I sat with my Mom at lunch today and thought OH GOOD LORD over and over and over again. It’s Mother’s Day and I wanted us to have a nice lunch with good conversation and then all these things – MomLife – kept happening. The wait time was going to be 45 minutes, someone didn’t want pasta, someone wasn’t sure of the kind of cheese used to make that restaurant’s version of mac and cheese, someone wasn’t finished with their story before someone else started their story and we had to fully assess the unfair interruption, and we even had fake nails came off which required a thorough inspection of the floor under our table. OH GOOD LORD can we please just all eat and let Grammy have 5 minutes of peace?!
I spent some time today wondering at what point in MomLife things calm down. And then I started to wonder if it doesn’t really ever calm down, and maybe it just changes. Maybe MomLife really boils down to moment after moment and day after day and year after year of thinking and saying OH GOOD LORD, just in a variety of different ways.
The first OH GOOD LORD moments happen during pregnancy. My favorite is when women hover around you to relive their awful birth experiences for you. Ones where they knew better than the doctors and nurses, the epidural didn’t work, they needed 119 stitches, and they ended up not eating or drinking anything for the 3 days they were in labor. What we should do is tell those women to shut it, but instead we just internally think OH GOOD LORD.
Women also say things like get ready for sleepless nights!, breastfeeding is best, let me share my recipe for puréed organic purple carrot and guava baby food, and I wasn’t sure the dishwasher was hot enough to really get things clean.
Fact: You will suffer from lack of sleep.
Fact: Millions of babies throughout history were not breastfed and somehow magically made it to adulthood as high-functioning wonderful people.
Fact: Purple carrots are the worst. (Or, millions of babies throughout the last century have somehow made it to adulthood on food prepared by Gerber.)
Fact: I have praised God for my dishwasher.
You know what’s useful info for a pregnant woman? Prepare yourself for leaving the hospital wearing the largest underwear of your life in the most comfy sweatpants you own. Your large underpants will hold a variety of attachments including, if you’re lucky, a to-go cool pack from your favorite nurse. Additionally, your largest-ever underwear will be held in place by an outer mesh underwear because your regular underwear will need reinforcement to hold everything in place where it should be. You will not allow yourself to sneeze or cough for days for fear that the inner and outer underwear and all the attachments will fail, and at the hint of any potential cough or tickling in your nose, you will inwardly cry OH GOOD LORD. The good news here is that at no point while discussing big underwear with other Moms have I ever encountered a woman who had a breach – so sneeze carefully new Moms.
Once you’re out of the infant phase, people love to see and share pictures of little ones smashing birthday cake. Moms are prepared for those birthday cake messes, so they’re adorable. However, every other day of the year messes are unexpected and not adorable. And even with the occasional ones you find funny, you will also find yourself groaning OH GOOD LORD as you stop to consider how to get gum out of carpet, if it’s OK to put tissues back in the box if they were all pulled out but not actually used, or if the amount of lotion that got in their mouth while they were playing with your lotion is the amount that requires you call poison control.
When your kids are off to elementary school and another child hurts your child’s feelings, there are two separate OH GOOD LORD moments. The first is a prayer for help in the moment of your awareness of the incident, when you are inwardly desperately thinking about the right thing to say to make them feel better. The second is minutes or hours later, possibly even when your child is asleep or has moved on, when you have a moment to think about it and you become enraged that the offending child could possibly say/do that to your child. In that moment, you think OH GOOD LORD because you suddenly realize that you are mad enough and irrational enough to lose your cool and yell at someone else’s child (and that child’s parents and their neighbors and all their relatives) and you don’t even care if you end up with your mug shot on the nightly news.
Then your elementary child asks crazy hard questions that no book can prepare you for. If you’re a well-seasoned parent, you might be able to conceal your reaction to learning that your child put a baby doll dress on your girl cat and secretly married her to your boy cat and has been praying they will have kittens. Or you could be like me and calmly explain that the cats are fixed and can’t have babies and so this is not one of those things to pray about…and that will result in your child questioning why you did this really mean thing and prevented them from having a family and OH GOOD LORD did I mess that up.
When your kids are off to middle school you learn that teachers send parents emails when children get good grades and that teachers call parents when children pull pranks that get out of hand. In the moment you realize a teacher is not calling to say your child is the recipient of a Nobel prize, in the pause where that teacher is searching for tactful words, you will think OHHHHHH GOOOOOOD LORRRRRD this cannot be good. And then later when your child gets home from school and you say Hey, your teacher called me today and that child says something like Mommy, I really thought it would be funny and tells you their thought process, you think OH GOOD LORD this child got this love for shenanigans from me and Is it possible this is my fault? This is maybe actually kind-of my fault.
Ella’s photobomb fail!
As my girls get older I find that the vast majority of the time they are out of my sight, when they’re at school or in a friend’s yard or at a sleepover, I think about them but I don’t worry about them. But the moments when worry or panic do hit me, my emotions are overwhelming and OH GOOD LORD how often they are irrational. The possibilities in my head can go from the slightly possible to the absolutely insane in about 5 seconds once I see a news alert of a school shooting, or learn of a child who’s been abused or abducted or addicted to drugs. I struggle sometimes to rein in my thoughts about those possibilities, something I suspect will never completely go away and a part of MomLife that is really, really hard.
Without a doubt, OH GOOD LORD exasperation is the most common of all the OH GOOD LORDs. These occur when you find your child’s dirty clothes resting literally right in front of the hamper, when dirty dishes are sitting on the counter literally right above the dish washer, and when you are asked to provide your child with a reason why they must bathe. Sometimes when questioned about an empty toilet paper roll, which coincidentally is just two feet from a bin of full rolls of TP, all children in my house will claim they have not used the bathroom that day. And OH GOOD LORD, really?
But the best OH GOOD LORD exasperation occurs when your children are embarrassed by you or shocked by you. They might, for instance, indicate that your camo pants are not appropriate even for hanging out in the yard. They might call you “extra” when you open their water bottles even though they have literally never opened a water bottle for themselves. They might ask you to jump on the trampoline with them and then say things like Mommy, that’s good for 45! Or they might offer to do your make-up so you can “really look good.”
And just when you think you can’t possibly handle another OH GOOD LORD exasperation or panic or fear moment, your child will say or do something that makes your heart melt. They might bring you breakfast for dinner or make you a card that says their favorite thing about you is your kindness. And you will tear up and think OH GOOD LORD I love these kiddos so much and I am so thankful and lucky to be their Mom.
This Mother’s Day was filled with OH GOOD LORD moments, and it was a really great day. I may have caught the girls fighting about slime containers but I also caught them praying for folks who need healing and planning with friends how to raise the most money for the local children’s hospital. Such is MomLife – a mixture of fun and peace and chaos and loud and quiet and annoyance and love all in one day.
Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom, who continually shows me how to be a Mom and who I am absolutely certain still has regular OH GOOD LORD moments because of me. Sorry I’m perpetually late to church and sneak in to the back row wearing my jeans and flip flops.