Before I had Landon, before I ever met Chris and dimly even thought about getting pregnant myself, I would see mothers with their children out and about in shopping malls, grocery stores, parking lots, locker rooms, you name it, and I would catch their conversations and interactions and think to myself, 'god, that mother can't even control her own kid,' or I've thought, 'that woman is acting like she is below the age of her child,' and, 'I will never react that way and say those things to my child when I am a mother'. Truly, I said and promised myself these things.
When yesterday, I found myself crossing the street with Landon when he decided to let go of my hand, throw himself on the concrete, and kick and scream like I've never seen him before. I put my hand up to the driver waiting for us to cross to motion 'STOP' and 'thank you' and pled with him to get up and walk. My hands were full with his water, lunch box, and new Razor scooter I was now carrying because he decided he didn't want to scoot to the park anymore, he wanted to walk. After a few failed attempts to reason with or try to excite my toddler to cross the street, I scooped him up in one arm, scooter, water, and lunch in the other. Only he is wearing his new Timberland boots, and only he just learned how to kick. Hard. He lashes out at me so hard my entire right leg and arm give way and he falls to the ground, along with the scooter, water, and lunch spilling out all around us. I motion to the driver once more, this time a 'SORRY!' and realize there are now three more cars behind him. I pick up all his his snacks and scooter with one hand and some some sort of instinctual mom ninja move with the other, which consists of a quick arm around his middle, carrying him sideways while he screams and cries, legs and boots lashing out into the thin air behind us. I am sick, my muscles hurt, I am tired and sweating, and I have fresh snot streaming down my own face from an awful sinus infection with no free arm to wipe it away. But we make it across the street. And the driver's are shaking their heads in frustration and disdain as they pass and turn by us. True story, and I'm embarrassed.
But any mother, even the most loving, kind-hearted, patient, and Mother Teresa of all mothers will tell you: motherhood is hard work. Some days, are just hard. Motherhood is really not for the weak. It is not for the tired. And it is certainly not for the lazy.
Your child will hit, kick, slap, and bite you. They will poke you deep in your eyeball because they think it's funny. They will throw a golf ball square at your mouth from a foot away because they don't understand. They will backslap you across the face in the middle of the night just as you fell into a rare, coveted, deep sleep. They will step on and break your new lap top. They will scream at the top of their lungs at you in the middle of the street, in the middle of Macy's, in the middle of swimboree class, and of course when you're on an important phone call. That same child will keep you up all night, because they don't feel like sleeping in their new bed all alone, and because they have the fine luxury of taking naps during the day. And you will be waking up for the day no later than 3 hours from when they finally go back to bed, with a migraine and eye bags and going about your day when all of a sudden its past noon and you realize you forgot to brush your teeth, put on deodorant, and comb your hair. But if you're lucky, another mother will see you while you're frantically looking for your keys or cell phone, and give a kind, understanding smile and entertain your kid with funny faces while you simultaneously unload your grocery cart.
But even after all of that has occurred, and it's typical that the events described above will all happen within the same 24 hours - but that same day - you will hear your child call you "mau mau" for the first time. Your. heart. will. melt. Your darling baby will hold onto your legs as you let him to the ground and refuse to let go of you. He will see you the second you arrive to pick him up from childcare with the biggest, brightest, most excited eyes, and run to you and hug you. He will laugh hysterically at you when you jump out and scare him or when you do something quirky and think you're the most clever comedian in the whole world. He will look up at you with concerned eyes for encouragement or discipline when he's not sure if he should do something. He will give you a kiss. A big, fat, beautiful kiss right square on your lips. He will have you lay down on his bed, he will turn off his bedroom light, motion and say "shhhh" to you, put his blankie near your face, gently pat your head, and try to put you to sleep the exact way you do to him. And all this will make you forget all the crap they put you through earlier that day.
My little one is turning 2 and 1/2 this month. Our time together has truly flown by at the speed of light. I am amazed that we've all survived this long with no major hiccups because sometimes, it's been really, really hard. But that's exactly the thing - the hardest things in life are the most rewarding. No matter how bad it gets, and it does get bad, it is also amazing. Absolutely amazing. And at the end of every day, I am always, always grateful for my child. For who he is, for who he is growing up to be, and for who he makes me. I never knew how strong I could be. I didn't know the capacity I have for not giving up or taking the easy way out. I never knew my capacity for true, unconditional, self-sacrificial love and I never knew how big this feeling of love and protection could be. It is simply overwhelming and it is truly indescribable to be someone's mother and to feel those thousands of feelings every single minute of every single day.
And this love is enough to get us through the hard.
Thank you for everything you've given me. You are loved so very, very much. (Even when you're a little stinker).