Motherhood is messy.
Pregnancy is messy. There’s all the vomiting, constant sweating, hormones raging, bodily fluids amplified. Childbirth is extremely messy, there’s all the gushing and wooshing, lots of stuff (besides the baby) comes out, weeks of postpartum bleeding and bowel movement pain no ones really prepares you for. Breastfeeding can be messy too ( I mean I loved leaking through bra’s and shirts in public, didn’t you?). Newborns are sleeping, shitting, peeing, eating machines; you will never forget your first public blow out that makes you go running from the store/restaurant covered in a greenish liquid stench strong enough to clear a football stadium. Infants are inquisitive and messy little buggers; food, toys and anything within reach ending up on the floors, walls, and tiny creases you never knew existed. Toddlers are basically moving balls of dirt that make a lot of noise, little teething monsters who refuse naps and baths and have epic meltdowns over the wrong kind of juice. Don’t even get me started on perpetual mess that is laundry, dishes and house cleaning.
But Motherhood is also another kind of mess. One we all hush hush about, research about in our incognito browser windows, and secretly wait for another mom to talk about first so you feel you aren’t the only one. Motherhood is emotionally messy. For some, its a daily mess. For others its occasional. But it happens to ALL of us. Some women suffer from postpartum depression and know it in the moment. Some look back months later and realize it. Others just have bad days or hours. The degree of mess varies, but its there, lurking.
Some just burst into tears, overwhelmed with happiness/sadness/exhaustion/watching the news/watching commercials. Some lose their shit over a bath towel put away in the wrong order in the linen closet, or in my case waking up to the smell of onions being cooked in the kitchen by a guest. Others walk out the door to run to the store and contemplate never coming back. Some just go for a drive to scream in the car. There are irrational fears that take over dreams and recurring nightmares about something horrible happening. There are real nightmares when something tragic happens to someone you know and love. A giant list of “what ifs” start to collect and become almost unbearable. I know I’ve spent more than one night watching my son sleep for 9-10 hours, to make sure he didn’t stop breathing, all the while my logical brain fighting with my emotional brain, fear and uncertainty keeping me awake. There’s the near emotional break when your baby won’t stop crying or won’t go to sleep or is teething and in pain and there’s nothing you can do to take it away. Then there are surprise tears of joy when you little one says “mama” or gives you a real hug with an open mouth kiss. There are laugh out loud moments when they give you their first “WTF” look or parrot a explicit word (usually while in a public place). I’ve had moments when I just look at my baby boy and my heart is so full of love it feels like its going to explode.
I don’t know about you, but I never checked any boxes on the questionnaire during my well baby checks ups about my emotional state, not because I was trying to hide something, but because I figured all moms felt tired and weepy sometimes. I never thought about hurting myself or my baby, so I didn’t think it was important to talk about my constant state of fluctuating emotions. I just figure I needed to put on my big girl pants and toughen up! I’m the strongest person I know, so I figure I could just handle it all by myself. But really, I was wrong. I should have talked more about my feelings. I just didn’t want to burden my best friend who I was already leaning on a lot (seriously, who wants to get calls from a weepy friend all the time!). I’m a single mom, so I’ve never had a partner to talk to (yet, from what I’ve heard, even that is sometimes not helpful). I didn’t burden my family, because, well that’s a whole other Oprah. And looking back at those first 10 months, I realize I should have just paid someone to listen to me (honestly, I probably still should) because Motherhood is emotionally messy. Maybe I’ll start a new MeetUp Group: Motherhood Whine & Cheese: a night to have a drink and 5 minutes to get stuff off our chests, without judgement or guilt, so we know we’re not alone (copyright!).
Motherhood gives us indescribable strength and at the same time, strips us down to our most vulnerable. It is an emotional roller coaster, that never ends. Some days its sunshine and rainbows and other days its smiling while standing in a giant pile of shit.
But its a mess I wouldn’t trade for the world.