Sometimes motherhood feels like one interruption after another, or in some ways one giant interruption. But what if that’s the whole point?
Hear me out as I sniffle and cough my way through this thought I had in the middle of the night, when I yup, woke up to a kid kicking me in the gut, (Thanks kids for coming to our bed again to share our pillows and sneeze on us all night long as we have all been sick around here for a few days).
For real, let’s talk about how motherhood starts from the months of adjustment your body makes growing for this tiny human inside of you as they interrupt life as you knew it. I mean from the symptoms of pregnancy having you run to the bathroom more often than a child potty-training to nausea to the inability to enjoy your triple espresso or chardonnay for nearly a year as your taste buds change and you’re thinking more about keeping your baby healthy than you are about your own tastes or “gustos” as we say in Spanish.
From no longer sleeping through the night because you really do need to pee 2-3 times a night while pregnant to even switching your sleeping position to best adjust your growing belly, your child is unapologetically making you choose what’s best for them.
And once they are born, it’s not all Pinterest-perfect photos like I naively imagined the first time around. It’s a lot of diapers, a lot of crying, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of arguing over who washed the dishes or didn’t, and a lot of adjusting as you realize this interruption is here to stay for good and you have to figure this out.
Sidenote: Those of you who know our story, also know that we had a brutal and hard beginning to parenting.....mostly because we didn’t know how to still be a couple and keep a human alive while enjoying the constant interruptions that the baby brought. Listen to this episode if you want to hear about our hardest year as a couple and maybe you’ll relate to what you’re going through or went through too! Just keep in mind, that episode came out only 16 days into quarantine which we thought was a lot at the time - oh memories.
Having a child truly means that you will never pee alone again. Or maybe you will lock the door, but you’ll have kids slipping notes or whining under the said door because it just so happens that the exact moment you sit down to pee happens to be the precise moment their tummies need a crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwich because they are starving.
It means that when you take a trip, it’s inevitable that you will forget something that was crucial to their happiness, whether it’s a blankie or that random pen they found on the floor, or the special sippy cup that magically makes milk taste good. And so you will be inventing something else that’s just as special to take their mind off your absent-mindedness.
Being a mom means looking for the rare moments that you still get to sit by yourself and listen to your own thoughts, counting down the seconds or minutes until they too discover that mommy likes to get up early for a cup of coffee and come to join you so you don’t feel lonely. This now happens daily and while I sometimes despise hearing the pitter-patter of feet coming down the stairs and the whispers, “Is she up? Yes, she is. Good thing we can come keep her company”, I know someday I will miss it.
Motherhood is wanting the day to go faster because you don’t know if you can deal with one more stepped-on Lego or Paw Patrol Rescue disaster that has taken over your kitchen, yet once you put them to bed and scroll through your photos you can’t help but laugh, smile and sometimes cry at how lucky you are and how quickly they have grown.
Because even though they aren’t babies anymore, they will always be your babies and always need you, or at least I hope.
I may not welcome all the interruptions, the two years we lived on Zoom with kids knocking on my door or literally pooping on the floor while I was giving a keynote to hundreds of educators and couldn’t open the door to help my recently potty-trained two-year-old, but oftentimes in life interruptions and surprises are what make it memorable and help us learn.
If life were left up to me so focused on my plans, without the beautiful interruptions of my children, it would be much less colorful, much less joyful, and to be honest, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I think the whole point of motherhood is that these little humans come into our lives and teach us lessons that we haven’t yet learned. They teach us not to take every day so seriously. They teach us that life is going fast and work isn’t everything. They teach us to take a good look in the mirror and stop worrying about superficial things and focus on the present. They help us laugh, sometimes in spite of ourselves as we realize life isn’t as serious as we often make it out to be.
A friend with four children once told me that she sees a part of herself in each child she has, which often means the good parts and the bad parts. Our children watch us, mimic us and push us to be better versions of ourselves as we often see our strengths and weaknesses playing out in front of us. The parts of us that we never worked through or avoided we see staring back at us some days and it’s hard. But it’s also beautiful to see our children growing into their strengths and their passions and becoming their own self that goes far beyond who we are or could be.
