Lately I've been seeing it a lot in the faces of my Mom friends. Perhaps it's the season or the general lack of sun we've been experiencing, but it's prevalent nonetheless. That look of complete defeat. Pure parental exhaustion. The moment when you just throw in the towel and let your kid rule the roost.
Being a parent is SO DAMN HARD. I don't mind that the phrase is used so frequently because it's the ultimate truth. Your munchkin enters the world so helpless (yet somehow preprogrammed). Cue sleep deprivation, marital quarrels (see 'sleep deprivation'), possible older siblings that now need every. waking. second. of your attention, sore AF nipples and/or too many bottle parts to bear, exorbitant amounts of processed food (because who has time to cook?) And that's IF you remember to eat at all!... the list goes on. Yet we persevere somehow and soon that newborn is a baby, then a kid, then you blink, and then you cry because they're about to head off into the real world. And with each phase is another set of obstacles (and glorious triumphs). And although there are cheeky phrases like the terrible 2's and the testy 3's and the funky 4's (that's not really a thing), let's be real about something. ALL ages and ALL stages come with different challenges. I personally will never understand why anyone would want to crap in their underwear rather than on a toilet- how do you teach that to someone?! And I'm not just talking about the kids and their stages of life. I, for one, am WAY less patient now. I have stuff that needs to get done and I can't be waiting around for 16.3 minutes just so you can climb into your carseat alone to avoid a massive meltdown. 'I do! I do! I do!' Umm... no you don't kid, not unless you can do it in under 10 seconds flat! Also, NO, you cannot have the entire cantaloupe in your bed at nap time. When did you think it was ok to have food upstairs at all? Oh, Dad said it was ok to have cheerios in the playroom that one Sunday 4 weeks ago? Awesome. (So at this point I'm mad at my kid for wanting to bring food up, and because there is screaming over a damn cantaloupe, AND I'm mad at my husband since he broke a cardinal rule that will be an argument for the next decade because it was allowed once and my child has a memory like a steal vault, and I'm also mad at the dog because she's legit somehow always in my way--and all I'm trying to do is calmly come up with an alternative to sleeping with a cantaloupe*. And that's just 5 min (or less) of an average day.) Yup. Parenting is HARD AF.
Motherhood, on the other hand, is an insanely incredible thing--and I'm not talking about the art of being a Mother or possessing a child, I'm talking about the 'hood' of Moms. It may be difficult to find that Mom Squad -- you know, the one where your cursing doesn't get you evicted, you're recognized for making your own wipe solution and everyone wants some, you would never make your own wipe solution and you're glad homegirl makes it for you, you don't have to get dressed or put on makeup to hang out... THAT one. That one is pretty darn amazing. And that is also the one that when you're feeling broken, takes notice and alleviates some of your stress. And if it's a really great mama tribe, you know your kid(s) are in exceptional hands for however long it takes for you to reset.
So next time you see a mama with her head hanging low, remind her that we have ALL been there, that this too shall pass, and that there is always room in your hood for another mama. And if that doesn't work, tell her the story about the kid and the cantaloupe. At the very least she may smile picturing how silly it would be to have a kid in bed with a large piece of fruit.
*This story didn't actually happen. But it sure was fun to see how angry I became writing about the hypothetical. (We do not allow food upstairs.)