"I want to tell you something." My husband says, followed by a really long pause.
Wow, this could be anything, my mind says. An unbearably long pause after a phrase like that is bad for a natural pessimist. Illness. Job problems. Marriage issues. Money problems. Cancer, it's always cancer in my mind.
But thankfully it isn't.
"Don't take it personally when the kids make demands you can't meet." He continues. "I watched you go from excited to pick up the kids after they spent four nights with grandparents to deflated and completely defeated within ten minutes of getting them in the car. It's not fair to you. They're kids and they're demanding. It's not an indictment on your ability as a mother."
He knows me too well. Good talk, husband. Good man.
I do quickly feel defeated when I don't anticipate every need, when I feel woefully inadequate compared to other mothers, to other wives, to other women-- in real life and otherwise. I set impossible standards and then when I fail to meet them, I let everything slide. I stamp it with a big, "What's the point?" and try to act like it doesn't bother me as much as it does. I'm fooling no one.
My house is a wreck right now. Why? Mostly because it doesn't look the way I want it to, even when it is moderately clean. And cleaning a house filled with kids' toys and art work and my own hoarded craft supplies and projects and books mostly feels Sisyphean, even on the best of days.
So where do I go from here? I'm not really sure. I've never done this before. Just like what I said to myself on those unbearably long, mostly sleepless nights when our little lady was a screaming, angry baby. And on those nights when she peacefully fell asleep in my arms and it was me and her and some lullabies in a creaky rocking chair. "This moment will only happen once." Good or bad, I only get this day, this moment with these souls that are my family ONE TIME.
You become a mother and the job changes almost daily, until when, forever? These little kids of mine keep growing and changing and, luckily, I get to grow and change along with them.