that they will either be better at this than you or they will feel the same conflicting emotions and burry themselves in guilt and shame. You hope they will read this and think, “hell, if that woman could get through this, then so can I.” You hope they will never have to feel this way, but if they do you hope they will not feel alone. You hope even, for a moment, that they will call you up and pour out their emotion so that you can say, “I know, sweetheart. Hang in there baby, it’ll get better, I promise.”