The greatest gift we can give our children as mothers is loving ourselves and living in the “and” that life has to offer. They are watching us and how we handle life, the good and the hard. They see our reactions, they see how we look in the mirror, they see how we talk to ourselves and they often do the same.
You may be in the weeds at this point of your motherhood journey, wondering if you will ever feel like yourself again. You may be in that newborn stage of miraculous cuddles and unexplainable exhaustion to someone who has never been through it before and wonder “What did I sign up for? Is this really worth it? Am I worthy? Am I capable?” And currently, in the formula shortage in the US, I can only imagine how scary it must feel keeping your baby alive right now when you don't even have access to what you may need.
You may be in a place where you want kids and it's just not happening. Whether through adoption or IVF, the treatment isn't working, the finances aren't there, the dates aren't lining up, and maybe you are frustrated, sad, and upset. And it's probably not easy to hear moms complain about the constant interruptions when all you want is a child. I say this all because I have friends in each of these places in my life and nobody has an easy story. Nobody's story is the same, while some people may gladly welcome the giant interruption and gift of having a child or wanting more, it's just not happening and I don't know why that it is. It's really not fair.
You may be at a turning point in your career, moving up the ladder only to have found out you are pregnant and it wasn’t what you planned or hoped for, and you may be asking, “Why now? Why this interruption in my life at this moment?” And you may not have the answer today. But you can trust that as frustrating or upsetting or confusing and exhausting as it may be right now, based on what I’ve learned is that each child is an interruption or invitation to something beyond our understanding.
You may be in a stage where your kids don’t need you as much, I’ve heard that happens once they hit the double digits (maybe?) and you may wonder who you are or what’s happened with the last decade of your life and you’re rediscovering passions and hobbies that were forgotten amid the diapers, playdates, packing healthy lunches and T-ball games that you dedicated your every second to for time as you remember it.
Maybe you are a single parent and your days are long without a break and you literally are living an entirely different version of life than you imagined and you’re plain old tired. Or the times you do get a break, your ex-partner makes you feel guilty about it without any grounds to do so. Maybe you are a stay-at-home mom, wishing there was a glimpse of your former life pre-kids somewhere in your future. Or perhaps you are working, but wish you could stay home during the early years but financially it won’t work out for you and you're stuck doing double the work, a full-time job, and being a full-time mom when you get back home.
Or maybe your kids are leaving the house and you are once again stuck with your partner or yourself for the first time in 18 years not sure who you are or who you want to be anymore. Maybe your life and your identity were so interrupted that you lost yourself through it all.
Wherever you may find yourself in this motherhood journey, know that you are not alone. The best part is that there is solidarity in finding others who understand and are walking this unknown path as well. Empathy is a superpower and talking to other moms helps us realize that as forlorn and unsure of ourselves that we may be in each stage, someone else has walked this path before.
So maybe that’s why I’m propelled to write this all down this morning after our beautiful Mother’s Day celebration turned into a week of interruptions with throat infections, colds, and fevers for days. All our plans were canceled and we’ve been home, in bed, or on the couch watching movies and making the most of being sick together, just one more interruption that we didn’t ask for, but received nonetheless.
I don’t always welcome each and every interruption, yet motherhood has taught me that life is unpredictable and there’s something to learn around every corner. And often something to make you laugh along the way.
We may not know how we’re doing this, but golly, we’re figuring it out, one day or minute at a time. (On that note, I’m being summoned as it’s time for breakfast and 4-year-olds can be rather demanding.)
Cheers to moms everywhere, and to the constant interruptions.
Note to reader: I know that I did not capture every single person in this post. I know I have friends and family going through hard infertility journeys that are heartbreaking right now. I know I have single friends wanting to find their partners and have children. I know I have friends grieving the loss of a child or of their own mother. Life is messy and complicated and doesn't always make sense. I don't take the gift of motherhood lightly, I just try to share what's on my heart and hope that it encourages someone else along this confusing road of life.