The Ultimate Paradox That Is Motherhood

The Ultimate Paradox That Is Motherhood

This, is Motherhood.

Last night, as I had just stepped into my tub and was slowly slipping down into the water for my long-awaited “me time,” I heard him. The first telltale signs that my little banshee (also known as the 2-year-old) wasn’t asleep in his bed like I had incorrectly assumed.

First it was the pitter-pattering (which is just a nice way to say pounding) down the stairs, quickly followed by a shrill scream, then a massive bang as my magical toddler burst through the formerly locked bathroom door (OK, it may just be my circa 1960s door locks, but it feels like all he has to do is touch a door and the locks melt away, except, of course, for the instances when he locks me out of somewhere, and then this power disappears completely). He then proceeded to catapult himself into the tub with me, knocking over my cup of tea and sending water spilling everywhere.

This, is Motherhood.

I instantaneously held him up from the hot—some may call it scalding—water. I placed him over the edge and began the awkward process of prying wet clothing off of his wiggling body. He immediately stopped crying at the realization that his clothes were coming off, and he thought that he was going to get in the tub with me. I opened my mouth to start to scold him, complain, or simply exhale my frustration, but then I caught his eyes.

They turned downward, and his head began to hang, waiting for me to tell him “no.” I’d like to say that I relented out of some tender string being pulled at in my heart, but to be honest, in that moment I didn’t so much relent as give up and surrender because I didn’t want to hear the millionth tantrum of the day.

This, is Motherhood.

Once he was stripped down, he started jumping up and down in sheer excitement. I had to block him from getting in while I drained out the perfect scalding hot bath water and replaced it with toddler-appropriate warm bath water that chilled me to my core. I decided to get out and just bathe him alone, but as soon as I began to stand up, he wrapped his plump little arms around my neck. This time a few heartstrings did get tugged, so I sat my shivering body back down in the tub and plopped my chubby little baby on my lap.

This, is Motherhood.

As I sat there washing his blonde curls, I noticed how much his hair has grown. As I scrubbed his feet, I realized that they can no longer fit in the palm of my hand. As he sat on my lap, I remembered that the last time he took a bath with me I could still cradle him in my lap. Now he’s almost half my height.

As he leaned his sleepy head against me, I remembered the molars he’s getting (that no doubt led to our late-night bath session) and how the dentist told me the day before, “The next time you’ll have to go through this is in about four years.” In four short years, there won’t be baths with mommy to make him feel better again. How big will he be in four years? Will we have cut his hair in four years? What will he sound like? What will he look like? Who will he become?

This, is Motherhood.

Sometime during our bath, my 9-year-old, who has a tenacity for photography just like his mama, took a picture of us. When I looked at it, I didn’t see my messy, neglected bathroom; I saw a room where nighttime baths bring about peace and serenity, where I get to pause and spend time with my children. I didn’t see my messy, neglected, and soft body; I saw a happy soul with a body that has done amazing things, the greatest of these being a creator and bringing forth life in the form of three amazing new souls that I get the privilege of watching learn and grow, and this is the greatest part of motherhood.

Motherhood is dirty and chaotic. Motherhood is being firm and giving in, sometimes for all the right reasons and sometimes just out of pure exhaustion, Motherhood is constantly questioning these decisions and what you could have done differently and/or better. Motherhood is taking time for yourself while still giving all of yourself to your children. Motherhood is a paradox; you’re never quite sure if you’re getting it right, so you just breathe through the bad times and breathe in all the good.

This, is Motherhood.

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