Loading up my children in the van to go anywhere makes me a lunatic with a personality disorder. I can go from a calm, loving mother to a scary monster in .2 seconds. There has got to be an easier way to get somewhere…”
My friend and colleague posted this yesterday, and I immediately jumped in my Tardis and headed back to the early ’90s when I also struggled with that same personality disorder. (Pardon the shameful marketing to Dr. Who enthusiasts.) Of course, as most young mothers do, I felt I did everything wrong and everyone else had it more together than I did, and I tried desperately at least to appear like I had it together for those few hours a day when my life was out there for public consumption: the grocery store trips, church, school drop offs and picks ups.
Don’t even get me started on people dropping by and surprising me after noon on a Saturday when I was still in my PJs rocking the messy bun.
The paradox of motherhood leaves us exhausted, completely depleted emotionally some days, and inexplicably fulfilled in the same moment. No wonder we feel we have some sort of emotional issues. Please understand that I’m not mocking mental illness here. I truly thought in those moments that I did have these mental and emotional challenges. I didn’t, but it felt very real at the time.
My response to this friend could only come in hindsight many years later:
“One day, you’re going to tell them to get in the car, and they’re just going to do it, and you’ll find yourself walking around the house trying to get them out the door, and they’ll be sitting in the car wondering what’s taking you so long. True story. You’ll be a nice woman again one day, I promise.”
In my Tardis, I visited a restaurant in Great Bridge, a little community in Chesapeake, VA where we lived many years ago. One day, I had our precious Cassie at that restaurant. Nothing I did would satisfy her. I had ordered my food and tried to eat it as fast as I could and get out of there to leave all the other patrons in peace. I had myself worked up and stressed out over the noise she was making and how we were disturbing the other guests.
A kind woman walked past us on her way out and leaned over to encourage me:
“One day, you’ll tell her to get ready to leave, and she’ll just do it. She won’t need you to put her coat on or tie her shoes. She’ll wipe her own nose, and go get in the car by herself, and life will suddenly be easier. You’ll get there faster than you think.”
What an understatement! This stranger breathed life into my soul.
My Cassie is now nearly twenty-five with two of her own little ones. I watch her worry about disturbing other people, and I chuckle a little at the cycle.
This too shall pass, my dear, and one day–believe it or not–you’ll welcome the squeals of your grandchildren and wish they’d disturb you more often.
So give yourself a break. You’ll be okay.
…and that’s the view from My Front Porch.