The Questions. They catch you off guard. They jolt you back for a moment. You look at the questioner like a deer in headlights. You blink, speechless and dumbfounded.
And then (after a too awkward silence,) you gulp as you realize the questioner is still waiting on an answer.
The Questions. They are always there. They come at the same time for everyone. And yet, never are a single one of us prepared to face them; let alone answer them.
If my memory serves me right, The Questions usually begin as soon as you step out into the big scary world on your own and just never really seem to stop after that.
“So, what are you going to do with your life after you graduate college?” “Congratulations on your engagement! When is the wedding?” “You just got married? Congratulations! When will you start having kids?” “Congratulations on your first born! Are you going to be having more kids?” It’s actually very similar to being trapped inside of car going 400 mph, impossibly out of reach of the eject button.
Is it too much to ask to be able to enjoy and savor each and every major life milestone for what it is without having to worry about the next?
Apparently, yes, it is too much too ask.
We then enter the realm of The Questions of Motherhood. Very similar to the The Questions, The Questions of Motherhood are extremely general and yet even more invasive.
“Was your child planned?” “Do you plan to have more?” “What do you do all day?” “Do your children dress themselves?” “Do you breastfeed?” “Do you co-sleep?” “C-section or vaginal delivery?” “Are they all yours?” (My new personal favorite by the way.) “When?” “Where?” “Why?” “How?” Yes. The Questions of Motherhood more often than not feel like a personal attack on your abilities as a mother instead of just a simple question.
This past December I gave birth to my third daughter. Nowadays, The Questions of Motherhood that I am asked revolve around how full my hands are (yes, very) and if we will be trying for a boy (ask me again in a year.) But the one Question that I am asked most often and the one that I find most poignant is “what is it like having three?”
To me, it’s The Questions of all Questions. It doesn’t catch me as off guard as other Questions, nonetheless I’m always left a little puzzled. What answer is the questioner, who is usually another young mom like myself, looking for? “Oh, it’s wonderful! Best decision we ever made!” Or an honest “it’s a circus, it’s a nut show. I’m going utterly and completely insane.” I refrained from using any expletives on that last one, so feel free to use your imagination.
Finding Your Un-Balance
What is it like having three children? It is all of that. It is wonderful and it is also a loud, crazy and sadly disorganized circus. Where do you find the balance in that?
You don’t. It’s more than a day-by-day thing. It’s a moment-by-moment, fly by the seat of your pants thing. You constantly have to shut off the Negative Nancy’s of the outside world and also the ones swimming around your brain just waiting for the right moment to tell you that you are failing miserably as a mother.
Life, ladies and gentlemen, is a roller coaster. There are ups and downs and downs and downs. And then, finally, another up. This is the same exact case with motherhood. No matter how many children you have.
My husband can call me at 3:04pm on a Tuesday, only to hear me sobbing hysterically that I have locked myself in the pantry because I just don’t know how to mother any more. Husband can then talk me out of said panic attack and I brush off my shoulders, wipe my tears and open the pantry door with a half smile, half ready to continue on with my day while simultaneously counting down the hours until bedtime.
My husband can call, on the exact same day at 3:16pm and I have to put him on speakerphone because I can’t hear him over the giggles and squeals of a tickle party involving all three of my beautiful children. And no, I don’t have time to talk right now because my heart is quite literally about to burst with joy! I am, in this moment, the very best mother in the universe! However, if I’m being brutally honest, my bubble is usually popped within five minutes when someone gets their hair pulled or some other minor disaster quickly calls me back to reality.
Is this the ultimate key to motherhood? As with most of my answers, I just don’t know. But, I know that this is what works for me. This is what helps me survive this extremely challenging phase of my life with a 5 year old, 4 year old and a 9 month old. I accept the roller coaster that is my day-to-day and my moment-by-moment. I accept the ups and I accept the downs. I accept the fact that in the moment, the “downs” might seem like the world is imploding. I also acknowledge that the ups, those sweet and amazing up moments, can almost always cancel out the downs. I accept my chaos and I give thanks for the health and happiness of my children. I take moments to enjoy them being little, because yes, I know it doesn’t last forever. I take more pictures of them than is necessary; I breathe in the sweet scent of their hair; I let my heart skip a beat when they reach out for my hand; I listen to their silly stories and smile genuine smiles with them.