A few weeks ago I was scrolling Facebook, as one does, when I came across a lengthy passage on parenthood that resonated really strongly with me. Penned by popular American writer and educator, Amy Betters Midtvedt, it captured the irony of our misguided expectations (and let’s face it, false hope) as mothers that, once our kids got a bit older, it would all get just a tad easier, less stressful, and less demanding. Right? Right?! So very, very wrong.
There it is, folks. Motherhood never stops – and just as our kids grow, so too does the complexity of the world they’re trying to navigate and their need for our guidance and support. Worse problems, more heartache, bigger risks.
For me, Amy’s Facebook post in perfectly equal parts both lamented and paid tribute to the ongoing labour of motherhood, no matter how many years you’ve been on the job.
With Amy’s permission, we’re reprinting the post this tribute to motherhood in its entirety below. Here’s to you, mums…
I just knew once my kids were older I’d have all sorts of time. I’d read books and watch shows uninterrupted. And have huge amounts of time to just write. I’d be way more rested because they would all sleep through the night. And they would be able to talk through their troubles which would be so much less stressful than trying to figure out why a baby was crying.
They wouldn’t need an hour-long tuck-in and could bathe their own bodies and basically, my nights would just be my own. They’d be able to drive and go to the store for me and we wouldn’t need a babysitter on a Saturday night.
There was so much time in my delusional future.
And yet somehow I sit here, exhausted to my core. And there is no longer a 7pm bedtime, when they’d all be safely in their rooms, in sight. Instead, they have become creatures of the night who stay up to all hours and who also might make actual meals at 11pm.
They can tell you what they are worried about and they are real, large adult things you can’t fix with a bandaid or a blankie.
Every time they leave in a car your heart ups its worry factor by at least 10%. There is still so much to teach them and so nights are spent talking about how they can perfect the rice they are making for supper or get a stain out of their favourite sweatshirt or helping with homework and college essays.
There’s so much refereeing of the cleaning of the kitchen you should wear stripes and have a whistle and be paid for the hour you lose every night to telling them to just get along and for the love of God wipe down the counter.
And you’ll spend your nights watching their shows in hopes of keeping them out of their rooms and your books will still gather dust on your bedside table and you’ll still be too tired to read them at bedtime. Also, Saturday nights are spent driving kids or waiting for kids to come in from curfew or watching them do all the things. And you’re not up with them in the middle of the night but the amount of time your brain spends thinking about them in the middle of the night is straight-up bananas.
Yet they will come up to you out of the blue and put their head in your lap and just need to sit like that without saying a word because they still need you in the biggest most important ways.
You will smooth back their hair and kiss their foreheads and love will overflow from your heart. And you won’t want to move a muscle just exactly like when you finally got them to sleep when they were babies because you won’t want the moment to end.
I’ve never been more tired even though no one needs me to feed them at 4am or look for monsters under their bed. They need me in ways that are more exhausting to my mind and my heart and my soul. And I know that I’m so lucky to be this tired and I know time is moving so fast. I have less time than ever now that my people are big but I have the gift of knowing every moment matters. Every single solitary exhausting love-and-sometimes-anxiety-filled moment.
So yup…still no time, still tired. Still wouldn’t have it any other way.