Some days, you just have to admit it. Your patience for motherhood has limits.
The day’s been long and you’re in desperate need of some quiet time alone.
Night falls. The kids’ bedtimes near.
As each minute passes, it becomes more and more clear – you’re not supermom, you’re human.
Yes, a lot of days you’re not anything close to supermom, you’re just mom.
And some of those days when you’re just mom? You’re not even sure you’re equipped to be mom anymore.
You just want to be human…
When it’s 6:58 p.m. and your toddler begs to read a whole stack of books instead of the standard two.
When it’s 7:15 p.m. and she wants to say goodnight, face-to-face, to everyone in the entire household instead of just you. It’s sweet and endearing, and you love this routine dearly and you know you’ll always remember it with fondness, but you are oh. so. tired.
When it’s 7:34 p.m., you hear kids playing outside. Your super extroverted middle one is tempted to join them and start a brand new day of play at 7:34 p.m. You sigh a sigh of relief when she comes back in and decides to roll herself in her furry blanket instead.
When it’s 8:02 p.m. and that middle one says, “I want to stay down here tonight and play iPad instead of having quiet time in my room.”
When it’s 8:20 p.m. and the two school-aged kids are humming some Mozart tune “do do do do do do do do do” in harmony on the couch. It’s hard to complain a second about two kids humming Mozart, but hey, it’s still noise at this point, which makes you remember how desperate you are for complete and utter silence.
When it’s 8:23 p.m., the NBA playoffs are on, and the oldest says for the 20th night in a row that he wants to stay up until this game is done. And you remember how you agreed to that one week of staying up late, and now it’s turned into three weeks, but you can’t quite pull him away from that passion dad’s happy to have him pursue.
When it’s 8:25 p.m. and they’re still humming “do do do do do” in tandem, only this time one’s batting the other “Stop! Stop!” while they argue about how to best get more points on a video game.
When it’s 8:28 p.m. and there’s no sign either of those kids are tired. Did I mention, you have no idea how you’re going to get them to transition to bed anytime soon? Did I mention, it’s still bright as day outside?
When it’s 8:29 p.m. and the oldest teases the middle – “It’s 8:29! It’s almost time for you to go to bed! Ha! Ha!”
When it’s 8:30 p.m. and the oldest grabs the iPad from the middle – “Give it to me. You have to go to bed now!”
When it’s 8:36 p.m. and the middle decides now’s the time for her to brush her teeth the most thoroughly she’s ever brushed them before. In fact, she inquires as to why she doesn’t have white strips. For goodness sakes, because every just turned 9-year-old needs white strips?!
When it’s 8:37 p.m. and you’re already hiding away in your bedroom because you’re long done being supermom for today. You’re just waiting, patiently waiting for this tooth brushing and bedtime preparing to be complete.
When it’s 8:38 p.m., she calls you and says she’s ready. Glorious day, oh glorious day, she’s ready for bed. But as you walk towards her bedroom, she says “Oh, can you braid my hair so it can be curly tomorrow? So you braid her hair. And while you’re braiding you look in the mirror at that 9-year-old and then at yourself, and you realize you look WAY more tired then she does. You yawn. You bind up that braid and head to the bedroom for tuck in. But oh ya, she has to get her pajamas on. So she dilly dallies around a while until you kick up her pajama shirt from the ground and remind her to put it on. Yes, oh yes, it’s finally time for bed. But as she gets in, she remembers “My furry blanket is downstairs.” She asks you to go get it, but you politely decline – “You go get it if you want it.” So you wait and you get all the covers pretty and ready in the minute it takes her to go down and back up to her room. Finally. She’s all tucked in. And then, of course then, she says “Oh, you forgot to get me a glass of water.” So you walk to the bathroom, get a glass of water, and bring it to your sweet one. She mentions, just in case you’ll fall for it, that the water’s not cold enough. “Oh well, drink it anyway,” you say. You give her sweet kisses and hugs, and you’re not really sure why, but she’s hissing like a snake “sss, sss, sss, sss, sss, sss” the whole time you’re kissing and hugging her goodnight. And then she starts laughing and singing some song. You realize for the millionth time on this parenting journey that she’s far more awake and alert than you are, even at bedtime.
When it’s 8:45 p.m., you finally get back to that safe place, that quiet place – your bed. You just sit there for a while and unwind. You made it. You made it. You take a deep breath. You look out the window. There are probably only a few minutes of daylight left, but hey, you made it to see the remaining few.
When it’s 8:52 p.m., you hear her humming in her bedroom. You can’t pick up the tune, but it’s sweet and there’s a part of you that wants to go back and just lie down with her and let her hum the two of you to sleep. But you just keep staring out that window. You stare. Because you’re exhausted. And it dawns on you – she wouldn’t hum like that unless she was happy. So the mama guilt you’ve carried the past hour and a half for needing quiet time alone drifts away, well, at least a little.
When it’s 8:54 p.m., you realize the oldest is still downstairs watching that NBA playoff game. So you decide you need to go downstairs to verify the situation, see how much time there’s left in tonight’s prime time game.
When it’s 8:57 p.m., you “wake up” to realize you just zoned out for three. whole. minutes.
When it’s 8:59 p.m., you check on that NBA game to discover 5 minutes 50 seconds remain, which means it’s going to last another 30-45 minutes in NBA time with all those time outs and commercial breaks.
So you decide that it’s 9:00 p.m. You’ve had a long day. You’ve given everything of yourself as a woman, you’ve given everything of yourself as a mom. It’s time for you.
So you forget about that NBA game, you forget about the third bedtime that’s still to come, and you hop in a hot shower.
Because you’re done, done being a mom, done being responsible. Just done.
When it’s 9:27 p.m. and you get out of the shower, it dawns on you. Man, you really needed that shower. 27 minutes? Really? Okay?!
When it’s 9:28 p.m., you go downstairs to check on your oldest who’s still watching that NBA playoff game. And it’s then that he informs you – there weren’t 5 minutes 50 seconds left of the game, there were 5 minutes 50 seconds remaining in the first period! He tries to talk you into an even later bedtime – “I’m going to watch it until 10:00, 11:00!” But it doesn’t work.
When it’s 9:34 p.m., you finally get that oldest one to his bedroom. He makes one last basket in the mini hoop attached to his bedroom door. You pick up random things covering his bed and do whatever it takes to get them out of the way, all the while sort of arguing with your son, trying to persuade him to put pajamas on. He says “they’re just clothes, it doesn’t matter.” And you realize as much as you’d like him to wear pajamas, it really doesn’t matter. So you kiss him and hug him. He tells you he loves you and you tell him right back.
It’s 9:41 p.m. by the time you get back to that living room, into the quiet adult space you’ve been seeking for nearly three hours now.
You break out that box of Lemonheads your middle one couldn’t eat because of orthodontia. And as you lie on the couch with your legs up and grandma’s afghan wrapped around you, you pop Lemonheads one by one. They remind you of childhood, when life was simpler, easier to navigate.
In all your Lemonhead loveliness, you resolve. I’m going to cut myself short of sleep by an hour or two just to get some quiet time in, and then tomorrow, I’m going to do this all over again. It’s exhausting, but it is glorious. You resolve. Tomorrow, I’m going to love these kids the way I’d want to be loved if I was a kid all over again.
So you do.
The clock resets.
And you begin, again – as supermom, as mom, as woman, as human.
*This post is part of a month-long series titled Motherhood Unraveled. To read more from this series, click here and read to the bottom where all the posts are listed and linked!