The Price Tag of Being Authentic

When I first sat down to write this blog I was more than a little bit down on being a stay-at-home mother. I was tired, and not in the sleep-deprived sense, although I’m sure the fact that I haven’t slept past 8:00 a.m. in three and a half years could possibly have something to do with my growing sense of discontent. This was a different kind of fatigue, the kind that makes you feel like you have no movement in your life, the kind that makes you feel stuck, the run-down feeling of running in place. I was getting up every morning and doing what I thought every good mother should do — revolving the entirety of my days around my children’s needs and desires. Our daily routine was monotonous, each hour unfolding rhythmically, the day punctuated by mealtimes and naps, an afternoon excursion to the grocery store or a play date or a trip to the park the high point of our day.

For a good long while, this life sustained me. I wanted so much to be a mother that when my dream finally came true not once but twice, I built a bubble of bliss around myself and my children. This is what you waited for your whole life I would tell myself. This is what you were put on this earth to do I would remind myself. And I convinced myself that I would enjoy it. Every single second of it. You see, what I erected around myself and my children was a snow globe life. Our house was a place where everything was perfect; only happiness and joy and kindness could exist there. Just like a bucolic snow globe scene has no place for dissatisfaction or loneliness or frustration, our life and my thoughts didn’t have room for them either. I had masterfully engineered a world where like the snowflakes in a snow globe, love would shower down on my children and settle comfortably at their feet. It was my mission to create a world where we would experience only health and happiness, never discomfort or pain.

It sounds silly in retrospect, but I really felt this way, and it was only when I acknowledged a growing restlessness with my life that I began to understand the truth: snow globe living is not real. The irritation, loneliness and discontentment that I wasn’t allowing myself to feel are real human emotions that we all have, that we must have if we are to live authentic lives. What I had not allowed myself before in my snow globe existence was to admit that yes, I find aspects of motherhood tedious and mind numbing. I miss working outside the home, earning money for my hard work and having some part of my life be independent of my family. I miss thinking and reading and writing, and simply interacting with adults. That’s the truth, and it is liberating to proclaim it. In allowing myself to feel the underside of being a mother, I am allowing myself to exist in the real world, one in which anger, sadness and frustration are necessary price tags for being authentic.

And so here I am devoid of my former snow globe thinking and wondering where my fresh new outlook on motherhood will take me. Now that my feet are planted firmly in reality (which ironically is snow-covered here in northeastern PA), I am hoping to use this blog to explore the ecstasy and the anguish of being a mommy. It is my ardent belief that by acknowledging and even embracing the struggles, I can revel in the joys that much more, which is why as I write this I can’t help but think back to how delicious my son’s cheek felt next to mine when I danced with him today in the living room or how I just about melted when at dinner tonight my daughter whispered into my ear, “Psst…I love you.” Wouldn’t it be something if all it took to soak up and appreciate every last morsel of our children’s wonderfulness was to come to terms with the fact that they also drive us crazy? A collection of contradictions. Looks like there’s a post for next time.