I recognize that look. The furrowed brow, the constrained eyes with pupils narrowing towards the center into a cold stare. It’s not her wearing the expression that I am familiar with, but the expression itself.
It’s like the pair of patent leather pumps she loves to pull out of my closet step into and play mommy. Just like her favorite pair of my shoes she is familiar with trying on, so is this expression.
I recognize that it belongs to me. My face knows how to, involuntarily, turn that exasperated and cold in seconds. I look down and realize that my sweet child isn’t misbehaving but is instead just playing mommy using the accessory she’s so familiar seeing me wear, frustration.
In that moment I feel what it is like to be her. Tired of trying so hard but constantly still getting it a little wrong. Tired of not yet knowing how to really make the change that I want next. Tired of the roller coaster of falling in and out of love with so many aspects of daily life.
I realize that our conflicts exist not simply because she is 4 but because, despite the years between us, in this moment we are similar in our differences.
I don’t want to match her distain with more of the same any more than she wants to let her temper tantrum escalate. Instead I want to kneel down, put her tiny fingers and smooth skin into my palms and give her a big hug.
I want to tell her I wish she hadn’t seen that face so many times that she knows how to portray a level of exhaustion and frustration that can only be reserved for a 30 something mother leading an extremely blessed life; yet completely unable to step outside of the frustration of mothering through a mundane afternoon long enough to see her blessings.
This is an excerpt from motherhood. Not just mine or yours but anyone’s.
This is the part of motherhood that leaves us drained and constantly grasping for emotional equilibrium. The part that for many is the most challenging yet the least spoken.
More often than not, I always end up nearly overwhelmed by my feeling of blessings once the kids are asleep.
Instead of being exhausted like I have been for the entire day with the kids, I become energized. I could barely keep my eyes open playing dolls on the floor yet somehow in the deep silence of a quiet house I want nothing more than to be wide awake, melting into a couch and mindlessly escaping into some terrible reality television program.
The clarity of getting even just an hour alone refocuses the entire day.
I’m pained by reflecting on the times that day I didn’t treat them the way I am trying to teach them to treat others. While earlier I wanted nothing more than to be off running errands by myself I now want nothing more than to wake them up hold them tight and just do the entire day better.
But I don’t. In fear or waking them and awaking my previous state of frustration. Instead I fall asleep by finding a sliver of hope that tomorrow I will wake up and remember exactly how blessed and hopeful I feel right now.