It is the most unappreciated job in the world – a mother’s work.
No, wait. Not even a mother’s work. Beyond that. A mother’s being is the most unappreciated position in the world.
I just had a little hissy fit with my husband in response to my son’s whining. It’s a long story. I know he’s a wonderful husband. I have lovely kids. Life is good. But there is always this underlying question of whether what I do is seen, who I have been and am being is seen.
Motherhood isn’t just about the work that is done. It’s not just about packing lunch for the kids to take to school or driving them to school and various activities. It’s not just about coordinating play dates and getting to know other mothers so I can build a community for my children to grow up in where people will look out for them and I can know whose kids are being nice to my kids and whose are not being so nice. It’s not only about the dealing with whinings and tantrums and limit setting. It’s way beyond the nighly diaper changes or breastfeeding rounds, or being the cuddle bunny for night time fears. It’s more than just being the counselor to their problems, the teachers to their learning, the referees to the sibling rivalries. It also includes the picking up after the kids’ trails of crumbs, toys, laundry, etc, even though I know everything will get messed up within minutes of cleanliness. It’s the constant hygiene monitoring and making sure their nails are clipped, hair brushed and trimmed, bodies are washed, etc. I don’t cook much at home at all because that is the one thing I can get away with but at times I do cook on rare occasions and when I do, I have to ensure that they eat nutritious meals that are delicious to them as well. I am thankful to my husband for being helpful as the chef of the kitchen and in fact, being in charge of it. But yes, it’s all that work.
But it’s more than all that work that makes up motherhood. It’s the state of being On-Call, 24/7. It’s the giving up your dreams, your passions, your identity. It’s the suppressing of your own emotions and frustrations to avoid burdening the kids with them. Did I mention giving up your dreams, your passions, your identity?
No matter how much you negotiate, no matter how your partner has given way, no matter how much you are creative and pursue these dreams, passion and identity in every opportunity where there can be compromises, at the end of the day, they are still compromises.
Ladies, you can NOT have it all. NO mothers can have it all. In fact, you will be blessed to have any at all. THAT is M.o.t.h.e.r.h.o.o.d. What had frustrated me when I had an argument with my husband just now wasn’t that who did what, because I know he does help out a lot. But the lack of understanding, or at least his momentary forgetfulness at times when it really matters, that Motherhood means Non-Self-Hood for me, as I believe it is for many other mothers out there.
I am sure there are mothers out there that gets to do things they enjoy, play tennis, go to spa, party with girlfriends, etc, and still have kids in starched well-ironed clothes and sparkling hair, and perfect scores at sports and at school. I am NOT one of them. I don’t know how they do it. But I know the things they do enjoy, I do not enjoy. I don’t care much for sports. I like taking walks to keep healthy. I enjoy dancing. But dancing is thrown out the window when I had kids. My body isn’t the same because of the pregnancy hormones had moved my joints in different ways. I can train myself to get back to it, but dancing is a performance art. And without that performance piece, it is never the same. And performance requires a lot of rehearsal time, a lot of coordination time – time that I do not have with kids in the picture.
I am very sad I cannot dance. I danced cultural dances for 18 years.
I can still dance at clubs. But as a married woman, doing so without my husband is inappropriate, so I cannot dance. Many married women wouldn’t be going to dance at clubs, and unfortunately, at my age and period in my life, I only know married women.
I enjoy book clubs that other mothers go to. But I have no time to read books. I am studying online to rebuild my career. I have no time for leisure reading. I have gone to enough bookclubs without reading books that at some point, I decided, I should be reading books if I want to go to book clubs.
I love to write. It is my lifeline. But I have not been able to sit down and dedicate blocks of time to write creatively, because I need complete peace and quiet with no distraction, a complete seclusion to allow myself to get into creative flow, and immerse myself in writing. Being a 24/7 On-Call Mom completely negates that possibility. My lifeline has been taken away. Thank goodness for this blog. This is not creative writing, but still thank goodness …..
And then there is the career. But it’s closely tied to my love of writing, and at this point in my life, to my home country as well, so…
I love my home country. I miss it so much. I miss my childhood friends there. I miss my community. I miss family. I want to go back and live there, and contribute to the rebuilding of my birth country in this crucial time when it just got out of 60 years of dictatorship. I have the skills, and expertise in a niche that only few others can assist with. I know I can do so much there and really grow a successful career there. But I cannot return, because I cannot, as a Mother, leave my children behind, nor as a wife, ask my husband to abandon his career. That is what hurts a lot right now. My birth country is my identity. My birth country is my bloodline. My birth country is my family too. Since I was 18, I have always had a plan to move back. But being a mother means my children comes first, even before the ancestors that gave birth to me, the land I was born from, the calling that is burning with passion inside of me. Even though every fiber of my being is asking for me to return, I have to give that up for my children. That is what my motherhood is.
All these things that go unnoticed. All these things I do day in day out. All these things I have to hold. All the things I have to let go. All these things that has no outcome but I have to keep doing because the absence has consequences. It’s not work that’s hard. It’s the invisible things that make the space that is hard. It’s the space I have to hold. The space that has no room for my own Self.
I do not think any man, or any husband will ever get that. They have always had room for their Selves in any space. They have never really had to share that space in the way mothers do. And they have always the opportunity to have space they call their own outside of family and kids. It’s lucky if a mother can do that. I’m trying to find that, but whenever I do, I get seen as someone who isn’t being a mother. The ony space I can occupy is with kids. It’s all right if I do my own stuff, but I cannot do it if it starts to get ouside of my space with my kids. There is that implication. And there is no word for the sadness around that invisible bind.
word up. word out. lay low…my invisible invincible Mothas….