The thought popped into my head not too long ago, during our family vacation:
These people all hate me right now.
It was the first morning of our trip, and as we drove to the beach, my whole family expressed their dissatisfaction with my performance.
- My two-year-old screamed about the fact that I couldn’t take her shoes on and off while she was strapped into her car seat…behind me…while I was doing 70.
- My four-year-old decided I was a mean old witch for not letting her eat one of the chocolate cupcakes the hotel staff had laid out as a “breakfast” option that morning.
- And my husband couldn’t believe I could have possibly overlooked packing his hat amid the thousands of other items I had remembered to pack.
Bottom line? I was on everyone’s sh*t list.
No one seemed to care that I’d spent weeks planning our trip, finding the right hotel, buying the kids new swimsuits, stocking up on bottled water and sunscreen and snacks, and just generally taking care of all the other stuff I know YOU know goes into prepping and executing a family vacation.
While everyone took turns telling me how much I sucked (at least that’s how it felt), the tears started streaming down my face. I felt so unappreciated, so overlooked. I was a tool for my family’s needs and enjoyment, and when I wasn’t performing up to their standards, they didn’t hesitate to file a complaint, vociferously.
I didn’t necessarily need to be thanked that morning; it was my “vacation,” too. But I didn’t want to be trampled on. Then again, that’s kind of how motherhood is, isn’t it?
Day-to-day motherhood is such an accumulation of drudgery and utterly thankless tasks.
Sure, sometimes it’s sweet goodnight snuggles and butterfly kisses. But it’s soooo much more tantrum-taming, barf-cleaning, silent stink-eye scolding, and chauffeuring than picturesque parenting.
The hard part is that we’re not supposed to say that.
We’re not supposed to say our family is driving us crazy and we’re sick and tired of being punching bags. We’re supposed to “enjoy them while they’re young” and “savor every moment.”
But when you’re in the thick of it and you haven’t had a break from parenting (never mind a true vacation!) in years, it’s all too easy to lose your perspective.
So Moms, I’ll say it to you: I know you’re doing the very best you can. I know you fall into bed at the end of each long day wondering if you were good enough, nurturing enough, patient enough. And guess what? You were.
I’m sorry no one told you that today…this week…this month. I’m sorry no one told you that your kids were polite, clever, and tidy because of YOU. I’m sorry no one thanked you for the clean underwear stacked neatly in their dresser or the favorite sippy cups you washed, reassembled, refilled, and rewashed. I’m sorry your own family sometimes makes you feel like your best just isn’t good enough.
But THIS is why we need perspective. THIS is why we need to remember those sweeter moments and hold them safe in our memories, so we don’t actually lose sight of the reason we do all we do when the sh*t is hitting the fan.
So the next time you’re just “not good enough,” find a quiet bathroom to hide in with the sweetest picture of your baby’s angelic face and know your sigh is part of the collective tapestry of true motherhood.