Identity, motherhood

Balance the Equation

I think I know why mothers put themselves last. The one thing they can unequivocally control, with no x-factors or unknown variables, is themselves. In a world of crushing responsibility and swirling chaos – with them at its center – it is easier to remove oneself from the equation than adjust other unwieldy elements to make room for themselves.

When my now six year-old was a SCREECHING toddler-preschooler (and yes, it was in all caps and a continual hybrid of those two phases), many freak shows occurred in the tinny tube of a well-sealed minivan. When we had no choice but to hurtle through the tunnel of terror, my husband would often turn up the volume of the music. With all the children, we’ve always joked that music calms the savage beast, but if that didn’t work, I believe his secondary goal was to at least drown out some of the noise with more pleasant ones. But music – no matter how soothing it was – was just another layer of auditory assault on top of her banshee screams and the increasingly agitated protests of her sisters, who had a front row seat in the fallout zone. At some point, all the windows would be shooshed open, adding full-blast high-velocity wind to the affront. With something in my head about to twist in upon itself and either roll out my ears or burst out my forehead, I would lean forward and snap off the radio. Which inevitably would anger my already wound-tight husband at the wheel. I think his reasoning was to have some say in the cacophony, a pleasant personal addition to counteract all the negative auditory input over which we had no control. Mine was: the one thing I have control over and can remove from the untenable equation needs to be gone before I go out of my ever-living mind.

And that is much how I’ve operated these last several years. In the midst of pick-ups and drop-offs, errands to run and food to buy, kids who don’t nap and others who stay up too late – it was easier not to dream. It was easier to not start a project than be interrupted and watch it languish in the corner for months, years. It was easier to not even entertain the thought than watch it drift away on a sea of to-dos on scraps of paper.

It was certainly easier than fighting.

The amount of fighting it takes for modern mothers to get validation not awash in guilt and judgement is ridiculous. Unconscionable. Borderline criminal.

I’ve been trying to leave that combative quality out of my more recent mathematics. For I feel it just feeds into the idea that I’m doing something abnormal.

I want feeding my true authentic self to be as natural as the air I breathe, we all breathe.

Hopefully not as it’s whooshing past us in an attempt to drown out one (or more) of our screaming offspring.


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