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How Motherhood Goes

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I wake up in the morning, either to my alarm clock chiming while it's still dark if I've decided to attempt to get some work done or to my three year old's OK-To-Wake clock being pressed into my face at exactly 7:01 a.m. (it's set for 7) accompanied by shouts: "My clock turned green, mommy! Time for breakfast! Get up, mommy!" I am always a bit shaken being woken up abruptly -- ideally I like to have a minute to collect myself, transition wholly and peacefully from dream world to real world. But then I open my eyes and see her sweet round face with sleepy eyes, tangled golden curls, the littleness of her in her Frozen nightgown and I smile, pulling her up next to me.

That's just how motherhood goes.

The breakfast hustle is just that... a hustle. The one year old is up by now, adorably snuggly but ferocious and unforgiving in her pursuit of dry Cheerios and a cup of milk. My husband and I tag team it, Cheerios being emptied onto the highchair trey, milk being poured into sippy cups, waffles being toasted, fruit being chopped into less-than-choking-hazard size. It's a whirlwind full of chatter and innocent, yet relentless, requests until both girls have a meal in front of them and then there are three minutes of glorious silence as I grab a protein bar and coffee and sit down at the table. About a minute later I'm called on to clean up drips, "wipe off my stickies please, mommy!", clear plates, refill milks. I continue to drink my coffee well into the morning (I don't play that warm it up in the microwave all-day game, I just start with it iced. Easier that way!). I watch the girls as they pull out toys and begin the important work of a child: playtime. I silently say thanks for their bellies full of food and bodies full of energy and can't help but smile at them: two sisters, playing together. I am the luckiest.

That's just how motherhood goes.

The baby (H) goes down for her morning nap and I put on a show for her big sister (C) as I settle in on the chair next to her and open my laptop to work. The minutes allotted to accomplish what feels like a never-ending list of tasks (emails, writing, pitching, research) fly by as if we're on fast forward and before I know it, it's almost time for H to wake up and C has had an hour and a half of television. She's happily singing the Doc McStuffins theme song, but I'm feeling the familiar sting of mom guilt: Does she watch too much TV? Am I paying enough attention to her? Is she affected by the fact that I work at home? We get Hadley up together and a bit later C announces what she wants to be when she grows up: "A mommy and a doctor!" I'm encouraged -- as a mom, and as a woman in general -- by her belief in her limitless potential. Maybe I'm not scarring her for life, I think to myself.

That's just how motherhood goes.

We get out in the afternoon, either to a play date, an activity, the bookstore, the playground, to run errands, etc., partly for the kids so they have something fun to do and partly (ok, mostly!) for me so I don't go completely nuts without a change of scenery and adult interaction. Some days this goes pretty smoothly -- maybe just an emergency potty run and spilled drink -- and some days it feels as though my two children have turned into six and I'm chasing and corralling and consoling. I bite my lip hard while the biggest climbs on tall playground contraptions challenging her limits and try to quell my inner control freak as the littlest "helps" me put groceries into a cart. I can spot fellow moms from a mile away and we eagerly strike up conversation: "How old? Two brothers, how sweet! Oh, my daughter goes to school there too!" We're like two lonely singles engaging in small-talk before a date. And mind you, I never really dated... so I am rusty.

That's just how motherhood goes.

The time right before dinner is ridiculous. Everyone is fragile. Everyone is hungry. Sometimes I take a work call while sweating and muting/un-muting like a mad woman. I feel on the brink of losing my mind. Some days I look at it as a challenge: I meet C's repeated questions with calm answers and H's shrieks with yogurt drops. I pull out pots and pans and spoons and they perform like they're being paid. I put a hot, healthy meal on the table. Other days I loudly sing "la la la laaaa!" while texting my husband to pick up Chick-Fil-A.

That's just how motherhood goes.

Bath and bedtime roll around and although by that time I'm usually counting down the minutes and mopping up water from the bathroom floor, once the girls are in bed we sneak back into their rooms to look at them, marveling at the fact that we created these two tiny, needy, ornery, smart, fantastic little humans. We scroll through pictures of them throughout the last few years and talk about how, sure, we are biased but they are certainly and without question the two most beautiful little girls on the face of the planet. And then I get to work, usually too late into the night, and wonder which alarm will wake me first the next morning: my phone or my preschooler.


Listen, mommas, I know you go back and forth each day: I am supermom; I am the worst. I am doing it all; I am doing none of it right. I have remarkable patience worthy of an award; I am about to break. I know you lay your head down on the pillow and, as great or as hard as the day was, question whether you could have handled a situation better, fed them more nutritious meals, spent more time with them, or spoiled them a bit less. But I also know that, deep down, you love your children with an intensity that just really, truly can't be described. You did the best you could today, and tomorrow you will do the same. You are the best momma to them, for them. I hope you sleep well tonight knowing that. And you're going to need to get some sleep because...

That's just how motherhood goes.

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