That’s Motherhood

The baby woke me minutes before the alarm went off this morning. The noise that escaped my lips was half exhaustion, half anger. I hadn’t gotten nearly enough sleep as the kids took turns keeping me up. I rarely get enough sleep. That’s motherhood, I guess.

I started to feed the baby and Z came in, announcing the dogs had pooped all over her playroom. I muttered a soft “dammit” and told the husband who’d let out his own string of expletives not to worry, I’d clean it up. He had to get ready for work and has a weak stomach when it comes to smells anyway.

The smell permeated the hall and I smothered a gag – it wasn’t the worst smell I’d ever smelled and there was a good chance it wouldn’t even be the worst of the day. Zoey walked past me, singing “dammit, dammit, dammit!” I closed my eyes briefly, admonishing myself for having said it aloud earlier and then asked her not to say that word as I scrubbed at the floor. That’s motherhood, I guess.

The next hour was spent making a grocery list, getting breakfast for everyone but myself, dressing two kids, chugging cold coffee, throwing on some concealer and lipstick so I didn’t look as dead as I felt, and struggling to shake the dark mood that was quickly settling heavily over me. When Z spilled apple juice all over the car and herself (including the brand new clothes she was wearing), I felt molten hot rage course through me, and I thought, “Sometimes, I hate motherhood.” She looked at me, sorry filling her sweet, blue eyes. “The lid wasn’t on very well, mom. I’m sorry.” Guilt and shame and love immediately washed away all of my ire.

Somehow I managed to get all of us in the car and on our way. The three of us sort of matched in our hob-knob assortment of stripes and strawberries, so I asked a woman working the desk at Z’s school to take a photo of us. She handed back my phone and I grimaced at the image of myself. I’m still twenty pounds heavier than I’d like to be and much of the time feel I look tired and old. Z asked to see it and squealed over how cute we looked. I promised myself that I’d show it off for her sake.

After I dropped her off, I stopped at the store, cursing myself for not thinking ahead, in a hurry before my doctor appointment. I hitched the diaper bag over my shoulder and the million pound car seat on my arm and rushed into the store, prepared for a quick trip in and out. A woman stopped me as I walked in.

“What a strong, beautiful mother!” She exclaimed.

I thanked her, but doubt must have been etched on my face because then she said, “Truly. Strong and beautiful.”

I wanted to stop and cry and hug her and tell her that she had no idea how much I needed to hear that, that it had been an awful, ordinary morning, that I spent most of my time tired and overwhelmed, that I doubted my abilities as a mother, that I worried my daughter would stop loving me because I couldn’t quit snapping at her, but I was in a rush. So instead, I smiled at her – a great, sincere smile, thanked her again, and walked into the store, feeling a little bit lighter than I had a few moments before.

And that’s motherhood, I guess.


Dear Mom

Dear Mom (and all the baby mommas and baby’s momma’s mommas),

Now that I’m on the other side, the Mom side, I see things differently. I see what you sacrificed and why you struggled. I see why you did the things you did. I get it now. And I owe you a thousand apologies, but for now I think I’ll start with these.

I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry for –

Not wanting to eat the food you made. Because now I know how much time and energy went into deciding what to cook and then cooking it. Yes, even into baking that Tombstone pizza and dealing with the mom guilt of making frozen pizza instead of a gourmet meal after a day of chasing after a million kids and maintaining a household.

Whining about having to clean my room. Or any room, really. Because you had already cleaned the kitchen, living room, laundry room, and attic. The least I could have done was pick up my 1,000 Barbies and Jenny Gymnast.

The tantrum I threw when I couldn’t decide what I wanted. Because you told me I could have something, and that gave me conflicting emotions. Cue tantrum.

The tantrum I threw when I was hangry. Because if I’d just eaten the food you made, I wouldn’t be hangry.

The tantrum I threw when…you know what? I’m sorry for all of the tantrums I threw. Because tantrums are like road kill; they’re gross and embarrassing and everyone has to stare at them no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

The sleepless nights. Because I wasn’t tired, or I was overtired, or I missed you, or I wanted to eat, or I was afraid. Because while I was sleeping for the rest of whenever I was tired, you were doing all of the things.

The early mornings. Who needs alarm clocks? Hello, it’s me! Your 4a.m. wake up call.

Inflicting physical pain on you. Biting, hitting, kicking…Because pregnancy and labor weren’t enough. Obvi.

Arguing about everything. I already see this happening and my baby isn’t even talking yet. How does a 13-month old even know how to argue? No, you can’t eat the Styrofoam off of the garage floor because you might choke and die. Sorry for keeping you alive and ruining your life.

