A Job Description
How do you do it? How do you, as a mother, get up every morning and do it some more? Whether you have one kid or 4, a partner or not, a job or volunteer work, it’s just an endless exhausting marathon this motherhood thing. I have the luxury of money, a husband and a great family to help me and I still wonder sometimes when I go to bed how I’m going to get up the next morning. I dream about days and days of nothing to do. I fantasize and romanticize my single days where I owed nothing to anyone (ha ha) and could do what I wanted whenever I wanted to.
Then I think about single moms, single moms living below the poverty line, scraping rent together every month while trying to hold on to their dignity while the world calls them welfare cheats and lazy. Every day they still have to get up, get dressed, put on a good show for the kids and head off to school drop off and work. It is so hard. Motherhood is this mostly thankless job where no one says thank you until about 30 years has gone by and every day you question whether you’re doing it right or at least ok enough that your kids will only need a little bit of therapy but will definitely remain in your life as you age. Their love is some comfort but once they start maturing emotionally you spend every minute worrying if they are going to be ok, if they are eating right, making enough friends, keeping up their self esteem, feeling successful in school or life. It was much easier when their needs were a fresh diaper, food and a few playtimes a day.
And they are never truly safe. You can never stop worrying. When I was pregnant with my triplets I kept saying things like “once they are viable outside of the womb” or “once they get to 32 weeks” or “once they are born then I can relax.” It’s not true. There’s so much around you that you took for granted as a grown up with no kids. Shit this world is deadly. Add in the era of seemingly imminent doom we have somehow found ourselves in right now and holy crap how can I keep my kids ok? This constant emotional worry is exhausting. And the minute you think you have a kid figured out they change.
So there moms are, one foot in front of the other, day after day. Tomorrow I’ll rest. Tomorrow I’ll get a moment. Tomorrow maybe I’ll feel ok. And we wake up again and face the day. Money, bills, teachers, friends, fellow parents, racist attackers, terrorists, healthcare coverage, is it hot enough for the pool party, what can I do with the kids that is fun enough that they wont whine about not getting their electronics the whole time, graffiti sprayed on the side of temples, what the hell am I going to make for dinner for the 397th time.
And half the time we don’t even know how worried we are. We don’t even register the anxiety because it’s everpresent. The kid we always worry about has good days but you’re always waiting for the next shoe to drop. The kid who is always happy but had that traumatic event last year could be having flashbacks, but how would you know? The teacher you don’t click with could be doing nothing but could be creating a lifetime of insecurities in your child with one critical sentence. Does the kid need a counselor yet? How about now?
The world keeps watching and judging though. Never a break from the news telling you all the new ways you are screwing up as a mom, all the new toys that are killing people, how the tv time you’re giving them will make them into terrible people, how the food you’re feeding them will have them riddled with cancer by 20. Never a break from the news telling you how the world is coming to an end, how close to war we are, how the president screwed up with another powerful ally turned foe. And guess who gets to explain to the kids about what it all means? Guess who has to explain away the fear and anxiety they feel as they hear other kids in class carelessly repeating the stuff they heard their parents say at home?
And so the hits keep coming. Every second. We can not relax. We can not breathe easy. We joke about wine and too much electronic time to keep us sane. We binge on pints of ice cream and cry as we eat a whole batch of cookies hiding in our room at night. But in the morning we get up and we do it. We do our job. We feed, clothe, give therapy, coach, teach political science, run group therapy at the breakfast table, referee fights, protect, go to battle for, investigate, spend, save, bargain, hug, cry with, medicate, soothe, fight with, punish, reward, and crisis manage the whole day through. That’s how we do it. That’s how it gets done. Every. Damned. Day.