By Alison Lee
The hours of 5:00 to 6:30 in the morning are my favorite. I feel like myself because I’m alone. I do my thing. The only butt I wipe is mine, the only beverage I fetch is my coffee, and the only sound is Adele’s music in my ears and my fingers on the keyboard.
What kind of monster mother am I to confess that when 6:30 comes along, my mood switches. I am short and snappy, barking orders and shushing tiny people. I efficiently guide the four people I chose to conceive, birth, raise, and love to morning readiness. Clean, dressed and fed by 7:30 am – check. Loving morning greetings, hugs, and kisses – oh.
Each morning at 7:30 the shame envelops me like a familiar stranger. I let the dark cloak drape over my shoulders, then simultaneously try to shake it off. I move the muscles on my face (“Turn that frown upside down!”) and quell the urge to shout, “Shut up!” more than once. I clench my teeth and hate myself.
I did not have dreams to be a mother. I always thought I’d suck, and in the morning, I am reminded that perhaps I was right. Motherhood doesn’t suit me. I’m the girl who loves working in a dynamic environment, driving too fast in my favorite wedges, drinking hot coffee too quickly and getting to my emails efficiently. I was that girl, oh yes. I was a good worker. I was good with budgets, planning events, shaking hands with celebrities, flying around the world with members of the media. I was good at looking after myself because that was my true self.
I don’t recognize myself in the morning now. I am ragey and shoutey. I’m still in my pajamas, the cleavage sweat reeking, my mouth dry from too much caffeine and not enough water. I am not loving, sweet or nice. I cannot stand myself.
“The way we talk to our children become their inner voice.”
“Let’s raise children who won’t have to recover from their childhoods.”
“A good mother is irreplaceable.”
The motherhood quotes floating around the Internet shame me.
I am a monster of a mother.
“Mama, you are beautiful,” my second child tells me as I pour cereal into a bowl.
“Mama, don’t be angry,” familiar words from my firstborn.
“They cry and scream all the time. What am I doing wrong? Do they hate me?” I ask as my husband looks at me, wishing he could tell me what I want to hear, that they don’t.
There is no pretty bow to tie up this story. I am deep in the trenches of motherhood where juggling the needs of a first-grader, kindergartner, and twin toddlers is bringing me to my knees. I know the “dangers” of technological babysitters and yelling at my children.
I am a monster.
I am a mother.
I am a monstermothermonstermothermonstermother.
I want to tell you I will do better. Each day as I rise at 5:00 am, I vow to do better. Many days, I fail. My guilt wraps my mind, my love for my children grows.
There is no bow, I suppose. This path of motherhood is fraught with potholes, and I step into each one. I can only pick myself up and try again.
5:00 am. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Go.
About the Author
Alison Lee is the co-editor of Multiples Illuminated: A Collection of Stories and Advice from Parents of Twins, Triplets and More, a writer, and publisher. A former PR and marketing professional, Alison’s writing has been featured in Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, BonBon Break, Feminine Collective, Club Mid, and two anthologies. Alison lives in Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins). Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.