With Mother’s Day around the corner, I feel the need to write about motherhood. Or, at least, the side that no one seems to want to discuss on a regular basis. This is the part every mother fears explaining for the shame that soon follows. The part that seems to haunt us.
There are the things that are domesticating in a mother’s life. I’m talking about the laundry, dishes, cooking, bedtime stories, teeth brushing, and many more that often get credited on Mother’s Day. Thanks for always taking care of me, mom. You wiped my ass when I needed it most. Sure, I will cook for my daughter. I will make sure she showers. I will even buy her that movie that she is dying to have. This is the forefront, the obvious, and the celebrated side. If you are a truly lucky mother, the children may even remember the times you kissed their boo boos and wiped their tears away. We are their superheroes and we will fight for them no matter what the cost to ourselves. This is the part that I am getting at though, the cost.
What no one ever seems to want to discuss is the completely terrifying moments that come from being a mother. Those moments when your child tears you down to nothing but the pile of shit they just threw on the floor. They scream at you, hate you, call you a liar, wrong, terrible… the worst mother in the entire world. The fits they throw with all the crying and nail-biting screams. There are moments when they do not listen to you. They completely ignore that you are even there. They make fun of you in front of their friends. They hit you, scratch you, and even bite you. Worst of all, they reject you…
There is a moment when all of this comes to a point. I like to call it the “lost space.” That moment when your child is lying face down on the floor, screaming and crying, and will not let you near them. The only thing that you can do is to just sit and watch them. There is not a single thing that will stop this from happening. Everything else in the world stops. Call the school. Forget your job. Turn off your phone. This is a personal day. An important family matter has come up. At this point in time you are lost. You cannot control your child. You are left in a standstill without a single solution to what is happening. This is not simply a moment of sanity loss but an intolerably heavy moment of severe depression and blinding rage rolled up in a nice blanket of paralyzing fear. You are no longer a mother but a soul from damnation that has brought forth the fires of Hell and then forgot the leash. Everything that has made you into who you are melts away and there is nothing left but an empty crumbling shell. You know that you should act like a mother but you forgot how.
Most children will not remember these moments but a mother will. Whether it was multiple times or just one big one, this is something that no one talks about. As mothers, it is our job to hide it but it’s there. It lives in a memory under our skin. It itches on occasion and calls out to us. It reminds us of the terrible possibility that we have failed. Maybe we will still fail. Maybe our child will grow up to become a terrorist or serial killer while the world looks to us and asks why. We do not have the answers. All we know is that the moment passed. We made it to the other side. It is finished and confused relief sets in.
Parenthood, in general, tears you down as a human being. I used to think that being a line cook was the most grueling and harshest job that there is but I was so incredibly wrong. Being a parent is a soul-crushing and murderous way to live. From the moment they are born, beyond the tedious domesticating responsibilities, you are filled with anxiety, frustration, exhaustion, and a looming sense of complete failure. This will never go away but those moments of “lost space” will. Eventually, when you reach the other side, you remember that this is your child. The real test of being a mother comes from the after effects of these moments when you can give your child a hug and tell them that it will be okay. What separates a mother from anyone else is her ability to look past those desires to watch the world burn down and still love her child without resentment. They come from our blood and whether we understand them or not, a world without our children is useless.
Mother’s Day is not about celebrating the endless piles of laundry that get done but remembering the sacrifices given without hesitation. When your mother looks at you with loving eyes and tells you that there was a time when she was unsure about your future, please, take her seriously. If it weren’t for her ability to see beyond moments of purely agonizing rage, you would not be here.
Remember that and go kiss your mother.