I sat in my car fighting the tears that wanted to stream down my face, slumped with exhaustion. It was another one of those days. As I drove off to do another errand Spotify started a song I didn’t know I needed. The words hit me deep. The song was called The Mother, by Brandi Carlile.
I breathed it in. The day had been long, it was only 3 pm but I had burned out. My daughter who is going on two years old in two short months is fighting nap times. Nap time is when I gather my energy for the rest of the day. It’s when I get out my computer and spew my feelings onto the screen. It’s when I clean up the mess of the morning and face the long afternoon until bedtime. It’s when I try to separate myself just a little, to make space for my own feelings and well being.
“Welcome to the end of being alone inside your mind
You’re tethered to another and you’re worried all the time”
“Without nap time how can I possibly continue?”, I thought to myself as she threw herself to the floor in frustrated exhaustion. She needed to sleep as much as I needed her to sleep. After a meeting, my husband came through the door and saw me burning through my patience. He sends me to Target for something that I can’t remember now.
“The first things that she took from me were selfishness and sleep
She broke a thousand heirlooms I was never meant to keep
She filled my life with color, canceled plans, and trashed my car
But none of that was ever who we are”
But none of that was ever who we are. But it felt like who I was in that moment. As I sat in that parking lot I played it on repeat while enjoying the solitude. Motherhood is all consuming at times. It feels like the more you give to your child the less you’ll have left of yourself. It’s not true but those feelings pull you so deep, there is times you can’t see the surface. I’m not even talking about postpartum depression, I’ve been through that. I’m talking about the every day.
The cleaning, the constant noise level, the tantrums, the power struggles, the loving, the tenderness, the sleep deprivation, the giving of yourself completely. I drive home listening to it again before I go back to daily grind. I powered through another long day with these words echoing in my mind.
“Outside of my windows are the mountains and the snow
I hold you while you’re sleeping and I wish that I could go
All my rowdy friends are out accomplishing their dreams
But I am the mother of Evangeline”
When I think about the next years of my life I do so with both anticipation and trepidation. I want more children, this is something I know deep within my soul. I also know that I’ve only recently found a balance to motherhood. That the things that make me feel balanced are not sustainable if I was pregnant or had a newborn. I love my dance classes and performing with my band.
You may think being in a band is possible while pregnant or while you have a small baby, but you would be wrong. I lost breath control around 6 months through my last pregnancy. A newborn isn’t conducive to late night jam sessions or shows. I look at my friends without children or with older children with envy.
“And they’ve still got their morning paper and their coffee and their time
And they still enjoy their evenings with the skeptics and the wine
Oh, but all the wonders I have seen, I will see a second time
From inside of the ages through your eyes”
But there are moments so beautiful I don’t want to ever let them go. In the quiet of 5 am, I hear her call my name and whimper. I don’t rush to her room right away. Maybe she will settle herself back into sleep. She doesn’t, so I quickly get to her bedside. I pick her up and lean her on my shoulder. She’s getting longer, too big in fact. Her feet fall past my waist even wrapped in my arms. It makes me miss whens he was tiny, so small I could hold her in just one arm.
“You are not an accident where no one thought it through
The world has stood against us, made us mean to fight for you
And when we chose your name we knew that you’d fight the power too
You’re nothing short of magical and beautiful to me”
I sat down in a chair as the early morning light peeks through the curtains leaving a glow on her face. She finally relaxes into me. She sighs deeply and so do I. I touch each little finger thinking how small and fragile she seems in this moment. She is a whirlwind of activity all day, a life sucking energy force. But right this minute I remember that she is everything I ever wanted.
Her hair is soft and lightly curls around her face. She trusts me completely to hold her as she sleeps. I’m doing something right. The world outside our home can be tempting and I will return to it, but it is also frightening and large and angry. Inside this room it’s warm and full of love. I’ll hold on to that feeling while I get through one more day. And I’ll listen to Brandi Carlile’s voice on repeat with a lump in my throat as I know that this season may seem long but one day my child won’t let me hold her like I do now.