When I used to daydream about becoming a mother, I wasn’t completely naive. I knew there was more to it than the highly-romantic Similac commercials made it out to be. After all, I had a mother myself, and although she made the job look like just about the Best Thing Going, I knew it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I knew it could be trying. I knew it could even be, at times, A Challenge.
When I got pregnant with my first child, I read articles that made motherhood sound like the ultimate self-help experience. Once you had children, the experts promised, you would hold yourself to a higher standard. You would want to model for your children the very best example, and therefore you would draw upon untapped levels of motherly goodness that you didn’t even know you had.
I have since learned the truth.
Motherhood is a Formal Enquiry, not “a challenge”. It is an Interrogation. Motherhood grabs you by the neck, slings you into a hard metal chair, angles a white hot light in your face and demands an accounting. It cross-examines you until you are no longer sure of who you are and can give no reasonable explanation for just what, exactly, you thought you were doing.
Did you think you were patient? What about the time you had to explain the concept of fractions to your fifth-grader for the eight-hundred and twenty-third time in three days? Thought you were pretty smart? Wait until you try to BS your way out of a moral dilemma and your teen calls your bluff. Think you’re Determined? Pit yourself against a 3 year old who decides overnight that elastic is Very, Very Bad In Every Way, But Most Especially On Pants. Were you strong? Resourceful? Brave? Think again.
It is the single most humbling experience possible to be confronted every day in every way with one’s inadequacies, but that, in a nutshell, has been my experience with parenthood.