I am really struggling with this third baby, and I’m finding myself more and more frustrated with it. “C’mon, girl. This is your third. Don’t you know what you’re doing yet? Women all over America do this by themselves. Why can’t you?”
I think back to my first and second, trying to recall why I didn’t feel half this crazy.
I had help.
With my first, I was living with my parents while my husband went to school. With my second, we lived with my in-laws. There was always an extra set of hands to say, “Here, lemme snuggle that baby so you can sleep/shower/eat.” Nothing major, but just enough to keep me sane. The household didn’t pivot on whether I was functional or not. I was able to sleep when the baby slept (more like forced to with my first, for my need to get all chores done. My mother about had a fit seeing that…. Naps were then taken). If I didn’t have the energy to make dinner, someone else could make it or pizza was bought.
With the third, we’re (finally!!) living on our own. I have two older boys who behave like normal siblings. My middle is acting exactly like any other momma’s toddler would with a new kid on the block. I have no one during the day to keep the older kids entertained while I nurse (though the TV does a valiant effort), and I have no one to hold the baby while I do laundry and make dinner.
What makes these realities frustrating is that I feel guilty for having them. Do moms across America really function so well, or are we all continuing to put on our pearls and gloves to vacuum, posting perfect pictures and “look at me do this pinteresty thing” on Facebook like our grandmothers kept appearances in the 50s. And if I’m not the only mom to struggle like this, why don’t we talk about it more? I feel like I’m failing in motherhood if I can’t wear the baby like a corsage while I wash dishes and fold clothes. I feel like I’m failing whenever the toddler mean mugs someone and then smacks his brother. I feel like a failure when I can’t make a trip to the store without looking like a crazy person. Please tell me I’m not the only one.
And if I’m not the only one, why are we all suffering in silence alone? Why do we have this incessant need to do it all on our own?
Generations upon generations lived commune-style, grandmothers and mothers and daughters and aunts and uncles and sons and fathers and grandfathers all living around and with each other. There were cousins to play with and extra hands to help and (in many cultures) time set aside specifically for the new mother and baby. Chores were shared, as was caring for the children. On the men’s side, the entirety of financial survival didn’t ride on their shoulders alone. So why did it change?
I refuse to believe I’m the only one struggling behind a mask of pinterest-perfect projects. And if that’s the case, I want to team up with moms near me. Taking turns babysitting each other’s kids for date nights, doctor’s visits, and trips to the store child-free. Shopping together so there’s more than one set of eyes and arms for multiple kids. Inviting one another over for dinner or lunch once a week to give each other a break.
I’m struggling. I feel pathetic writing that. Some people will roll their eyes, call me dramatic, and begin telling me how they survived with their children just fine. And I’m so happy for you! I wish I had that talent. But, I don’t. So next time you see a “look at this craft” status or “I just made this awesome dinner” post, take it with a grain of salt. I can nearly guarantee that craft will look the same as that picture for weeks, and it’s my “I-need-a-moment” sanity saver. And that dinner probably had all of three ingredients I just tossed together (but jerk chicken sandwiches with mango cucumber salsa sounds super fancy, doesn’t it?). And when I ask if any other moms need to hit up HEB, I’m being serious. Just so you know.