I bought four pillows the other day. Not throw pillows or decorative little squares. They were full fledged, I-need-this-to-sleep-comfortably bed pillows. And they were all for me.
The clerk in the bedding section of the department store must have thought I was a little odd. I mean, I’m sure it’s normal for people to hit the pillows or squish the pilllows but I was pressing them against my side; squeezing them between my knees; and hugging them to my very pregnant body all in hopes of determining which one would help me sleep.
You see, I’m getting big.
I can no longer sleep on my stomach. I haven’t been able to lay on my left side since I pee’d on that stick--sleeping on my left side makes me throw up. As a result, my right hip is starting to get a little sore–especially considering I can’t lay flat. I have to keep my upper body raised in order for gravity to help my Nexium-Zantac-Tums cocktail keep the contents of my stomach–well–in my stomach.
Making matters even more challenging, I have a horrible case of restless leg syndrome. I honestly didn’t even know RLS was a thing until two pregnancies ago. With Mary Kate and Logan I had minor boughts of the condition but unfortunately, this pregnancy has me playing world class soccer in my bed. It takes hours to fall asleep. And, once I do…I have to get up and go to the bathoom.
I’d love to report the pillows have helped, but I’m not sure they have. As a result I am a walking zombie.
But…I’m not complaining.
Yes I am.
And that’s okay.
This morning I watched Savannah Guthrie bid the world of network morning television a maternity leave adieu. Apparently her little bun in the oven is about baked. In celebration of her momentous occasion the Today Show had a gaggle of celebrities give her some last minute parenting advice in a clever little montage. You can read it here.
The messages were sweet. Some of them were even funny. Many of them shared one underlying theme.
“Enjoy it. Love every second of it. Parenting is an honor. It’s a privelege. It’s the best job you’ll ever have!”
I don’t know if it was my sleep-deprived, grumpy, ill-feeling-pregnant-self but all I could think of was, “What a bunch of bull sh*t.”
The more I thought about the well-intentioned, sugary advice to “lap up every second” the madder I got. You see, after being a parent for the past 20 years I’ve realized that some of the duties us mothers are called to–well–to be frank–kind of suck.
For instance, last Friday night Sean and I lugged all five of our kids to the shores of Lake Michigan for an evening picnic at the water’s edge. Great plan in theory but damn if every single kid isn’t their own little variable. Four of our five were agreeable but one would have nothing of it. Suddenly, after a week of playing at the beach without incident, she didn’t like sand, water, sunscreen and the site of seagulls made her scream. In addition, she protested that her bathing suit was ill-fitting, her sandals were too tight and she had a tummy ache.
Therefore she screamed…for a solid thirty minutes.
Being the savvy parents that Sean and I are we weren’t about to let a crabby two year old thwart our plans. We sat her in a chair, set up camp, and ignored her display. It was us against her and we were determined to prevail. After all, the sunset was brilliant, the other four kids were playing happily, and we figured we could outlast the tantrum. It was a battle of wills and come hell or high water we were going to win.
You see, turns out two year olds have weapons up there sleeves–and in their pants–that can beat down even the most resolute parents.
Remember that tummy ache? The one I ignored. Turns out there was some truth behind her complaints.
Drew was the first to recognize there was a problem.
Drew: Mom…what’s with the flies all over her?
Me: Um…I don’t know. Maybe they are mistaking her tantrum as a mating call.
Drew: Um. No. I think there’s a problem.
Ryan: Oh my God. Look at her leg.
Me: What?…running towards her…”Shit!”
There in lies the problem. Shit. Shit everywhere. Turns out my recently potty-trained no-diaper-wearing little girl decided to end this trip to the beach the only way she could. She used the one weapon in her arsenal we couldn’t ignore.
And she won.
And it sucked.
This pregnancy is getting difficult. At this point, I thankfully have no reason what-so-ever to be worried about the dangerous complications that I’ve experienced before. So far, my blood pressure is stable and my body seems to be cooperating with it’s new inhabitant. I’m grateful for that. I really am.
But, here’s the thing,
Pregnancy is tough. It alters a woman’s life in a way that forces her to sacrifice so much. Discomforts that range from the minor to the major often plague women during the forty week gestational period. Yet, and I can only speak for myself, I always feel guilty complaining. I feel like I should be thankful for this opportunity because so many women would give their left arm to be in my position. My pregnancy is a miracle. This little life I’m carrying is a blessing from God.
And just like those feelings, sometimes when I’m having a challenging parenting moment I catch myself thinking about how my life would be easier if I wasn’t a parent at all.
Can you believe I just admitted that? Me. The woman who went to the extreme of extremes to have this brood of children.
But I admit it. There are moments where I wish I could beam myself to a parallel universe in which my current “challenge” (aka. “kid”) didn’t exist. For instance, in the moment that I was wrapping my sh*t covered two year old in a beach towel and carrying her through the sand while she was kicking and screaming because suddenly she didn’t want to leave the beach–I wanted to be somewhere else. In fact, I wanted to be someone else. Anyone but this child’s mother.
Do I feel bad about that? Maybe. Kind of. Not really.
Dare I say, “It’s normal”?
Look…I know it’s not on trend to complain. Gratitude: Enjoying the small things: Basking in the minutia of parenting; well, it’s all supposed to be the bomb.
Sometimes it is.
Some parenting moments suck. Kids puke. They destroy things. They can make bad decisions that put parents in undesireable positions. They can break hearts with their tongues and do things that make you feel like you’ve have failed. And, damn if they don’t have a special knack for embarrassing you.
When those parenting moments happen it’s okay not to love every single second of it.
We need to quit telling each other to cherish every moment. As well intentioned as the sentiment is–it can lead to feelings of inadequacy and guilt. And those are feelings that mothers don’t need any more of. I’m pretty sure most of us walk around every day worrying that we aren’t doing a good enough job and feeling guilty about it.
Considering my Y-list celebrity status I’m not at all surprised the producers from the Today Show didn’t invite me to participate in the advice laden montage for Savannah. But, if they had, this is what I would’ve said,
“On most days you’re going to love being a mother. But there will be days where you don’t; and that’s okay. They pass. But for the love of God don’t feel bad for not loving every single second of motherhood. Oh…and don’t ignore complaints about stomach aches. They often result in sh*t.”
We were visiting my parent’s last week. They live on the shores of southern Lake Michigan. Here are a few snap shots of the parenting moments I actually did love.
On the lawn of my parent’s yacht club.
Lawn bowling. She’s kind of dangerous.
Burning off some steam.