By Christine Koehring of The Salty Mamas
I woke up this morning and shuffled through the kitchen to turn on the kettle. Pregnancy taste buds have ruined the taste of coffee, providing me an additional hurdle on these mornings that are all at once completely untethered and yet bound by homeschooling and endless expectations.
The house is relatively quiet, as I breathe what I’m sure will be the last calm breath for many hours to come. Chaos lurks around the corner, particularly in the form of three children with limitless energy in a world now devoid of swing sets and games of tag in the large park across the street.
If you ask the perfect moms with the white carpets and organic fruit being blended into homemade popsicles: this is our moment. This is the time that we are supposed to cherish it all and shine, a beacon of positive energy.
Instead I’m cherishing Mario Kart and sugary cereals. I’m cherishing lowered expectations and all the screens. I’m cherishing noise cancelling headphones and Netflix.
And sure, there are days that are puzzlingly easy and beautiful. Days where the world is homemade popsicles dripping down their now sticky chins in the backyard. We laugh and make the memories I’ve read we’re supposed to be cherishing. I’ll even take a picture and post it on Facebook or Instagram in order to join the ranks of parents in the midst of a full cherish moment.
Unfortunately, the moment never ends with sticky laughter. There are hands to clean. Patios to hose down. Baths to give. Bathrooms to dry from the tsunami the kids created. Dinner to cook. Bedtime routines to fight through.
If we’re lucky, maybe there’s a cocktail or a pint – nay, gallon – of ice cream to console us once they’re finally asleep.
Tomorrow it will begin again. Maybe it will be a tough day with too much screen time. Maybe it will be a day full of idyllic snapshot memories. But both will be hard. Different, but challenging.
Being in the house all day means seeing unfinished projects everywhere. It means cleaning one room while they play in another creating yet another mess that waits for me. It means endless meals creating endless dishes and requiring endless online grocery shopping where I pray we get what we need.
The stresses begin to get in the way of all that cherishing.
Because I want to say that I’ll cherish these moments forever, but what I want deep down is a hot shower alone with no one interrupting it.
I want to say that quarantine has brought me and my husband closer together. But the truth is I cried last night because he didn’t seem happy enough when he did the dishes.
I read the stories of other Moms that are happily making sensory bins, constantly baking bread and genuinely enjoying all of this extra time with their families. There’s a part of me that asks, who puts away all those parts of the sensory bins when they’re finally ignored? What about the flour that gets everywhere? Don’t you ever just want to be alone?
When the magical part of the story ends, what happens next?
Some days I feel like I’m living in that “next” part. I’ve played all the board games with my kids and made the dirt pudding cups overflowing with crushed Oreo’s and gummy worms. We’ve had family movie nights and camped out in the backyard. But this isn’t a day off. This isn’t a weekend. And I can’t sustain this forever.
I have work that needs to get done. Homeschooling that needs to get checked off my to-do list. A house that needs cleaning more than ever. My responsibilities and pressures didn’t disappear, they increased exponentially.
And yet, I still see the Moms that are killing it. That are apparently cherishing every moment. Maybe it’s a facade? Maybe it’s a load of BS. Maybe they just don’t know how to turn off Instagram mode and get real for a minute.
Because I imagine there’s a lot more of us like me out there. Broken Moms that want to love the little things, but are struggling to make it to bedtime. Moms that will cherish what we can. Clean up the messes. And keep providing for our kids until we are all on the other side of this.
About the Author
Christine Koehring blogs at TheSaltyMamas.com with blogging partner and honorary co-parent, Jaymi. She has three very small children and one very tall husband. Christine relies on coffee, the rare solo trip to Target, more coffee, and a LOT of humor to survive the crazy experiment that is parenting.