Alright. Gird yourselves; this is a non-crossfit post.
This here blog started a few years ago when my youngest, who is now 9 years old, was but a wee babe. I wrote several times a week about the intersections (collisions) between being a mother and being an academic. In fact, this blog used to be titled “Academom.” No one could pronounce it.
I mostly wrote about how being a mom was hard. Super hard. Changing diapers, potty-training, house-cleaning and having babies who wouldn’t stop screaming. Getting kicked out of stores because my baby wouldn’t stop screaming. Mediating toddler fights and tantrums. Nursing in public. Running a Girl Scout troop for a bunch of 1st graders. Listening to “Heart and Soul” on the piano over and over. Etc.
About two years ago, however, I realized that my motherhood had shifted completely. There were no more babies and no more toddlers. No more diapers. Shit, there was no more having to make any meals if I didn’t want to; these small people that had taken the place of the babies — and these small people could pretty much work the microwave and reach the cabinets to get their own cereal bowl and they could wipe their own butts and entertain themselves for hours watching TV and playing games on the internet and reading books and playing with their friends.
I still was a necessary person to them: they required rides and clean laundry and sometimes gentle and not-so-gentle reminders about bathing and teeth-brushing. But I could sit for 5 hours writing or grading papers and they would be outside playing hockey or at the mall with friends and I would be all, “Holy crap. I can be a person again!” For the past couple of years, I’ve reveled in this newfound, low-volume mothering.
Yeah. All that loveliness is kind of crashing down around me right now. I said to a colleague, “I miss having toddlers. THEY’RE SO MUCH EASIER.” I can’t imagine ever actually thinking that. But these small people in my house are now starting to have big people problems. The damn mothering honeymoon of late elementary school children is over.
The larger challenge for me, though, is that my inclination is to write about these problems. I write about stuff to work things out in my head. To solve problems. To get feedback and advice from other people. I make stuff public. But these problems are not really just mine anymore. I don’t get to air other people’s dirty laundry.
So, if you’ve got a baby or a toddler, and you think mothering is hard. Things do get better. For a while. But then they get hard again.