I waved to a fellow mama dropping her daughter off late to school today.
“It’s nice to know my kid isn’t the only late one!” I joked cheerily. I was having a good day. It’s sunny outside. I managed to summon the ambition to walk my kid to school and enjoy some fresh air, even though she had had an accident seconds before we walked out the door. I was all raindrops on roses.
She seemed a bit zombified. “My girl won’t go to sleep. She went to bed at 11:30pm last night and then couldn’t wake up this morning.”
“Oh man. That is rough for YOU. I was so excited to get my alone time when Aria was little, I put her to bed at 7pm.”
“I’ve tried everything. She’s just a night owl. We have zero time as husband and wife. It’s rough.”
She got back in her minivan and drove away, coffee in hand. Mustering a smile as she waved goodbye.
This may not seem like much—just part of the classic parenting rite of passage—but to me it is. These are the dark spaces in between the bright moments of mothering when we don’t say what we’re actually feeling for fear of making ourselves too vulnerable and open to judgment. “I’m having a really hard time. I need a friend (and a drink). I need space from my child. I want more time with my husband.”
As I walked back home down the Greenway, pushing an empty stroller in front of me, I was struck by how all-consuming those human moments are as parents when we’re IN them. Just last week, my toddler turned on me (as toddlers are programmed to do). Meltdowns and tantrums every 3.5 minutes, screaming and crying and the words, “I don’t want to!” over and over. My nerves were shot. I was losing patience. My preggo hormones were raging. I literally reached a point where I COULD NOT TAKE IT ANYMORE. I wrote to my Mommy Soul Tribe that day about the turning point when I lost my ish. I left my LO with her father and walked away from them. I walked far. I walked fast. And every step farther away felt like this giant weight lifting off my chest. With the accountability of my Soul Tribe, I forgave myself later that night for NEEDING space from my toddler and for taking it. I also forgave myself for leaning HARD on my husband that afternoon into evening. I clocked out and handed over the reins to him. I was so grateful for my partner that day.
So when I looked at this exhausted mama a little closer today and really SAW her and HEARD her: “We have zero time together as husband as wife,” I felt what she was feeling and my heart went out to her. She’s where I was just days ago. In the quiet dark spot—the space we’re ashamed to speak of—in between the brightness of mothering. I am her and she is me.
The hard bits won’t necessarily all be the same for all of us. And they won’t happen at the same time. And maybe sometimes we’ll smugly think, “Well my kid slept through the night at 6 weeks,” and a year later your kid will start biting other kids at school and guess what? WE ARE ALL THE SAME AND DIFFERENT. And there are smooth, easy days and weeks and times when the hard is HEAVY. So let’s all be in this together and always tell each other “You’re doing an amazing job. I feel the same way some days. This, too, shall pass,” and be grateful for the sunny days. Because we all know that when the dark days hit us over the head, it feels like they will stay forever, and then one morning you wake up more rested and your kid snuggles you and kisses your pregnant belly and tells daddy she loves him and sweetly asks for pancakes and just like that – that human moment in parenting time is over. And it’s whiskers on kittens again and you can just barely remember what was ever hard about it in the first place. (The parallels with childbirth are suddenly dawning on me . . . )
So, dear mama having a dark day – to you I say, “Just put pants on. This, too, shall pass. You’re doing an awesome job and I have 200% been there. Take whatever scrap of space you can when you need it and put yourself and your marriage first for a day, too. That’s okay. It’s important. IT MATTERS and can make all the difference on the bad days. And don’t forget to LEAN HARD on your partner. He can take it and he wants to see you happy.”
If you are wondering how to lean on and also prioritize your partner so you can have the relationship you signed up for, register for the next FREE Mommy Masterclass. The topic, by popular demand, is Staying Connected to Your Partner After Baby. We go live on March 28th and you don’t want to miss this soul tribe partay.