I've Had It
"I think Mom's just about had it," Matthew says.
"Everything. Her life."
This is semiplausible. Their mother can be brusque and short-tempered, she carries about her an almost constant air of incipient exasperation, but she's always seemed, to Peter, to have "had it" not with her life but her endless particulars: her sons' domestic lassitude, the dishonest and incompetent mailman, taxes, governments, all her friends, the price of just about everything.
- from "By Nightfall", a novel by Michael Cunningham.
Sound familiar? Does to me.
Sometimes the sheer relentlessness of the little things add up so profoundly that I find myself reacting as a mother nothing like the type of mother - or even woman - that I aspire to be.
Between work and children and keeping house and cooking and friends and money and all those things that create a to do list a mile long and cause me to have fretful sleeps in case I've missed something or the pressure is on to deliver something yesterday, thank you very much, not tomorrow, it's hard to remain that patient, calm and loving mother I want very much to be.
Don't get me wrong. This isn't a post about mother guilt, because I do think I've done the best as I can by my kids, but more about that feeling. You know, like from the quote above. I know it so well that if I call a friend (or my mother) I know in an instant if they've 'had it'.
And, most of the women I know are in constant denial about it. "I'm fine." we say when the rest of the entire household is walking on eggshells because clearly your body is saying one thing while your words say another.
And we've got our own 'ways' when we've had it. And most of it is passive aggressive so that nobody can turn around and say anything and if they do it's "what on earth are you talking about" and finally we've got a reason to be angry - we were falsely accused.
Something in that piece of writing made me pause. Take a breath. Reflect. Really, when was the last time I played a game of cards with one of the kids, or gave them my total, undivided attention while they told me about something that happened at school without, in my mind, planning dinner or thinking of the trillion other things that must be done?
Where was the mother that had all the time in the world for them like when they were young?
I stood outside myself and thought, really, do I want to be that mother?
The one that's had it. All. The. Time.
So, I've recommitted to being present. Of showing up mind, body and soul for my kids. Every day. Not all day, everyday. And I've recommitted to enjoying motherhood again. My kids are not a chore. They're my heart and soul. My very breath.
I will not be the mother that they look back on and think of as a woman who had had it.
How about you?