Today was a difficult day; tomorrow will be better. My mom taught me this when I was a child.
When I was younger, I never was aware of my mother’s vulnerability. I suppose most young children view their parents as some sort of superheroes who never have bad days. Until I got older, I didn’t really pay that much attention to my mom. Don’t get me wrong–she was and still is an incredible mother–but as I grew more mature, I started to notice cracks in the superhero persona.
My mom had been a successful editor before she had me, and she chose to give up her career to be a stay-at-home mom. I know she feels she made the right decision, but there were no doubt days that she thought “what if?”.
I never understood the way she felt as a mom: the inexplicable love a mother has for her child, but also the hardships that come along with it.
Today was a difficult day for me. My husband, daughter, and I spent the past two days trapped in the house, held prisoner by a rampant G.I. bug. When we finally recovered, I had to spend the day cleaning up the aftermath, but my daughter wouldn’t sleep and my husband was preoccupied all day. Amidst the never-ending piles of laundry and dishes, I tried to mentally plan how we would pay the extra bills that are hitting us this month since my car needs new brakes.
I was cleaning, and planning, and scheduling like a mad woman, and it just hit me. This is not how I imagined my life. The work, the exhaustion, the bills.
At the beginning of my journey of married life and motherhood, I expected things to be hard sometimes. Yet I still also imagined a picture-perfect, Leave it to Beaver kind of idealistic life. But that is not how life is.
Today, I felt the depths of sorrow.
I was overwhelmed, and I did something I rarely do. I cried, and my daughter saw me.
I felt terrible that I was letting my child see me in such a vulnerable state. I was angry with myself for not being able to bottle my stress. I thought, I am not enough. I thought, my child deserves a better mother, my husband a better wife.
When I was younger, I pictured myself at this age doing something completely different with my life. I was in school for theater before I had my daughter, and I was doing well. I had landed a contract with an incredible acting agency, and my life was panning out the way I had always dreamed.
When I had my daughter, my dream changed. But even though I had this new life direction, I felt I had lost a piece of myself. And as the days pass, sometimes it feels that I lose more of myself. Because of that, I feel like a failure.
I haven’t been a mom very long, but from what I understand, many, if not all, of us feel this way at some point. We spend so much time taking care of others–truly investing in the survival and well-being of another human being–and it can be taxing. It is a big responsibility. I think that’s why I have days when I feel like I can’t live up to the person I expect myself to be.
I have this image in my head of who I would like to be as a mom.
She’s pretty great. She balances all of her responsibilities seamlessly, she finds the positive in every negative situation, and she never loses her cool, even when her toddler dumps her juice cup on the white carpet for the third time.
Friends, I am not that girl. Today I felt I had failed myself. The hard thing is that I don’t have a solution to offer. I can’t fix things with hallmark phrases carefully typed out across pictures of serene backgrounds on Pinterest. But I do feel solace in knowing that I am not the only mother who has had a bad day.
I love my child and husband more than anything in the world, and I truly would not change my life. It’s not what I expected, but there is beauty in it. Life is hard sometimes. Sometimes it beats us down. But with every valley, there is a peak ahead.
And I will keep saying to myself the words my mother taught me: “Today is a difficult day; tomorrow will be better.”