(Actually There Is...It's Just Facing a Few Interruptions)
Lately, I have felt a lot of angst. And a lack of focus. And a sense of confusion regarding my place in the world. I feel like, each day, I am just spinning my wheels with no real purpose (aside from feeding the mouths of my family and taking care of the bits and pieces of life that no one else cares to handle).
I didn’t always feel this way, though. Before I was a mom, I used to have goals. And dreams. And the motivation to work towards something. But lately…(sigh)…I feel so lost. I’m starting to wonder where I’m going, what I’m doing and exactly where I am in the midst of all of it. (Existential crisis, anyone!?!)
As I was scrubbing the toilets the other day, trying to erase the urine marks of a yet-unskilled boy child’s gruesome target practice, it dawned on me that this is not where I envisioned myself being — not just the whole toilet wand-wielding part, but ALL OF IT! Every. Single. Bit.
By this point in my life, when I was young, I figured I would be so much further along with things. Career. Friendships. Enlightenment. Or, you know, just feeling like a normal person who belonged somewhere. But I actually don’t. I still feel stunted in all of those ways (and more!) and I don’t know how to fix it. Add to that: I’m also too embarrassed to tell anyone.
In my pondering, I considered the notion that perhaps this reality vs. expectation shift is something experienced (though not spoken about) by many other fellow mothers. I mean, the grunt work required in being a mom is NOTHING like the fantasy that any of us envisioned. Scrubbing vomit out of car seats, caddying umpteen bowls of snacks and searching for lost loveys is probably not what most of us were sold when we embarked on having a child. But, somehow, it’s where we all seem to end up. And, eventually, when we fall prey to the rare silent moments of introspection (as with bathroom cleaning), there may even come a point when the following thought comes to mind — there is NO “me” in motherhood!
Alas, these were the exact words that fell from my mouth as I toiled. Thinking myself quite clever, I chuckled at the pithiness of this subconscious musing. I said it aloud a second time, for good measure, and admittedly felt a release in these words. In a way, it was tragically euphoric — leaning over a toilet, laughing gently in a quiet room, pondering my own placement in the grand scheme. But then I stopped, put down the scrubbing brush and spelled out the silly word for myself : M-o-t-h-E-r-h-o-o-d .
Dammit! Shockingly, and unbeknownst to my psyche, there actually was a “me” in motherhood. It had been there the entire time, too. In my haze of fatigue and frustration, I had just somehow missed it. The only thing that stood in the way of those two, unassuming letters (the “m” and the “e”) was the presence of a few, small interruptions. Three, actually. Akin to my own soft, cuddly creatures of chaos, they nestled themselves right in the middle of everything, maintaining center stage as the reliable old me was pushed off to each side.
However, if I craned my neck and looked at it a new way, I noticed a few things I hadn’t contemplated before. These gaps in the continuum were more than obstacle course officiants and makers of mayhem. They were letters that could be words unto themselves with potential for so much more. But before they would ever embark on journeys of their own, their first act of transformation was to shape me into something larger. Without them, my meager existence as a two-letter pronoun would never have flourished into the bigger word that I have become: a mother.
Yeah, it sucks that because of them I can’t sit in a chair for more than five minutes before I’m summoned to help someone with something. And I can no longer hold a train of thought for any substantial amount of time. Not to mention the fact that I can’t jump on a trampoline or scream at the top of my lungs without a little pee escaping my body. None of that is important, right? I mean, maybe it would be nice to get the latter thing fixed… What was I saying? Oh yeah.
Even though those three letters can be a hot mess sometimes (literally), they bring so much more to my life — a richness in meaning and a depth of feelings that I never knew I could possess. Of course, it’s not easy to labor in a way that offers few instant rewards. Some days, it’s only a downright dogged cluster of funky fortitude that gets me through. And a caffeinated soda. But it’s MY cluster of funky. And even if I get lost in the metaphors, I need to remind myself that I’m not going anywhere. I’ll still be here when they’re all grown up and my time returns to me.
For now, it’s okay…and normal…to feel a bit displaced from my goals. I mean, whoever feels like they’ve reached their life’s potential when they’re stuck on latrine duty?! But FUCK IT! Nothing is forever. Not even this. And some day I will look back on this era, with another sort of brush in hand, remembering the moment when I realized exactly everything that went into motherhood. And, you know what, it was ME! I was there the entire time! I just had to stop and remember how to spell the word.