I have been a mother now for very close to six years, and I have been writing about motherhood for a little over two years.
I write for many reasons. Too many to count actually. But one of the primary reasons that I write is to make sense out of this vocation of motherhood. Writing gives me space to quiet all of the chaos and focus on myself and who I am and what motherhood means to me.
I’ve noticed as of late, however, that a lot of my writings are about finding the joy in motherhood. Motherhood has so many moments of bright, unadulterated, pure brilliance, and I like to take those moments and mull them around in my brain a bit, relishing every moment of them, fleeting as they are.
That makes me happy.
But I’m also coming to another truth about motherhood, and this one is taking me a bit longer to fully embrace. Sometimes, motherhood is just hard.
Sometimes it is hard and there just is no sugar coating it. Sometimes you have three voices screaming for attention at the same moment. Some days you hear “why” more often than you hear yourself breathe. Some days the potty training doesn’t work and the nap times don’t work and your patience surely doesn’t work. Some days you just stand in the middle of your living room and let out a loud scream to release the tension, and then the three little people at your feet think it’s hysterical so they do the same. But more loudly and more persistently.
I’ve spent years immersed in days like these, and I’ve spent years trying to figure out what it is that I’m doing wrong that is causing them.
Where am I organizing my time wrong?
What missteps have I taken?
What did I say or do wrong that led to the meltdown?
What could I have done better?
And what I’m now realizing is that sometimes there is nothing I am doing wrong. Sometimes I could do everything absolutely and totally wonderfully, and the outcome would still be the same. Sometimes as much as I want to, I can’t control the world or my little people in it.
In a way this is a liberating idea. It gives me space for grace and forgiveness. It allows me to feel competent and confident even in the greatest of meltdowns. It lets me, rightfully so, off the hook a bit.
But in other ways, this is terrifying. If this messiness is motherhood, and there’s nothing I can do to sanitize it… well then this messiness is motherhood and there is nothing I can do to sanitize it.
I can’t ensure that there won’t be a total meltdown when I’m in the middle of an important phone call. I can’t ensure that I won’t be vomited all over right as we are about to leave the house. I can’t stop potty training accidents from happening in the middle of a crowded store.
I simply cannot control it.
And I’m sitting here with that wisdom, and I’m trying to soak it in. I’m trying to let it seep deep into my bones. And all I can do with it is laugh.
Because this is life with little people. It’s messy and it’s dirty and it’s trying and it’s loud. And it’s beautiful and it’s poignant and it’s fleeting and it’s glory.
It’s all of those things, all wrapped into one.
We might be able to gain a little bit of control over some aspects. We might learn to let some things slide. But really the most any of us can do is hold on tight and see where the journey will take us.
I hope mine takes frequent detours through beautiful places. I know it will. It already has. I hope yours does as well.
About Amanda Knapp
Amanda Knapp, M.A., is a writer and a stay at home mom to her three young daughters. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, crocheting, and making random odd things to make her home more beautiful. She writes to stay sane. Feel free to judge how well that’s working.