I am just here to relax for an hour--I left Reuben with my mother in law. He was happily playing with a balloon when I snuck out. I have zero baby-related items on my person and I left my hair down. Right now I am perfectly happy and relaxed, typing words out between bites of smoothie. (Can we pause for a minute over how weird it is to eat a smoothie with a spoon?)
Anyway, this calm moment has me thinking. What do we moms of young children need? More free time? A maid? A bigger, baby-proof house? A husband who cooks? I will take all of the above, but will it really solve my issue? Will it finally "be enough"?
Every day with Reuben is wonderful. And every day with Reuben is hard. Every day I struggle to come to terms with the roller coaster that is my life. I mean--hourly, it seems, I thank God for my son. I cherish him. But I also pray fervently that daddy comes home early. And I am struck by this utter emotional chasm that exists in my life. It's hard not to know who I am. Am I the tired mom who hasn't showered and is desperately desiring a cookie and a moment alone? Am I the mom who just finished the dishes while baby-wearing and singing childish songs to Reuben while swaying side to side to amuse him? Am I the delighted mom who plays with her child blissfully, reading him book after book and stacking block after block?
The correct answer is I am all of the above. I am all those moms. I do all those things. I can be all that and more. I don't need to be just the tired mom or just the fulfilled mom or just the busy mom. I am ALL THOSE MOMS.
Every time (since becoming a mother) when people ask me "how are you" I feel so conflicted. And confused. How am I? It always takes me awhile to figure out how to answer, and most of the time I just say fine. Because I can't think of just one word that would encompass how I actually am in that moment. I think it's because I am everything at once most the time! Before I was a mom I never had this issue--I was fine or good or knitting or hungry---and these feelings existed more or less by themselves within me. Now "how I am" is much more complicated.
I'm learning that life isn't limited to just one thing, at just one time. It's a beautiful melting pot of all the things. It's possible to be thankful and tired all at once. And I'm glad I realized this, because it took all the guilt out of it. I can recognize a struggle and ask for help while feeling grateful at the same time. And I don't have to feel crushing guilt over needing help, or over not feeling the "motherhood bliss" at that particular moment. No one is happy all the time. Why do I expect to be happy all the time?
I can be thankful I have Reuben and also wish for an hour away from him at a little local shop to recuperate from raising my tiny, unformed human. One feeling does not have to define the moment. I can be more things than just one emotion. I can be more. I can be. And I am. At least, I've finally given myself permission to be.
And that is what Mom's need. Permission to be.