Once all of my journals and paper things are destroyed in the inevitable world war (over penis size) that will cause us to need to re-author history, I bet that one notebook will miraculously survive. Scholars and anthropologists alike will scour its pages for clues about humanity before the apocalypse, and they will get grocery lists, lists of work I have to get done, and rants about my kids' behavior.
My kids are the best people I know, but they show me their worst. Part of being a mom is being the force of unconditional love and care in the worst moments. They get my worst, as well. They get a few hours with me every night when I am exhausted from a tough, emotional job and a long-ass commute. We all project our best online, and I am not the best mom sometimes. I try to be honest about my motherhood experience, and to share more joy than complaint. I have some "private" mom groups that I might vent to, and a few unlucky souls that I might text in an exasperated moment when I am crying in the bathroom about why they don't listen to me unless I yell and threaten to hit them. I am non-violent in persona and it's literally what I do at work, yet I find myself so enraged by the actions of the little people I created. I cannot adequately explain the rage, but it is subconscious, guttural, and I believe that children are cute as adaptive survival technique.
Online, in public forums, I try to focus on their cognitive and athletic abilities, cute moments and "kids say the darnedest things" clout, but this bolsters the narrative that I am a good mom. Most days, I am not. Most days, I do not love or even like being a mom. Most days, I am grumpy, I yell, I struggle to be creative about activities to engage them. Most weekend days, I struggle to leave the house, or shower, because I am constantly cleaning, re-cleaning, cooking, re-cleaning, doing dishes, re-cleaning, sweeping, mopping, doing laundry and attempting to keep them engaged in activities and not kill each other. It is a straight-up battle for survival from 7am when Sali wakes me up, until 9:30 or 10, when after 2 hours of trying to settle them down, they both actually fall asleep. Most days, I suffer from massive anxiety about every noise they make, every ball they bounce, every stomp and scream. I just don't know how to let it go, even though I've spent years trying.
I am making this public, because it's time to admit that I need help. I HAVE a lot of help in terms of my husband, who has cared for them magically for years at home when they were young, takes Nas to school and picks him up, cooks almost every night and participates in the bi-monthly massive clean-a-thon that is Sunday afternoon. I am not doing this alone, although there are days when motherhood is incredibly isolating and lonely. But I need professional help, I need self-care help, I need babysitting help, I need yoga, I need nam myoho renge kyo. I do not have family here (aside from my husband's brother and sister-in-law, who are also of great help!) and I do not have friends in Jersey. I am an introvert with an extremely extroverted job, so part of this is by design - I just don't have more to give when I get home from work, but I have to figure out how to have time, energy and patience for my own kids. I feel like I've dug deeper than all of the oceans to try to find this patience, and I am still short.
I cannot end this rant without perspective, and admitting that I am extremely privileged to discuss my shortcomings as a mother, in a way that women of color in this country cannot, because white supremacy already narrates them as bad mothers. The best moms I know are black and Latino, some of them single moms, working multiple jobs, and holding that shit down a thousand times better than I ever could. They are the real MVPs and I am just whining. I am also aware that so many women and men desire to have children and cannot, and how dare I complain about something that so many people would die for? I know, and I am empathetic toward their feelings, which is why I try to share some of the realness of parenthood, because the grass is always greener and we always want the life that is not our own. I am grateful, I am blessed, but I still need support, and love, and time to be alone, and an uninterrupted shower, and a day without being headbutted in my nose and having it sting so badly my eyes water.