One of my mom’s friends asked me, while Trex was still an infant, “Don’t you just love being a mother?” Her voice oozed with Hallmark sentiments and an adoration I save for cotton candy and naps.
And I couldn’t answer. If I said yes, I’d be lying. If I said no, I’d be a bad person. I sputtered for a while before finally offering, “It’s fine, just challenging.”
It’s not that I hate being a mother. I don’t even dislike being a mother. But love it? Live for it? Feel fulfilled by it? That’s not really my experience. For some people, it defines them. They find a deep joy and satisfaction in being a parent above all other possible titles, and revel in the challenges and accomplishments that come with raising a kid.
Me? It’s the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I absolutely love Trex and I’m grateful that he spends most of his time with me. I’m here for everything he does and I make every decision for him. When he says a word for the first time, or makes a new sentence, I hear it. I see him accomplish milestones and learn new things and laugh at silly stuff. All day, every day, he and I hang out and have fun.
But during the day, that’s all I do. Tasks that used to take an hour or so can now take all day, if I get them done at all. Anything that I want to buy or we need to get for the house has to wait until he’s rested enough to go out. Eating in restaurants is a chore. We don’t see movies anymore. I don’t go to parties or stay out late. I can’t write, edit, read, clean, or even sit down uninterrupted. Most of my meals, I eat standing at the counter by his high chair, trying to wolf down my food before he thinks to start throwing his. I prepare three meals a day and try to fit in two snacks, the majority of which go rejected by the toddler. We have songs for brushing our teeth and even a dance for using the potty. The same movies, shows, and music videos are watched repeatedly, day in and day out. During the average day, I get slapped, hit, pinched, scratched, bit, licked, and screamed at. Any outing has the potential to end with me carting a screaming two year old out of a store.
So love it? No. If that means you think less of me, or I don’t somehow measure up to other moms, so be it. I love Trex and I’ll never regret our decision to have him, but I can’t sit here and say I love being a mother. It’s hard as hell, but I never expected it to be easy.
The hardest part is the struggle to keep my own identity, and just have “mother” be a part of that. There is so much I have to offer the world, and I owe it to myself to try. To me, being defined as a mom above and beyond all else drives me crazy. With everything I do, all the heart and soul I pour into what I love, just being “Trex’s Mom” devalues me, and everything I work on. Blatantly it ignores my successful business, my shows, my writing, and everything else I do. I do not exist solely as a support system for Trex. It’s my responsibility, but it’s not who I am.
It’s why I fight so hard to do my own thing. It’s why I trade sleep and a clean house for time to write, to work out, and to put out shows. Those things are me, separate from Mother, and what I chose to do with that time I have away from Trex. They’re the key to keep myself happy and feeling like I’m being productive and achieving goals, no matter how arbitrary. And when I feel like I’m made progress and I’m happy, I have an easier time dealing with all the hard parts of fulfilling my mother role. Trex is happier and better cared for because I was productive.
Parenting is hard. I’m not telling any lies when I say it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The best part of every day is waking up to a smiling little boy. The best part of every day is getting hugs and kisses and playing on the floor. The best part of every day is when the little monster goes to bed, and we have a few hours to breathe, work or play before we pass out ourselves. It’s not a happy, Hallmark, feel-good sort of sentiment, but it’s the truth.
I tweeted, on Mother’s Day, that there’s irony in the fact that the best present you can give a mother on her day is to take her kids for a little while, giving her time to pretend like she’s not a mom.
Instead, we tried to go out to dinner. I spent 45 of the 60 minutes we were at the restaurant outside, chasing a kid up and down the sidewalk so he wouldn’t scream inside. Because I’m a mom. It’s hard, but it’s what I do.
And then I worked until 1AM on a project. Because I’m Kristin. And that’s what I do.