Common parenting wisdom dictates that babies are very sensitive to transitions. Much is written about this in parenting books and websites, and much is asked on forums (“My baby is going crazy! Hellllpppp!”). Transitioning from playtime to sleep time. Adjusting to a new nap schedule. Falling asleep somewhere other than home. Handling a new sibling, or a new house, or a new tooth, or a new whatever. Babies are finicky little creatures of habit, and we, the all-knowing, older, wiser adults of the world, need to help them get through it.
But lately, I’ve been drowning in a giant ocean of transitions myself. Buying a house and selling a house. Living somewhere else until that house sells. Having to abandon the well-oiled machine that is my daily twin mom routine. Letting go of the way I do things, without all of my stuff, and my bed, and my kitchen, and the nursery and my neighbourhood. Losing sleep and also my mind over each day that passes without my house being sold. Getting sick and staying sick for days on end with little relief. Who said it was just babies who suck at handling change?
The irony in all this, of course, is that Madeleine and Reid are actually doing pretty well at rolling with the madness that is our life right now. They’re currently sleeping in a walk-in closet, but they’ve strayed very little from their usual sleep habits for the most part. They don’t have their highchairs for meals, and they’re eating Grandma’s meals instead of Mom’s (which, let’s be honest, is probably a good thing), and they don’t seem to mind it at all. The only thing that bothers them is the restrictions placed on where they can and cannot play (our temporary home is not very baby-proof!), but I can’t say I blame them. All in all, I’d say my kids could teach ME a few things about being adaptable.
We’ve faced many challenges over the past year-and-a-bit since the babies were born – more than I ever anticipated, although fewer than we probably should have given the nature of what happened to us. And one thing I learned during that time was how much more we could actually handle than I thought. But just as surprising to me has been realizing how debilitating the little things can be when you are a parent. When you are starting to crumble as a single human being, but then you also have to take care of two more.
It’s easy to talk about all the difficult things that come along with being a mum (and even easier when you have twins, since all of the other mums seem to automatically empathize!), but for the most part, I’ve never found any of it that bad. What is truly difficult though, and what I don’t hear often in books or sentimental online commercials about motherhood being the world’s most challenging job, is how hard it is to keep going when you cannot really ever take a break. When you are sick and need to lie in bed all day, but your kids are still waking up at six. When your life is feeling overwhelming and you want to hide under the covers, but Madeleine has a doctor’s appointment and you need to get your act together because her health is more important than your anxiety. When your bank account balance is dwindling, and your new home closes in a month and you need to stop and take a breath and maybe eat something or take a shower, but you have to take the kids out for the day to pass the time until bedtime, because spending the day hanging around somebody else’s home is driving you all a little bit batty.
This is the stuff that makes motherhood hard. Not the crying or the diapers or the tantrums or the constant neediness. It’s a lot of effort, of course, but there is much more difficult stuff out there! It’s frustrating sometimes to spend all your day with little ones when you wish you could have a real adult conversation, or a lunch break, or just some ‘non-baby’ time. It’s constant, full-on, under-appreciated work, but it’s also the most rewarding, the easiest job to get up for in the morning, the clearest sense that you are doing something really important and valuable with your time. You are raising humans, keeping them safe and showing them love and teaching them about the world and about trust and about security. I wouldn’t trade those responsibilities for anything.
But being a mother all of the time, without ever truly getting a break, even when you need one so badly, and having to figure out a way to keep going when you need to be mothered yourself? No weekends or holidays, no sick days or vacations? Motherhood may or may not be the world’s toughest job, but somedays, no matter how much you love it, it can certainly feel that way.