Thinking I was right. I wasn’t.

Forgetting to say thanks.
For everything. Seriously. All. The. Things.

Blaming you. After all, you didn’t neglect to do my science project until the night before it was due. You didn’t decide to date the boy who broke my heart. You didn’t skip my curfew. You didn’t make my friend betray me.

Making you worry. Especially when I could have prevented it.

Growing up. Because babies are cute and cuddly, and teenagers can be assholes.

Not appreciating you.
Thank you for loving me, teaching me, caring for me. But mostly, thank you for teaching me how to be a mom.

Not getting “it.” I get it now. Promise.

And when the apology itself isn’t enough, just remember that payback’s a bitch and I have at least 35 or so more years of it.

Love always,
Your Daughter

NOTE: Amanda Fullilove and I wrote this piece together last year. It originally ran on Curisome (when that was still a thing). I decided to re-post in honor of Mother’s Day and because I miss Amanda (and her writing – COME BACK ONE DAY!).

My Daughter is Not My Best Friend

The more my daughter becomes a person and I see her as a human to interact with instead of just a baby to snuggle and feed, the more terrified I grow about this person I have to keep – a person who has thoughts and opinions all her own, a person I can’t trick into helping me clean up with songs and hand-clapping, a person who will be able to tell me exactly what she does and definitely does not want. What if we don’t get along? What if she hates me? What if I ruin her life? It’s bound to happen since I will absolutely be a regular mom (and not a cool mom).

I’ve listened to my students talk about their mothers – mothers who hang out with them, mothers who don’t give them rules or curfews, mothers who they talk to as though they’re peers (“Shut up! Don’t be a bitch!”), mothers who are cool, mothers who are their best friends. I’ve seen mothers who are their daughter’s friends and I’m not that mom.

It seems a bit presumptuous to say, since my daughter isn’t even two, but I feel confident saying that she is not, nor will she ever be, my best friend.

I have a best friend. I text, call, snap, and Facetime her constantly. I visit her whenever I’m able. I discuss intimate details about my marriage with her. I whine about stupid things like my bald spot and dry skin. I share my insecurities and fears. I tell her disgusting details about myself. I ask her for advice. I call her crying. I obsessively chatter about books and TV shows with her . I am vulnerable with her in more ways than I care to admit to anyone but her. I tell her things I don’t even tell my husband and I tell my husband nearly everything.

I can do this because she and I – we’re the same. We’ve experienced many of the same things – marriage, teaching, motherhood, fangirl life. And we’ve done it together. We’ve bolstered each other during difficult times. We’ve gotten drunk on multiple bottles of champagne and recorded ourselves giving advice to our future YouTube followers. We’ve kept each other’s secrets. We’ve pushed each other to succeed and celebrated each other’s victories.


I always want to be close with Zoey. I hope she and I have the kind of relationship I have with my own mom. I hope we always trust and respect one another. I hope that she comes to me when she needs advice, when she’s afraid, when she’s hurt. I hope she is confident enough in our relationship that she knows she can share things with me, that we can be honest with one another, that she knows I’ll always love and support her. But I have no intention of asking her advice about how to talk to her dad when we fight or debating with her whether or not the sex thing I read about will really make his head spin faster than Linda Blair’s.

Because she’s not my friend, she’s my daughter.

I grew her. I birthed her. I fed her. I love her more than I love myself. In a lot of ways, although she is completely her own person, she is also an extension of me. I feel all of the things she does in all of the clichéd ways mother do. She belongs to me in a way that no one else can – not a husband or a parent or even a best friend.

I was writing when she started crying, not twenty minutes after I laid her down. It was the first moment I’d had to sit and do something for myself all day so I immediately thought, “You have to be kidding me. Go back to sleep, kid! I just want five minutes for me.” When she didn’t stop crying, I sighed, slightly annoyed, but pushed open her door and picked her up out of her crib. We sat on the glider, her face on my chest, mine in her hair, both of us quiet for a minute. Then she pulled back and looked at me. “Hi, Momma! Nose!” She touched my nose, then hers. I laughed.

“Song,” she demanded. I started to sing. She rejected that song and then the next four with a quick “no” and a vigorous shake of her head, but I kept singing until my magical voice lulled her back to sleep. I could have put her down then, but I kept rocking and singing a love song just for her.

The truth is even when she’s grown and has daughters of her own, even when she’s old enough to get it, I may still decide not to share all of my secrets or doubts or thoughts with her. But we will always share this moment – the two of us rocking together and singing our love song.


Because she’s not my best friend, she’s my daughter.

NOTE: A version of this piece ran on Ripped Jeans and Bifocals.