“Every day feels like a victory,” I laughed in answer to the casual chatter of how my day was going.
But yes, truly, every single day I feel like that.
Every single morning, I roll myself out of bed, and every single day I have to pace myself in order to make it to the children's bedtimes roughly 14 hours later. Once they are in bed, I know what it feels like to have won a war, or at least the battle.
I suppose my death isn't at stake in my daily life as a mother of two young children. And there is certainly ample joy in my endeavors. However, as I shut the doors to their bedrooms at night and hold my breath, bracing myself for one last “Mama!” or a chubby little hand turning the doorknob, I often feel like a person who fought hard through a long, grueling battle, giving it all she's got and maybe, just maybe, will get to live another day.
I glance at the other mothers with young children at preschool drop-off when I'm struggling to keep my feisty, joyful 2 year-old from running headlong into the parking lot while simultaneously urging my anxious and wonderfully sensitive 4 year-old to get his backpack and begging him For the Love of God, to please keep his hands to himself today, and I wonder how those moms do it.
To the naked eye, few of them resemble who I envision as my fellow hustling soldiers, war-torn and tattered (like me). Some of them wear jeans. Jeans! And shoes that have heels on them. I glance down at my well-worn black yoga pants and one of my three sweatshirts and try not to feel badly about myself. Our war paint, combat gear, and survival methods might appear different on the surface, but we all have our challenges, I try to remember.
After leaving the school parking lot, I will wonder-- every time-- if my son will be safe and happy there. I'll wonder if my toddler will take a nap so that I can breathe for a bit before the afternoon routine begins. I'll wonder if feeding them Happy Meals for a second night this week will make me an irresponsible mother. I'll wonder if staying home with them full-time really is in our family's best interest. I'll wonder if that leftover sugar cookie is still hidden in the cabinet...
Blink, and the afternoon begins: Pre-school pick up. Afternoon snacks. Outdoor time. Nick Jr. time. Dinner time. Daddy time. Fun time. Story time. Bed time. I know how the rest of the day will work out, a familiar-- sometimes happy and comforting, other times excruciatingly boring-- routine peppered with sibling rivalry and love. The afternoon hours will be sprinkled with happy laughter and plenty of tears. Sounds of The Wiggles will commingle with shouts of “she hit me!” and Kowabunga dude! Mostly friendly fire. Fire that both energizes and exhausts.
When my husband and I manage to get our soft, squishy children into their little beds each night, after the countless urgings to brush their teeth, the never-ending story requests, and the tiny wet kisses, I exhale. I feel mostly proud of the day I gave them. After all, I love them so much I would die for them, as any good soldier would.
Then, tiptoeing slowly down the stairs, I'll wonder how I possibly survived the last 14 hours and how the heck I will do it all over again tomorrow.
What metaphor would you use for your current stage of life?
~Julia @ Frantic Mama