Coming upon my girls, and feeling every cell in my body sing that this is where I should be. This is why I am alive.
I won’t lie – sometimes parenting three little girls under five overwhelms me. I am classically INFP on the Meyers Briggs personality scale, and have a hard time juggling three such intense little people. I am physically and emotionally spent at the end of every single day, and when the nights are long and wakeful, and I do not feel like I have a single moment to recharge creatively… I start to lose it. I yell, I send kids to their room for small slights, I feed them cereal for three meals and hide in the bathroom (the only door with a lock in our house) while they eat. It isn’t the practicalities that overwhelm me – I can get them dressed, feed them, get them out of the house, manage them at restaurants, handle the inevitable public meltdowns, and get them home again safely. It isn’t having a lack of hands or skills that overwhelms me, it is the constant, unyielding need that I must fill. For someone who recharges by quiet, creative time, the chaos of juggling three (four when you consider I still have a marriage to maintain) people’s needs zaps me of every bit of momentum I have. There are days when I am dead in the water, and rapidly sinking.
Tom has a hard time understanding this, since in my “previous life” I was a very social person, happily working in an office, multitasking responsibilities and staff, involved in plays and activist groups, AND going to school full time. How three tiny people can be more exhausting than all of that is just foreign to him, and honestly it’s something I’ve struggled with. When I define myself, it isn’t someone who calls her husband when he is ten minutes late getting home because she is going to explode. It’s hard to feel like a confident, capable adult when I can barely keep my eyes open long enough to turn on Sesame Street at 8am.
This motherhood gig is draining in a way a job and social life never was, because every cell of my being is invested in getting this right. If I missed a deadline at work, I could make it up, or accept the consequences. When I let a friend down, I felt horrible, but I knew they were not scared for life. Giving myself this kind of permission as a mother is impossible.
There is nothing, nothing in the world I would rather be doing.
So, every night I pray for another chance tomorrow to get it right. To have the patience, the courage, the wisdom to lead these little people. I pray that these moments of joy can sustain me, and that my children know that behind every frazzled moment, every request for “just a minute”, there is a mother who just wants to be better for them. Who is learning how to do this, right along side them.
Also, a mother who probably should go read that description of INFP personality again, because hello, unrealistic standards and perfectionism much? For the record, I only asked my kids to be quiet 17 times while I wrote this, and they’ve only been shut in their room for 6 of the 20 minutes it took me to write this. And hey, a post before 10pm, go me.