Sinking ships

This week, in honor of Mother’s Day, I’ve been working on a piece about my experience with motherhood.  The joys and challenges that so many of us face.  But for some reason, the words weren’t coming together.  It wasn’t sitting right with me.  I find that when I’m struggling trying to write something, it’s usually because there’s something off.  Something that I’m either not sharing, or not being as honest about as I could be.

When I first started Grace in the Crumbs I made a promise to myself to always share from a place of genuine authenticity.  To be as transparent as possible.  So in an effort to be true to my story, here’s where I’m really at with motherhood.

I’m sinking.

I know that sounds dramatic, but at times, it can feel that way.   Trying to raise four little ones is so much harder than I ever anticipated.  I keep thinking it’s going to get easier.  That somehow the load will lighten.  However, it feels the opposite.  In fact, without a doubt, this has been my hardest year as a mother yet.  Eight years in, and this is my hardest.

What I’m struggling with though, what’s really on my mind, is that when I look around; everyone else’s boat seems to be floating, while mine is sinking.

Everyone’s boat is floating, while mine is sinking.

I have two theories on this.

One, there are a lot of women who are just that good at this whole motherhood thing.  They are killing it.  They shower daily (and wear real clothes), remember picture day, teacher appreciation day (and all the other days too!), smile at school pick-up, and have their kids participating in all the right after school activities.  They are honestly just that good at managing all of it.  I do believe there are some women out there who are naturally made for this.  I am continually amazed and in awe of them.

Then there’s my second theory.  Everyone else is struggling too, they’re just better at covering it up.  But deep down, their boat is sinking too.

As for me, I’m too tired to try so hard anymore.  I don’t have the energy to cover it up, and act like I have a clue as to what I’m doing.  I’ve been trying to get my act together for eight years, and honestly, I’m exhausted, so I think my time has come to jump ship.  I’m going back to the basics…. loving my kids and that’s about it.  The rest, well it will all have to wait.

I wanted to share this today because I have a feeling there are a lot of other women out there that feel the same.  I see it in the eyes of new friends I’m making here in Connecticut and I can hear it in the voices of my old friends back home in Chicago.  I think we’re all struggling, in some way or another, to stay afloat.  Whether it’s trying to balance a career and motherhood, supporting a spouse, taking care of aging parents, or just simply the everyday struggle of meeting our children’s ever changing needs.  The feeling is universal.  We’re all struggling in some way to keep our head above water.

One of my closest friends back home in Chicago is an amazing mother.  We met when we were just starting out raising our two oldest children.  We’d get together in the mornings for coffee, while our little ones played, and talk about everything from husbands to kids.  But more often than not, the topic we always seemed to circle back to was how we were “failing”.  We’d list all of our shortcomings.  How we never got those thank you notes out, returned phone calls to family members, or forgot to take our kids to the dentist for a year.   We’d laugh, nod our heads in agreement, eat another scone, and say “me too”.  And after all the list making was done, with all the ways in which we had somehow disappointed ourselves, our children or our family, I’d laugh and say, “maybe one day I’ll get my act together”.

“Maybe one day I’ll get my act together.”

It turns out after eight years, this is as “together” as my act is getting.  There is no “one day”. This is it.  I probably won’t ever send out thank you notes again, or return phone calls in a timely manner, or remember to schedule dentist appointments.  But what I will do, is stop making excuses for it.  Or even better yet, believing I ever needed to.  That chapter of my journey is done.   My act, as disheveled as it may be, is as together as it’s ever getting.

Motherhood is hard.  For all of us.  One baby, two, three, it doesn’t matter.  It’s hard.  We are all in some type of sinking boat, struggling to stay afloat.  That part I can’t help you with.  I’m right there with you as it’s going down.  But what I think we can all help each other with, is to stop apologizing for our sinking ships.  To stop believing that somehow we ever had control over any of this.

I don’t think as mothers we’re struggling because we’re not great at this.  I think we’re struggling, because somehow we think we should be doing it better.  That somehow someone else is doing it better.  That we could do it better.

As for me, I’m ready to let that struggle be over.  This is as good as I’m ever going to be at this.  Motherhood is hard enough without the extra pressure of having to do it “well”.

Last night Frankie woke in the middle of the night (which he rarely does).  I embraced the rare chance to sit and hold my youngest baby, who during the day never seems to stop moving.  As I held him close and felt his warm breath against my skin, I was reminded that this is all they ever needed.  Just us, showing up, exactly as we are.  Flawed, sinking, struggling.  It doesn’t matter.  They just need us.  And for today, that’s good enough for me.

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  • Loving your blog Katie. It’s definitely relatable. One thing that keeps coming to mind as I read this piece was how a few months ago a friend said something to me amidst a larger group at a girls night. She said, you seem like a different person – or a happier person since you started working. And while my gig is far from full time – or even part time – it really stayed with me. Did I really exude a different aura while working than I did when I was home and parenting? I definitely concentrate on my failings as a mother and worry over what I’m doing wrong or what I’m not doing right with regards to the kids – but I can say that having my own personal agenda and identity outside of ‘Mom’ has been super helpful and a healthy distraction from feeling the constant isolation and daily grind of motherhood. Interesting conversation and certainly honest and brave – thanks for sharing. ❤️

    • I love this, Lara. And more importantly love that you have found a passion that you can pursue alongside motherhood. That is such a hard balance to find, and I am so happy to hear that it’s going well for you. Who would have thought that the best thing to happen to our roles as mothers, would be a break from our roles as mothers 😉 Thank you for sharing this, and your experience with finding another outlet. How has it been either years since this all began for us? So glad to share this journey with you. xoxo