There was a morning… I can’t tell you the exact date but I can tell you exactly what it looked like.
It was about a year ago because I had a 1 and a 2 year old. For those of you who aren’t parents having a 1 year old is hard. Having a 2 year old is really hard. Having a 1 year old and a 2 year old at the same time is really fucking hard. Rewarding and marvelous and beautiful a lot of the time, yes. But also really fucking hard. Something can be beautiful and rewarding and really fucking hard all at the same time, I promise you it’s possible.
Right then though it wasn’t beautiful or rewarding though. I had been pooped on exactly 2 times, peed on once, and thrown up on once as well just in those few hours of the morning. I had read the exact. same. fucking. book… incidentally the book I was so sick of I was ready to throw away… at least 15 times, and I’m not exaggerating for the sake of this story at all. I had listened to more relentless whining than I could shake a stick at. And I had been bitten, bitten in the fucking boob. I hadn’t seen David in any for more than a few minutes and I had no indication I would get a chance to spend any quality time with him anytime soon. And every day from the past few week had looked more or less the same, with not even close to enough interaction with other adults and almost no time with my beloved husband who was current very very into rock climbing which (in addition to being a full time student and working) took him away from the house a lot.
I was lonely. I was sad. I was tired of touching other people’s bodily fluids. I was tired of the completely obscene amount of whining I’d dealt with that day and the numerous days before that. And to be 100% honest I was seriously doubting my choices in life.
About that time David got home and I had a chance to run downtown for an errand I had been needing to do for a while, and on my way home I came to the sign saying that my exit from the I-10 onto the I-17 was two miles ahead. The I-17 took me home… to my kids, to my life, to the to do list I had that was a million miles long and was never ever going to get completed, and to the husband who was ready for me to take over again so he could get out of there and on to something else he needed or wanted to do… leaving me home by myself. Again.
The I-10 would take me somewhere else though… anywhere else. Actually it would take me straight to California, the place my pre-baby dreams had always assumed I would be by now. It would take me away from the poop and the puke and the bodily fluids, away from all the loneliness and sadness and felling like I wasn’t good enough and feeling like a massive failure for having these feelings at all. If I stayed on the I-10 going west nobody would be able to find me if I didn’t want them too. I’ve known enough sketchy people in my life to know the basics of starting a new life with a new name and identity.
And I realized, I absolutely don’t have to go home if I don’t want to. Motherhood was not something I had to continue doing.
I could leave. If I just kept going on this road I could be gone forever, be done with all of it, and nobody would be able to stop me.
I didn’t have to keep being a mom if I didn’t want to.
And that realization was one of the most freeing things I’ve ever realized in my life. Going home to my kids wasn’t something I was forced to do. I wasn’t trapped in some cage, unable to escape. I could leave anytime I wanted to. But I didn’t want to. Regardless of the poop and vomit and so so so much whining… so much more whining than I have ever or ever will want to deal with again… I wanted to go home and see them. I wanted to stick it out and see what happened tomorrow. I wanted to keep going, even though I knew I didn’t have to. So I turned onto the I-17 instead of going straight.
I’m not here because I have no other choice, I’m here because I want to be. I’m not home with my kids during the day because I can’t find a job… I totally could. I’m not a parent because I have no way of escaping… I know how. I’m not married to David because I said some vows five years ago and in doing so gave up any subsequent right to change my mind, I’m married to him because I choose to stay and make it work when it’s amazing and when it’s so frustrating I want to claw my own eyes out.
Not having to be a mother is the best thing that’s ever happened to my mothering… because that morning when I realized I could choose so many other things instead I freed myself from any guilt or regret or bitterness over what was happening to me right now no matter how soul sucking it may feel in the moment. It gave me the ability to let go on any resentment I had for where I was at and let me love and accept my kids for who they were even when they were… because I chose to love and accept them so obviously I had a good reason (even if I couldn’t remember it in the moment of being whined at and simultaneously pooped on… again….) and let me live today while hoping tomorrow would be better because without choice I don’t think that’s possible.
I don’t have to be a mom if I don’t want to be. And that’s part of what makes actually being one so amazing.